Moved By Mercy
By: Mackenzie M. Hebner
They said he broke my heart. I’ll never forget what they said when I surrendered the news to them, bringing my hidden world out of the shadows. “He’s an idiot,” they cried out in astonishment. “If I could somehow have you, I would never let you go,” they claimed from the bottom of their hearts. “How could someone break your heart?” they exclaimed in nothing but utter disbelief. But in truth, it wasn’t him that broke my heart, it was them. For they didn’t know what he knew. They still saw the me he had once come in contact with. The me who was so far propelled into the past that her memory was nothing but haze now. Their desperate attempts to heal my broken heart only dug the knife in further as they strived to heal a girl for which remedy was the farthest gift from what she truly deserved. They couldn’t imagine how he could be so foolish as to break me, but what they were not yet privy to, and perhaps never would be, is that it was in fact the other way around. Yes, he walked away, but in truth, I broke him.
Nothing stung more than the hateful words they spat about him. Watching them roll in text after text, hearing them spewed syllable after syllable. My jumping to his defenses only interpreted as me clinging to niceties he didn’t deserve, embodying my inner selflessness that I never could seem to part with. “You’re too nice,” they would warn. “It’s okay to be mad at him,” they encouraged. “You didn’t deserve this,” they explained. They were right about one thing; I didn’t deserve this, how gentle he had been with me. How kind and caring he was as he found the courage to exit the door of our home. He was too good to me, and perhaps that is what burned the most in the acceptance of my state; I marked him with incisions and he stood still, offering me words of comfort as I did. He was too good for me, and perhaps he knew that then, but he never let it show. And they certainly never saw it. The truth of what had happened between us was not the words printed on the front pages of their minds. They “knew” me. They “knew” my heart. They “knew” how special I was. They couldn’t believe how “blind” he was. They didn’t understand how he could be so “stupid” as to walk away. But he wasn’t the one who was blinded. Perhaps that was one of the worst parts, that only he saw my dark side. That only he was subjected to my brutality. That they saw the angel while he willingly submitted to the devil. I suppose it’s true for the best of us though, is it not? Angel on one shoulder, devil on the other. For twenty-four years my angel had ruled my days, my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams. But somehow, all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, she was overthrown and a new master came into power. For twenty-four years they saw my angel, and for one, he saw my devil. “Don’t text him, Mary,” they begged me. Trying to “protect” me from further hurt. But I had to, and they would never understand that. After everything we had been through. After commitments and loyalties exchanged through vows. After giving me his everything. After walking away, he deserved to hear one final thing. He deserved at least this much. But truthfully, so much more than I would quite possibly ever be able to give him.
“I know you need to walk away, so this will be my final words to you in order to respect what you need, and I don’t expect or ask for a reply. I just never gave you the apology you deserve, and though a text message is not what you deserve either, it’s all I can do while respecting the space you truly need. So, I just wanted to say, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. For hurting you and for causing you pain. You did not deserve that under any circumstances, especially not circumstances that called for love not scars. You are worth more than how I let you feel. I am sorry. You deserve more and I am thankful you realized that even if it breaks my heart as I know, in truth, it was me who first broke yours. Go find happiness, go find what you deserve, go take the world by storm like I know you will. I hate that I am the painful notch on your heart, and I know an apology is not enough to fix what I have done, but it’s a start, and all I can think to do. So again, I am sorry, it had nothing to do with you, you deserve more and you are so valuable. I am sorry I couldn’t show you that, but I hope you find someone who can. All my best, Mary.”
They would never understand, no matter how intently I explained the truth of what happened. They would never see the devil I had the capability to embody despite the angel on display. But he had seen it, and he deserved an apology at the very least. I wished deep down that they would condemn me, for condemnation was just the beginning of what I deserved. But, perhaps the truest torture of my misconduct was the words that followed my confession of regret, the very words I encouraged him to refrain from pursuing.
“Thank you, Mary. It’s okay. I don’t hold anything against you. Yes, I need space, but please don’t beat yourself up about this. I know you were hurting. In my eyes you did nothing wrong. I’ll see you around, okay?”
It’s okay… I don’t hold anything against you… don’t beat yourself up… you did nothing wrong… I’ll see you around… okay?...
And just like that, their words, once driving the knife further into my already bleeding heart, it was as if such actions had nothing on the sting of his reply. For forgiveness was not what I was owed. Innocence is not what I had earned. The benefit of the doubt is not what I deserved. And yet, it was what he chose to give. He knew what they were saying about him. He knew they were furious. He knew they blamed him. He knew exactly what was being uttered on the other side, yet he chose to give me the opposite of what I deserved, just as I did him, yet I broke him, and he chose to mend me. For now I had been given a second chance, one with which I somehow had to atone for my sins against him. I had to make this up to him. Now I could not accept my devil’s overthrow. Now, as if an entirely new switch had been flipped by his words, by his choice, by his mercy... Now I could no longer surrender to the punishment for caving to evil intentions. Now, I was not only given the choice to, but I had to heal. If for nothing else, for him. If he could forgive me, then I had to change. Because the last thing he deserved now, after everything I had put him through, was to watch me implode from afar. His mercy dug the knife in further as he was willing to offer forgiveness to a girl for which remedy was the farthest gift from what she truly deserved, and yet it was exactly what she was offered. Remedy as a payment for brutality. Mercy as a payment for catastrophe. It wasn’t what I deserved, but it was what I received. It wasn’t what I deserved, but it was what I needed. I guess you could say I found myself entirely moved by mercy.