do we really need to forgive?

This morning I stumbled across “What’s the Point of Forgiveness” on BBC1 (catch it on iPlayer if you’re in the UK) which forms part of the Easter schedule and explores the history of it including from a religious perspective and what it takes to put into practice. What I watched was really interesting particularly when it covered the period after Apartheid in South Africa where measures were taken to help huge numbers of people work through forgiveness and a moving interview with the widow of the co-pilot of the first plane to hit the Twin Towers.

Of course it got me thinking about the many readers of this site who express the struggles they have with forgiveness or the gradual process of moving forward and beyond the anger, hurt, and pain of what’s happened.

I believe that true forgiveness isn’t really that ‘easy’ to do.

Anybody can say ‘sorry’ but not actually mean it as an expression of regret and sympathy with what you’ve experienced as a result of their actions, and equally saying the words ‘I forgive you’ doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve forgiven if mentally and in the actions that follow, you haven’t.

I also believe that as humans, we’re pretty assumptive people which when we seek to be happier and authentic, we learn that we have to temper this and receive and process feedback to adjust those assumptions where appropriate.

One of the biggest areas of assumptions surrounds being sorry and forgiveness – what many of us don’t realise is that when we allow someone to, for example, press The Reset Button on us, or to come back into our lives, or to start over again, they assume you’ve forgiven them and/or even that you’re sorry.

This is maybe one of the strongest reasons for why when we seek to return to a previously painful relationship, unless you have forgiven and resolved the issues, it’s best not to go back because to restart a relationship that’s been broken does require forgiveness. If you get back together with much of the unresolved hurt and pain taking centre stage with a view to work on forgiving them in the relationship, you’ll likely find yourself being caught short.

But the question still remains of what does forgiveness mean and what does it involve?

It’s not as clear cut and simple as some would like to believe. I speak from personal experience when I say that forgiveness takes ongoing effort and commitment that gradually dissipates as the anger, resentment, hurt, and any other negative emotions about the person and events lose their hold and impact on you. Because that it was what forgiveness ultimately boils down to – letting it go.

Often we have to work with ourselves because we may not have the other person around for closure or even if they are, they may not want to be accountable or ‘debrief’.

While I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, for most people it takes more than saying ‘I forgive you’ to actually experience genuine forgiveness. It’s a start but we have to think and act in line with that forgiveness.

When people talk about working hard to forgive or working through anger, where it can become confusing is when it feels like the act of forgiveness has to be an active, dominant process in your life – like you have to devote your energies to understanding every ounce of your anger and hurt. Not only are you consumed by reliving your hurt and working on forgiving, but it means that the past overtakes your life.

Almost six years ago, while lying down in my kinesiologists office, she told me that I was full of hurt and resentment that was debilitating me. Just touching on the subject had me wanting to scream and tell her to shut up and I desperately wanted to avoid digging into my pain. I cried hard that day (and in the weeks and months afterwards) but I must admit that acknowledging and feeling my pain, while hurtful, was freeing.

As someone who wasn’t used to feeling all of her feelings and giving validity to them, to feel the good, the bad, and indifferent was mind-blowing – a habit of avoiding feelings (emotional unavailability) makes it very difficult to work through anger.

I didn’t think ‘I forgive you’ but I did consciously acknowledge that while it was OK to be angry and hurt with my father, my mother, this ex and that ex and that my feelings were valid, me not doing what I need to do for myself could only be blamed on those things for so long. I was wary of devoting much more energy to them as I felt it would distract from greater, more constructive purposes.

There’s also that ever present question of So how long will it take for me to reach forgiveness? which is much like So how long will it take for me to get over them? As I didn’t feel I was in any danger of getting any major closure with my parents, putting my eggs in that basket could have me still on their backs today. I figured that if I found myself struggling to move forward that I’d see a therapist or do a load of reading and so far that hasn’t happened.

Instead in those six years I’ve become distracted in and by my own life, where I endeavour to treat me with love, care, trust, and respect. While moving forward, I’ve reserved some space in it for understanding myself and processing what’s happened. Maybe part of the reason why I didn’t go into therapy is because I wrote out my feelings during that period (unsent letters very useful) plus writing Baggage Reclaim has inadvertently been part of that forgiveness process, particularly of myself, and especially because I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my experiences.

You can still move forward one step at a time – you don’t have to wait for a forgiveness ‘feeling’ to puck you in the head.

In fact it’s easier to work through and let go of anger if you don’t have to contend with feeling like you’ve stagnated and derailed your current life and even your future by being consumed with living in the past.

