We’ve touched a bit on forgiveness, something I was still working on (shit, still am) and something still very foreign to me at the time (given I still had this idea of “fair” and “just” in my mind).

I was starting to see that I was still holding onto anger in many ways, anger at the systems I’d been dealing with, anger at the military for the treatment I was receiving while dealing with the situation, anger at

myself for pretty much everything (here’s that circle of deeper understanding I mentioned) and anger at my ex for what had transpired (criminal trial had turned into a convoluted version of Jerry Springer) and the harm that had been done.

What I wasn’t getting at the time was that I had the power to release this anger (it displayed as anger but we all know anger comes from hurt) and step into a place of forgiveness. The first person I needed to forgive was myself though and this was the game changer. I was reminded time and time again that what happened to my daughter wasn’t my fault, that I couldn’t control the actions of others and was being pushed to see that I made decisions in my past based on what I knew and to better my family.

I however like to make myself suffer, so suffer I did until it came out in a session I was attending with my daughter that she didn’t blame me for what happened anymore, that she had forgiven me months ago because I had stepped up and supported her when it really mattered.

I’m sure I sat there with my mouth hanging open and drool running down my face as I attempted to process this. I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around how this incredible young woman had found the strength to forgive me for failing to keep her safe. That’s when I realized that if this girl could forgive me it must be time for me to forgive myself.

This was a process and a half, mostly because back in 2015 I had seen signs, my gut had been screaming at me that something was wrong only I chose to ignore my gut feeling and head back to training so I didn’t let the organization and my fellow soldiers down. My strong girl had reminded me that it was time to let go of punishing myself and finally allow myself to forgive.

Once I forgave myself it was far simpler to start forgiving the system and my ex. In forgiving the system I was reminded that these people see this shit so regularly that they have become desensitized, they have nothing left to give, minimal resources to pursue Justice and that they, like me are human who make mistakes and aren’t perfect. They, like the rest of us live in fear more often than not. Fear for the children they weren’t able to protect, fear that they might miss something that could change someone’s future and this general feeling of utter exhaustion when they have given their all only to see yet another verdict come down with a statement like “I just don’t know” ending the fiasco. Family lawyers who have watched women fighting to protect themselves and their children only to watch as the child gets ripped away from their mother because she refused to stop fighting to keep her kids safe and the Federal Judges who literally hold these little lives in their hands, some have seen men and women making up lies to get what they want, some have sat long enough to remember when father’s had no rights so base their judgements on only that… These Judges are also only human, they come with their own baggage, life experiences and ideas of what is “right”.

As a society we think they come to court without any preconceived notions but how far from the truth that is. The only difference is they make choices that affect entire families and sometimes live long enough to see the damage their choices made because it ends up back on their docket. We each have a role to play and lessons to learn. Once this was realized it made it easy to forgive these people who held my girls lives in their hands, they did the best they could with what they had to work with and I had a better understanding of all they deal with daily.

Not every decision they make us going to be the best decision they could of made but that’s not for me to judge because it’s not my journey.