It is like the floodgates have opened and I am being immersed in a sea of insight and understanding. I have for so long agonized over the concept of forgiveness and feeling quite certain that I would never be able to grant that to Husband #2. I read a couple of books on the topic including "Forgive and Forget - Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve" by Lewis B. Smedes but just could not grasp the concepts involved. I reexamined this topic reading "Storms Can't Hurt the Sky - A Buddhist Path Through Divorce" by Gabriel Cohen and again could not see how it is possible to view a person's intentionally hurtful acts separately from who they are as a human being. I was unable to observe the two on their own and could only see them as connected. But having completed divorce mediation on Thursday I have since had a change of perspective. The fact that my husband lacked the courage or decency to say goodbye in person and then literally ran from the law office when the mediation was completed allows me to see him as a pretty damaged and tormented soul. My compassion for him has come out. And I can see that what he did stemmed from his inability to be able to successfully engage in relationships. It is a horible weakness but one that I would bet has its roots in very early childhood. I don't think Husband #2 has a clue what he is running from or even why - just that he has to run from the pain because he cannot face it. Gabriel Cohen talked a lot about the concept of seeing people (especially the ones who hurt us) as being just like us in that we are all just trying to escape pain and find happiness.
So finally I am understanding how it is possible to view a person's behavior as separate from who they really are - a fellow person trying to avoid pain and suffering. It is helpful for me to use metaphors when working out issues and in this case I view forgiveness as the butter you spread on a piece of bread. The more you can slather on the better! That additional butter will spread and spread and spread - to you, the person you are forgiving and ultimately others.