Like getting over a breakup, forgiveness, or as close to it as you’re going to get, just kinda creeps up on you.

One day you realise that you’re not as angry anymore. You haven’t forgotten but it’s not dominating your life because you’re dominating your life by occupying it literally and figuratively and devoting more positive energies to yourself, your life, and others.

Where has my anger and hurt gone? It’s gradually dissipated as my own life has improved, which admittedly wouldn’t have changed in the way that it has if I’d continued to hold onto the security blanket of my pain.

Anger is needed as part of the natural process of working your way through painful experiences. But it’s the working through bit that’s important because if you don’t, it just becomes holding on to anger. I’ve found that clarity has increased over time. If I’d broken my back trying to work out every itty bit of my feelings back then, I don’t think I’d have the clarity right now.

Forgiveness requires a level of patience, just like grieving does. You try to speed it up, you just get increasingly pissed off and stuck.

What I have learned is that you don’t have to tell anyone that you ‘forgive’ them but what’s more important is to forgive yourself because often we’re secretly most angry with ourselves, even if that anger is misplaced. We’re angry for not being able to control something, for not having the last word, for making mistakes, for not treating ourselves as we should, and for not being able to change the past. Sometimes we’re angry for still being angry.

Often when we forgive ourselves and stop trying to control the uncontrollable, the anger lessens towards others although of course we don’t forget. Personally, if I can forgive myself and work hard at getting on with my own life, that’s all I’m worried about because the truth is, most of the people we burn energy up trying to work out forgiveness for aren’t busting down our doors for it. Even if they are, most of the time, they just want you to be done with it so they can feel less discomfort. Ultimately they can wait – but you can’t.

Your thoughts?

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

96 Responses to Do we really need to forgive?

  1. leisha says:

    Excellent!

  2. yoghurt says:

    Killer post.

    I was brought up with a churchy background and I have a whole lot of time for the concepts of forgiveness and grace, they are truly amazing. Unfortunately I’ve managed to translate them into a really fetching shade of doormattery in my own life and have been using them as an excuse, over the last couple of years, to wipe the slate clean and extend a really unhealthy situation. Basically because I wanted to, not because it was any good for me, for him or for our child.

    “I forgive you” became a code for “Come back! Give me some of that attention that I miss so much! I promise that I’m not going to give you a hard time for walking all over me!” It didn’t work and worse, it subsequently turned out that I HADN’T forgiven him and that I was still very angry and very hurt (which of course erupted later on), so it was a fib.

    Because he’s the father of my child, I do feel very strongly that it’s important for me to forgive him – I don’t want my son to grow up in a cloud of bitterness and resentment – but doing has to involve letting go of the hope that it’ll ever work out. Otherwise I can’t do it.

    I’ve realised that I have to acknowledge that I also need forgiveness. I ended up writing an unsent letter (which will remain unsent by the way – I’m nice but I ain’t dumb) in which I apologised for being dishonest about the way that I felt, for not respecting or believing him when he said that he didn’t want a relationship, for trying to manipulate the situation so that we would end up in a relationship, for using the things that he’d told me when I’d offered him non-judgemental support to later try to coerce him into caring about me, for notching up all my martyr-points and then clanging him with a guilt-trip for the way that I’d let him treat me. And, most of all, for not introducing the distance that we needed to be able to work out a healthy co-parenting relationship even though I KNEW (little though I wanted to acknowledge it) that that was what was needed.

    Of course, none of that makes his behaviour any more okay or acceptable, but at least now I’m clear about what was unokay and unacceptable about it. And I can see where he was right and sensible (we…

    • yoghurt says:

      fiddlesticks, too long and I can’t remember what the rest of it said.

      Something along the lines of “It’s a whole lot easier to forgive someone when you acknowledge that they didn’t just charge into your life out of the blue and wreck it without some co-operation from you”.

      • NML says:

        Both of your comments Yoghurt will brilliantly insightful. I think you highlight what the specific issue is that too many people experience with trying to 1) forgive 2) be compassionate 3) sympathetic 4) empathetic and 5 ‘nice’

        Many of us don’t really understand what these words mean and end up rolling ourselves out like a doormat printed with ‘welcome’ and ‘wipe your feet and even your arse on me’

        We can be and do all of these things without devaluing, hurting, or even abusing ourselves in the process and it would be better of us to take a bit more time and not use these things to avoid actually doing the work of processing and accepting what happened. As another commenter also homed in on, ‘forgiveness’ when it’s something you’re paying lip service to is denial. True forgiveness doesn’t require you to deny a damn thing.

  3. Kristen Lee says:

    Hello!

    Love the blog! Love this post!

