When my ex-husband and I parted ways, I was angry. Our marriage had not been good for a lot of reasons. And though I was relieved the ordeal was finally over, I found myself unable to control the repressed anger that had accumulated during the twenty-five years we had been married.
My soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law knew how to push my buttons. We were good friends, and I loved her dearly, but every conversation during those early days of my separation from her son turned into an argument.
She would defend him and tell me he was a good man. She said it was all a misunderstanding. She said he did not want to leave. She said I should give him another chance.
I did not agree and let her know it. Her son had left me for another woman. It was not his first affair. It was just one more in a long string of affairs he had indulged in during the course of our marriage. This time he packed his bags, loaded his car with the stuff he wanted to take, and left. It was a planned, calculated move. He did it while I was at work. The only way I knew it was happening was our twenty-year-old son, who was home that day, phoning me to say, I think dad is leaving.
I was angry. It was a crappy thing to do, especially to our two kids, to leave without so much as a goodbye. Our daughter, who was in school at the time, was crushed when I told her later that he was gone. I was angry my ex could not man up and explain to the kids himself what he was doing and why. I felt they needed to hear from him that this had nothing to do with them. But, no. It was just another slap in the face—my ex behaving badly without caring how it would affect anyone else—and I was angry.
But I was mostly angry with myself. I am not a stupid woman. Yet, I had stood by and watched the affairs happen when I should have, instead, walked away years ago. I let him do whatever he wanted and only had myself to blame for staying with him as long as I did.
My soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law wanted me to forgive and forget. She said I was being unreasonable. She said boys will be boys. She said he told her himself that if I had loved him more, he would have never left in the first place. She said he loved me and the kids, and if I begged him, he would most certainly come home.This kind of stuff was insulting and sent me into a blind rage.
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and
expecting the other person to die.
One morning, after another unsettling argument, I phoned my bff the minute I was alone. My friend, a spiritual soul, was a calming influence. I told her I did not want to be angry and grow into a bitter, old crone who hated men simply because I had the misfortune of marrying a tomcat. I told her I would have to put hearts up all over my house to remind myself to keep my heart open. I had already tacked post-it notes with written affirmations up on my bedroom mirror, my refrigerator door, in my closet, bathroom, wherever I was sure to see them: you are still young . . . you are lucky to have a second chance . . . you deserve a good man . . . you can eat ice cream for dinner if you want. Adding a heart to the affirmations would be easy. Seeing them would remind me to not let anything anyone says bother me, to let it all go, put it in the past, and move on.
I am open to give and receive love.
I love and accept myself.
I forgive myself and others.
I am fully open to love.
My heart is full of love.
No sooner was I off the phone when, alone with my thoughts, the anger started up again, rising within me. I was vacuuming the bedroom hall, talking to myself, saying all the things I wished I had said to my soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law, all the things I wanted to say to her son and to anyone else who would listen, until I was shouting. It was like molten lava rising until it burst, a string of not-so-nice words pouring out of my mouth with pure venom and hate . . . loud and clear . . . for all the world to hear.
Almost immediately, I stopped.
Down the hall in the front guest bedroom I used as a home office, the printer started up.
My first thought was, omigod, my son is home . . . and he heard what I said. Then, I thought again, no, he’s not home. There’s no one here, but me. Yet, there it was—the printer was definitely starting up.
Confused, I walked to the bedroom. The computer was not on. The printer was not on. Yet the printer was clearly getting ready to print something. I watched the paper feed into the machine and out into the tray.
There on the blank sheet of paper, in the uppermost left hand corner margin, was a lone single heart.
Fast forward 25 years . . .
I have that sheet of paper framed in gold between two panes of glass so I can see the entire sheet edge-to-edge with its margins clearly visible. The heart sits 1/2 inch from the top and 1/4 inch from the left.
Back in the day, it was impossible to re-create. I tried.
Friends attempted to explain it away saying it was caused by a power surge. I had seen power surges create gobbledygook on a page—a string of incoherent letters and symbols when the computer was trying to read data from a program it did not support—but never have I seen it print only one character. Never out of the default margins. Never when the computer was off. And why, of all things, a single heart?
Today I could re-create it. I have Photoshop and other programs that allow me to change the margins, and there are keystrokes that will create a single ♥ or ♥♥♥♥ all over a page if I want them.
This heart—my miracle heart—appeared all by itself/on its own at a time when I needed it most.
The real miracle
From that day forward, I was no longer angry. Somehow my anger had evaporated into acceptance and was replaced with the kind of wonder that comes when you have witnessed a miracle firsthand. I honestly believe something greater than myself had been watching and, in the only way possible for it to make its presence known, was telling me to lose the anger, believe what I was telling myself, and keep my heart open.
When you keep your heart open, you see love in everything. You accept others for who they are and can forgive them for being human. You can forgive yourself, too, which for me was the hardest thing to do.