Stephen Mosher On Forgiveness
Do you know how many times I’ve had to ask for forgiveness? Because I don’t. I’m an alcoholic and a crisis magnet. In my youth I created the crises and in recent years other peoples’ crises get brought to me to handle for them (and don’t get me wrong, I still have my own crises with which to deal). I am continually asking my husband for forgiveness. I’m sorry I got drunk. I’m sorry I lost my temper. I’m sorry I can’t take you away on holiday. I’m sorry I’m depressed. I’m sorry I’m exhausted. I’m sorry we don’t spend enough time together. I’m sorry I’m always working. I’m sorry our friend’s crisis has become our problem. I’m sorry I broke your favorite wine glass. I’m sorry our friend’s drama has spilled into our lives. I’m sorry I fell asleep during our date night together. I’m sorry I invited our friend to stay with us and now we have to deal with his drug addiction. I’m sorry we don’t have a dishwasher. I’m sorry we have to babysit the person we are currently babysitting. I’m sorry you’re having trouble sleeping. I’m sorry I didn’t make it big as an artist. I’m sorry I got sick and you have to care for me. I’m sorry your parents died. I’m sorry I’m a middle aged man whose promise never paid off. I’m sorry I stopped believing in God. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to give you the life I promised you.
Actually I do know how many times I’ve had to ask for forgiveness.
Every day for over three decades I’ve apologized to my husband for something. And do you know what?
He always forgives me.
I have committed horrible crimes against my husband and he always forgives me. He always accepts my apology, holds me and tells me it will be ok tomorrow. Whatever I do wrong, whatever mistake I make he always forgives me. However many times I fall down, he helps me up and we move forward together. Daily, he teaches me by example how I should live, what I should do, who I should be. He is continually showing me his kindness and generosity of spirit and I hope that, one day, I might absorb some of it and be a better man. But I guess I can say I have absorbed some of it because I am quicker to forgive than I was when I was young.
I got a phone call from an old friend, crying and wanting to know why I’m mad at them. I wasn’t mad at them. I just stopped calling and texting and emailing. I did this because, for a while now, that friend hasn’t been making deposits in the friend bank. I would call or text or email and the friend either didn’t reply or replied with economic answers or emojis. I would find out, via social media, that the friend had come to New York and then gone back to their home state and never called me, once. All the signs were that this person wanted to distance themselves from me. It hurts to be ignored. It’s painful to be invisible. It’s sad when a friendship dies. I didn’t get mad, though. I felt hurt and sad and decided to give them their space. Over a year went by before the friend reached out to ask why I was mad at them. Instead of being angry, I opted for kindness and forgiveness; I replied with a message saying I’m not mad, I love you and am here for you, as always.
You see, I had a fight with Gary Eddelman in 1992. He died of AIDS and I miss him. I hurt AJ Triano in 2014 and he broke up with me. I angered David Schmittou in some year long past and he ended our friendship. If I had apologized to Gary I might have been with him when he died. If AJ had given me a chance to apologize I might be Godfather to his child today. If David had accepted my apology he might have been best man at (one of) my wedding(s).
Time is easily, so quickly lost.
Be the first to apologize.
Be the first to forgive.
My husband has taught me this. He taught me how easy it is to stand up, be a man or a woman and take it on the chin, say “I did it”, apologize and accept your punishment and absolution. He taught me how easy it is to let go the grudge and say “You’re forgiven” and move forward. My boss is one of my best friends and I made a mistake at work and had to do that: stand before him, apologize and promise I would not make the same mistake twice. He replied “everyone fucks up.” When I told my husband the story he said “Of course he did. That’s the way it works.” My husband has understood, much longer and much deeper than I, about forgiveness and about acceptance.
That’s the man I married.