    I lo0k at it like this…

    Jesus told us we are supposed to “forgive” but didn’t say we have to invite the mofo over for dinner afterwards….

    The forgiveness is for you and your journey towards healing. You don’t have to tie forgiveness to continuing or reengaging with someone who is not healthy for you.
    :)

    • NML says:

      Your comment made me snort with laughter and wake up the boyf! Hilarious and very wise words!

      • Elle says:

        Haha! That’s great, KL! (same with yoghurt’s ‘fetching shade of doormattery’)

        Great, timely post, NML. I went through the same strong urges to forgive straight away, and it was confusing to know whether this was a virtuous, almost Buddhist thing – there was this sense that I was OK with it – but, actually, it turned out, I did need to go through the full process of feeling and understanding what happened. It needed to be like that, because it was an experience that genuinely shocked (read: traumatised) me – mostly because of the AC’s behaviour, but also because of the unique predicament I was in at the time. Also, part of the urge to forgive was tied up with wanting to deny, to not really get to know what rejection is. I recognised that, and remember thinking that rejection and I needed to become pals.

        But as your post suggests, moving on could not be a situation where I analysed the crap out of everything – that almost sent me to the drink! It had to be a wave-like situation of feeling sadness, and then detaching from it, feeling compassion for him, then detaching, feeling sadness, and then detaching (and so on) until the situation I am in now where I can see it as just part of history, a part of life generally, not the significant thing to focus on, really. And, as you say, it’s become much more about the essential problem: forgiving myself, and using the experience as an edge to push off against.

  4. colororange says:

    A lot of my anger comes from being shut out or told to calm down by others. I have been angry at myself for being so nice. People comment on how sweet and quiet they think I am when inside I’m usually seething. I think this comes from being a woman too. There is a message that it is not OK for a woman to be angry much less display that anger. I think it has much more to do with someone else’s discomfort at my expressing anger.

    Right now I’ve been so angry at my coworker for her overuse of the cell phone. It is annoying to hear that thing go off so many times during the day when I’m trying to concentrate on my work. I voiced my annoyance to her, she thought it was funny and later that day she antagonized me by asking if something else she was doing was bothering me too. I didn’t say a thing. I thought “this is bullshit and I have to work with this b*tch everyday.” It is a stark reminder of how I’ve felt most my life: my feelings don’t mean a damn thing. And the need for a quiet workspace seems to be too much to ask for. I dread going to work now and I’m in this feeling stuck, victim role while she has stopped using it AS MUCH but still. I feel like there is this huge sign on my forehead that reads DOORMAT. I can’t exactly get away from her and most everyone else there is texting away on their idiotic cell phones. It adds to my depression and anxiety and feeling like I have no control over my life or environment. Thing is I don’t want to be nice to her. How would I ever find forgiveness for her when she does not respect me? Ultimately I need to learn to forgive myself for not knowing that I have the right to the life I want and letting others define me.

    • NML says:

      Colororange between your coworker and you burying yourself in long held feelings, you’re creating a stuck situation for yourself. Your coworker is exploiting your lack of confidence and you have 2 choices:

      1) Go back to her and say ‘I meant it when I said that I find the constant noise from your cellphone disruptive. Please put your phone on silent, move into another room and take the call there or something but if you can’t find your way to that, let’s sit down with our/my manager and find a way.

      2) The next time and each every time her phone goes off and she’s being disruptive, ask her to lower the noise.

      3) Send an email that is cc’d to your manager saying ‘Following on from our conversation on x date and the subsequent remark you made on Y date, I’d like to ask you again to keep the noise and disruptions from your cell phone to a minimum.

      Colororange this is a workplace. It isn’t good for you or for your company for you to take on the victim role. Your coworker is disrespectful, not just of you but of any other coworkers around. If you turn this into something from your past, you lose an opportunity to *help yourself* which is a lot better than stewing.

      • grace says:

        color
        Agree with Nat, take her to one side and talk. On the other hand, if everyone is doing it, that could just be the acceptable environment in your office and you may have to move jobs or ignore it. Are you allowed to wear headphones – you could ask your manager? If they ask why, mention the noise in a calm manner.
        Or ignore the noise. I will say, though, that my capacity to ignore is phenomenal. It’s not my intention, I’m just concentrating but people find it aloof and intimidating. And I like that. Better than being a doormat!
        Did you see that series “The Model Agency” where all the bookers sit round a huge table, all on the phone, squabbling, dramatising and being really noisy? them could. not. stand. it and was getting very upset. Eventually, he realised that’s how it is and he learned to join in a little, but mostly to just ignore them and not take it personally.
        I’m not saying you should go with this option but – you do have options.

        • colororange says:

          OK, when I go in on Monday and if I hear the thing going off again I’m going to say “I really need you to put that on silent because it is disrupting my concentrating on my work.” Period. I’ll see how that goes because this shit’s got to stop. I feel like I’ve been on the ground letting others wipe their feet on my back far too long.

          • colororange says:

            OK, I’ve had my fill.

            I need a better plan because I keep cowering, if only internally but probably you can see it outwardly, around this woman. She keeps making these little “teasing” remarks but they feel like she really means what she says. Disguising it as sarcasm. How do I deal with her where I keep my power and not chicken out? My muscle for standing up for myself or calling someone out needs some exercise. It is difficult if someone comes back with “well you did…….” I was supposed to go somewhere with her but I realllly do not want to and I’m working on a plan out of that. It’s like each thing I do for her feels like just another way of me saying, “hey it’s ok you treat me like dog doo”. I don’t like her. I don’t like the way I feel around her and I want to figure out a way to stop INVITING this disrespectful behavior from people. I really feel like I’m in this tight space just turning in circles. HELP. I want to learn a better way and have some freaking boundaries!

  5. msblue says:

    what i find helpful is to do nightly releases: forgive something/someone before I sleep – it could be an ex, a family member, myself, someone who cut me off traffic, an irritating co-worker. then I think of someone/something to be grateful for: seeing a cardinal that morning, being healthy, having a wonderful friend, etc. I find that this ritual releases a lot of negativity. sometimes when i do the forgiveness, i’ll put my hand where i feel my emotions locked – sometimes it is my gut, othertimes my chest – b/c i feel that the mind-body connection is important and the heat from your hand is very healing. Also when i get up in the morning, i continue the process if I need too. Just before sleep and just when you wake up, your mind is very susceptible to suggesions . Been doing it for a year now and i actually look forward to it!

  6. Ashley says:

    i wholeheartedly agree with the portion about forgiving myself. that has been the hardest part of my journey…. in all aspects of my life. the one thing the people closest to me always say is that i am too hard on myself. i know it. when i look back over every single relationship, friendship, family relationship… all of them… ever… i feel sad about my behavior. sometimes it is because i wasn’t as nice as i would like to have been. sometimes it was because i was absurdly nice to some one who didn’t deserve it. sometimes it is because i see how i looked in retrospect and wish i could change the way i was then.
    truth be told, i am learning to forgive myself by remembering that hating myself for my past is not productive for my future. i keeps me in a rut. i can’t change it. it is what it is. all i can do is learn and go forward from there. i am learning to be more kind to myself and in that i am finding forgiveness.

    • Melinda says:

      Ashley, I know just what you are saying. People are always telling me I’m too hard on myself. I leave every social gathering and begin to “dissect” my behavior before I get to my car. And I never come out looking good! I talked too much, I said the wrong thing, I let someone bogart my time while they talked on about themselves and never bothered to ask about me, etc., etc., etc. And then I get resentful, and-yes-sad. I do believe forgiveness begins with forgiving oneself. So much easier said than done, but I am taking baby steps now. Sounds like you are too.

  7. TeaTime says:

    “What I have learned is that you don’t have to tell anyone that you ‘forgive’ them but what’s more important is to forgive yourself because often we’re secretly most angry with ourselves, even if that anger is misplaced. We’re angry for not being able to control something, for not having the last word, for making mistakes, for not treating ourselves as we should, and for not being able to change the past. Sometimes we’re angry for still being angry.”

    Yes, spot on! Nowadays, if I am still angry at anyone about this whole fiasco it’s me. I’m still working on forgiving myself for what happened, and the days I feel angry for still being angry don’t help.

    Whenever I have thoughts about the past that make me wince, I stop and say “It’s okay. I forgive myself. I didn’t know any better” and I immediately feel better. Turning the harsh, inner critic into a supportive, forgiving friend is a difficult task but I know it’s the only way I’m going to move past this.

  8. Christina says:

    What an insightful post!

    I like what you said about writing as a form of/instead of therapy. It’s an incredibly useful tool in articulating our feelings and I think the flow of it often leads you to places you’d rather not- but need to- go.

    Forgiving ourselves is ultimately the most important thing we can do. It somehow seems easier and more justifiable to hold onto bad feelings against ourselves than against anyone else. And yet, when it comes to exploring the root feelings of my bad feelings about the past, it always comes back to the fact that I’m angry with myself for letting certain things happen.

    Kudos to you for taking so much from your experiences.

  9. Jennifer says:

    NML, you are so right that the person we really have to forgive is ourselves. I find that much, much more than I am angry at any guy who treated me poorly, I am angry at myself for allowing it. I don’t have to live with any of the guys anymore, but I do have to live with myself, so I need to make peace with myself. For me, that means recognizing that I am only human, that I always did the best I could with what I knew at the time, and that I’ve grown and won’t make the same mistakes again.

    Like many chronic fallback girls (I suspect), I have always been very hard on myself because my self-esteem is fragile. I think that if we can learn to think of ourselves more kindly and to forgive ourselves our mistakes, we will be well on the road to recovery. It’s not easy and I have setbacks but I am working on it every day.

  10. runnergirl says:

    “Forgiveness requires a level of patience, just like grieving does. You try to speed it up, you just get increasingly pissed off and stuck. What I have learned is that you don’t have to tell anyone that you ‘forgive’ them but what’s more important is to forgive yourself because often we’re secretly most angry with ourselves, even if that anger is misplaced.”

    I am again in awe of how you can read my mind. Patience is not my strong suit. I’m trying to get out of stuck and getting pissed off because I can’t. You are so right. It is me I’m struggling with. I’m most angry with myself and misdirecting my anger at him. I’m so angry at myself. And I’m angry for still being angry. I knew I deserved better and I know I deserve better. It so hurts to know I placed myself in the position of being the OW. CRAP. I’ll be working on forgiving myself. Thank you.

  11. Freyjah says:

    Great post. Recently, someone pointed out to me that forgiveness is not necessarily the same as reconciliation. That simple point freed up a lot of energy for me, and helped me let go of quite a few of the resentments I’d been carrying around.

  12. Tulipa says:

    I too confused forgiving someone as please carry on as you were I’m still a doormat. I now know forgiving someone is for your own benefit and journey and doesn’t mean that you forget what they did so they can do it again, it is also true if you haven’t truly forgivien the person the issues will keep returning to bite you.

    I also know when you don’t forgive someone that it can eat at you for years if you let it and it takes up so much energy. It took me a long time to forgive my dad who rejected me when I was a child and who I didn’t see again for 20 years. Looking back on my childhood I can see how much energy I wasted on holding to my unforgiveness and resentment instead of accepting that I had no control over my dad’s actions and he went about living the life he wanted. ( I know it is easier to reason this out as an adult, but I can’t help remembering all that wasted energy and the huge burden it seemed to be)
    To forgive someone truly is liberating it allows you to live your life and its even better now I’ve learned its not tied to being a doormat and allowing someone to repeat the same behaviour. You can forgive someone and they don’t even have to know about it you just know yourself you have moved on.
    This is a great article and it all ties in nicely in becoming a healthy person.

  13. trinity says:

    I sent an I forgive you note about 6 months ago to my x, short and to the point and ask him not to reply. Of course he did reply and was expecting friendship, i just ignored him. In all honesty im actually still in the process of forgiveness and i dont really let it rule my life. I mostly sent the note to get my x off my back and it worked but not completely or 100%. It just gave me more space and stopped him annoying me as much at work which gives me more space to move on and let go.
    I agree with Nat, forgiveness is a process and also to forgive does not mean you have to be friends, interact or even like the person. I still do not want a thing to do with my x and do not like or respect him as a person however i have let go of most of the anger. It is the anger that is mostly left. No real heartbreak but at times a real pouding anger, thankfully i feel it less and less but its still definetly there which annoys me :(
    The one thing i find i can struggle with is being placed in a situation where i have to go against my nature. Forced to be closed off, angry, ignore, push away, go against any real love i had left or any kindness i felt towards him. I know it has to be done in order to push through but it annoys me to have to be so cold towards someone i felt nothing but warmth for. My nature is open, loving, positive, caring, honest and very warm and i hate having to force myself to be the opposite of that because someone found it to hard to treat me with respect. At the end of the day though i have to remind myself its not my fault i have to be this way. He had a choice and he chose to push the good stuff away. His loss.

    • Melinda says:

      @trinity:
      “The one thing i find i can struggle with is being placed in a situation where i have to go against my nature. Forced to be closed off, angry, ignore, push away, go against any real love i had left or any kindness i felt towards him. I know it has to be done in order to push through but it annoys me to have to be so cold towards someone i felt nothing but warmth for. My nature is open, loving, positive, caring, honest and very warm and i hate having to force myself to be the opposite of that because someone found it to hard to treat me with respect.”

      Boy, can I relate to this! I feel hypocritical for intentionally behaving in a way that is contrary to my nature and (to be honest) not even in keeping with feelings I still have for Mr. Unavailable. But treating someone disrespectfully takes it to a new level. We have to respect ourselves and protect ourselves, especially if we are vulnerable. Forgiving and developing self-confidence are both essential elements to moving on to better things.

  14. MovingOn says:

    This was a slap beside the head for me! I have been in a LDR for 5 years (off and on). Although he was with another woman early on in getting to know him, I was hurt, crushed, and walked away. He contacted me later on and told me how he would never hurt me again. I believed him (against my better judgement), and I went back to him. Only to find out down the line, he was in a 7 month relationship (with a friend) I knew NOTHING about. I once again, walked away. I thought I couldn’t trust him, let alone myself. I thought I had worked through the first hurt, to trust him AGAIN…only to find out he broke my trust yet again. Yes, once again, I went back to him, only to find out I was being lied to yet again (what does it take to make one wake up?).

    I am now NC for almost 2 weeks. I don’t see the need to be in that so called relationship any longer. I have been reading here, hours a day, to keep my strength up. I don’t want to be someone mans option…I want to be more than that. I am worth more than that! I know I have forgiven, more than I should have. I do forgive him. I do love him..I just don’t like him very much. I want to have a man love me the same as I love him. I know its (he’s) out there. I will just wait until the day comes that I am ready for him, and he appears (however long that takes)..until then, I am working on me.

    • Jennifer says:

      MovingOn, I just want to offer you my support. You are doing the right thing and will get through this. And you don’t love this man, as you say you do. I’m sure you will come to realize that what you’ve been feeling wasn’t love but rather a need to be validated by him choosing you, which was never going to happen. Many of us on this site have been in your shoes (in terms of wanting a guy to choose us) and have come to recognize that guys like this won’t choose ANYONE. This is not about you but about him and his weird issues, so let him live with his issues and you move on.

      Best of luck in your journey toward healing.

  15. Tan says:

    Kristen,

    Your comment was hilarious and so true…
    There is a lot of food for thought in this post Natalie, as there is in all of them. I think I need to spend a bit of time working on my unsent letters, but fundamentally, as you say, forgiveness is about forgiving yourself for having no boundaries, putting up with whatever and focusing on moving on with your own life.
    Your posts are a lifeline at the moment, three months into NC and going strong, most of the time.

  16. G says:

    This is something that I struggled with. After having a happy marriage of almost 5 years my husband left me for a colleague of his. Over the next 2 years he came and left a further 2 times. After the initial devastation I did begin to slowly try to move on. However, I had it fixed in my head that I could not fully move on until I forgave him. This caused me all kinds of angst. I felt that I was forever going to be alone because I couldn’t move on because of this whole forgiveness thing. One day I suddenly realised this: What he did was unforgivable. To me anyway. I didn’t forgive him. And I never would. I just didn’t hurt about it anymore. It was done and it was gone and so was he. The relationship had died over 2 years before when he made the decision he did and the attempts at reconciliation were trying to give something dead the kiss of life. I did not forgive him and I would not do so. But now I had acknowledged it – I could move on. And I have – now happily in a new relationship.

    • done as dinner says:

      G – I know exactly what you mean about not forgiving but also no longer caring any more. I’ve found myself in a similar situation. I don’t, won’t and probably never will (in all likelihood if I’m honest) forgive the ex. However, that doesn’t mean that I am holding on to it, in denial, etc. I’ve accepted what happened, my role in it and the stupid things we said and did. Initially I spent the better part of a year mentally rewinding events looking for alternative explanations, over-analyzing and ruminating, and now I just prefer to use that energy in more positive ways. It’s spring, I feel like I’ve come back to life, I’ve lost interest in what is past.

      My life has changed quite dramatically in the past few years – for the better. I’ve let go of friendships that were hurtful and one-sided. I’ve accepted that those people are only capable of giving, being so much, and aren’t compatible with me. However, I no longer spend a lot of time thinking about what could have been, or why weren’t things better etc. I do think there is a difference between indifference and forgiveness. I just don’t care anymore, not even enough to forgive.

      • Jennifer says:

        YES! I think this is why the ultimate point is to forgive yourself. When you are able to just say “This guy is a total jerk but it doesn’t hurt me and I don’t care” you have forgiven yourself for allowing him into your life in the first place. No need to forgive him, he’s just some spaz with a zillion issues whom you’re never going to speak to again.

  17. ana says:

    “In fact it’s easier to work through and let go of anger if you don’t have to contend with feeling like you’ve stagnated and derailed your current life and even your future by being consumed with living in the past.”

    Amen to that! :) Nat always knows how to deliver the message!!
    Thank you!

  18. Leigh says:

    Perfect post!

    I was angry for a long time. Angry at my ex husband and the exMM. I woke up one day knowing that I had to do something because it was all so consuming. I thought to myself “screw them” look at me, see what part I had to play in all of this.

    The toughest thing was being honest to myself. I cried buckets in coming to some realisations. I started to forgive myself slowly and it wasn’t a conscience thing. It was an attitude shift towards myself. I started to get HAPPY by doing things that made me feel happy. I started to care for myself more.

    I then started to address forgiveness of the two men that made a huge impact in my life. Being a catholic girl I thought that part would be easy. So I decided not to analyse it and just let it be. I forgive them both now and have done for a while. I see it that for all the bad they inflicted they also gave some good within their capacity, it was me that let all my boundaries get well and truly busted.

    I still have little slips now and then, and I start to get negative again. Then I remember how great happiness feels when I’m looking after me and letting the things that no longer matter go.

    Forgiveness is freeing!

  19. grace says:

    I’m still going through this dilemma with my parents, especially my mother who was emotionally abusive and would probably still be physically abusive if she was able. There’s no obligation to forgive people, though if it’s something petty I’d wonder what I was REALLY angry about. It takes time – can be a lot of time – and may require professional help, not for the forgiveness part, but to actually acknowledge what that person has done rather than sweeping under the carpet. Importantly, it DOES NOT mean that you have to continue interacting with the person. Only someone who has NO CLUE would suggest that you continue having anything to do with someone who has harmed you.
    I’m moved on enormously in the past year. And a huge part of that is knowing that these people have no power over me anymore. And I feel that I’m better than them (not in a braggy way!) so why would I let them drag me down?

  20. I always thought that forgiveness was really for the person doing the forgiving to help them to close the door on something in their life and move on. Sometimes, its hard to forgive someone especially when they have busted your boundaries or stepped over lines you hold dear, my experience there.

    I don’t claim to be a saint and so whilst I struggle to forgive I also think “Reject evil in all its forms!!” Since my ex seemed to have horns well it seems only right if I can’t forgive him to reject his tomfoolery and get a life!!

    I met up again with this idiot after a period of no contact and he was still the same old looser, still a player, still fooling about on his fiancees time. Forgiveness is about US getting on with our own lives NOT accepting some fools idiocy and by so doing condoning the bullshit!

    What made me think in church was the comment “we shouldn’t judge others!”, however you have to judge in order to have a line and to have boundaries…maybe I can put it like this..”I don’t judge my ex to be wrong, just his ways just don’t work for me!” Back to the pit demon ha ha ha ! or some thing like!! Actually he’s not a demon just an ordinary man behaving like a prat! Which he is welcome to do but NOT on my time!

    • leisha says:

      I call this assessment…was with a man who made me feel bad because I was “judging” him…and a few other nasty interpretations of me…real big on being a “Christian” in the most hypocritical ways…it amazes me when I look back. Why did I feel the need to prove him wrong by constantly “turning the other cheek”? No more. Damn. He called witch, devil, vampire…cursed me…crazy shite and I always tried to show him I was of the light…too bad I didn’t run early on instead of trying to disprove nonsense. I still don’t understand why I didn’t exit for good a lot earlier…but I did finally. Amazing what we’ll go through isn’t it?

      • leisha says:

        I think I was trying to open the man’s eyes…I now know that religious beliefs and values of those religions can totally warp any chance of relationships when both aren’t on the same page. I think of myself as open-minded and a teacher of sorts…and so capable of putting up with shite in the name of enlightenment…well that was my ego talking…wasn’t my business to entangle in anyone’s beliefs. Many things were skewed in the association I had with that particular male. I love him but I am not right for him and he isn’t right for me. I now have the work of self forgiveness to complete and am armed with so much more knowledge and info than before. The journey continues…

  21. Lynda from L says:

    My anger towards what I felt to be unfair and destructive early experiences with my mother has raised its head many times in my life. I imagined that I had worked it through in my thirties because I actually came to a better understanding of her own upbringing. I did forgive her and have managed to maintain a relationship with her, even if sometimes I struggle with her values and choices.
    What I failed to recognise was how I was still trying to ‘fix’her through relationships, in particular a long term relationship with a charming alcoholic arsehole. I have been clear of the relationship for three years now but only recently have I fully realised how I was repeating my early experiences with my mum(basically through my childhood- six to sixteen- she was a functional alcoholic…and all that comes with that, did!)
    I adopted the role of carer extremis to him, fully fledged Florence Nightingale in every way and despite the books on my shelf and my career and any previous successful relationships I had had…I was basically back in my childhood again and this time the alcoholic was going to get sober. He didn’t…I believe he is in recovery now but it had nothing to do with me(or indeed the girl who came after me). My ego astounds me! I put my job, house, relationship with my friends, son at severe risk so that I could once and for all prove that I could control an addict. In fact I was also addicted to doing so…. My forgiveness process at the moment is ongoing. I feel that I have forgiven my mum but….will not put myself in her way if she is acting up or being a force of negativity.
    I have forgiven the AC and think of him very little these days.I actually try to wish him well in his recovery but always always from a distance. I will never willingly speak with him again.
    With regard to myself, I have not forgiven myself yet. My anger whether turned on myself or on external situations is still something I contend with. I am angry that I couldn’t see the mistakes I was making. I feel guilty, guilty, guilty for my foolishness. I take on fully Natalie’s comment that I couldn’t control the uncontrollable.
    Today, after reading the article I ‘m thinking ‘Who the hell can?’which is a big step…

  22. ICanDoBetter says:

    I read somewhere that the original definition of “nice” meant foolish.
    Makes me think twice about being so nice.

  23. gala says:

    As I wrote in one of my comments to one of the posts, I was involved in a shady sort of dating thing, not really relationship and it ended badly. It hurt me badly and I have struggled very much to let it all go. This site has helped me a great deal in this process. As I was going through it all, I filled my life with things I like and worked hard to take my mind off obsessing and set myself goals to achieve.
    Now, I feel like I had finally forgiven him (I still think that what he did was fundamentally wrong, but I don’t feel angry& hurt any more). I don’t obsess and I don’t think of him, daydream of us or ask myself the questions without answers (the coulda, shoulda,woulda). In one way it’s liberating and it feels peaceful to finally have closure. On the other hand, I feel empty quite often. It’s a bit frightening. Is this normal, Natalie? Could you please give me a word of advice on this from your experience?

    • Natasha says:

      Gala, I feel the same way. I’ve been feeling hurt a lot less often and, other than that, I feel empty a lot of the time too! I don’t have anything as good as Natalie’s advice to contribute, but I wanted you to know that it’s not just you. I find it to be a weird feeling as well. There was a time when I would have been beyond grateful for this, but I find it a little frightening too. Maybe it’s because we got used to the high intensity misery of getting over a crappy relationship? I don’t have any answers, but I know what it’s like to think “What am I feeling? Ummmm, er….nothing really?”

      • Oldenoughtoknowbetter says:

        Natasha and Gala, I have been thinking about this as well. As I unravel my feelings and use informed self talk to work my way through my feelings instead of just reacting (i.e. my new thoughts are: this guy is really not that important to me, I am just reacting to the rejection I had all my life from my father. It has nothing to do with guy X or my worth, I am playing a familar role, etc.). It is sort of like finally adressing the elephant in the room, and that elephant is my past! This is giving me a significant amount of internal peace as I believe my new internal voice more and more, but I am also not “feeling” much. I have to say, I think this might be called contentment! Not everyone has these intense, wild emotions going on inside all the time. I think we are programmed by the drama, and the existence of it is not “nothing”, it is peace and contentment and what we should be feeling most of the time!
        When I first got divorced I spent about 8 months just being me. It was an extremely content and drama free time in my life and I loved it. Then I started dating, and it has been a roller coaster ever since. So now I have to bring that contentment back into my life by releasing the male drama, unless I want to be a nun (no!!). Just a thought, maybe “nothing” is really “something” and we just have to get used to this new calm….

      • I'mFree says:

        Ditto – on one hand I like the lack of drama (it wasn’t even ‘exciting’ drama I had with my exAC more the neurotic worryings and heart lurchings from being built up and let down so often) – on the other hand the calmness does feel odd to me. Sometimes it’s nice, othertimes I just feel empty and frightened about my life and my future. I think I maybe if your time is spent moulded by someone else’s needs and desires you lose yourself – well that is what I did. I have been pondering this for a while now – why i got sooo involved with men along the way (they have always been my main focus rather than as an addition to my already good life). I think I didnt know myself, felt ill equiped + lacked confidence to take charge of my life (prob due to my upbringing where my thoughts and feelings didn’t count, so I smothered them and stuck egg shells on the bottom of my feet – god forbid I upset anyone or spoke my mind!). I think for years I was just an empty vessle wandering around waiting for a man. It felt easier to look to someone else to tell me(inadvertently) how to life my life and what to value, than to figure it out for myself. It’s been a vicious circle, coz the more time I spent with AC, the more I lost the little I had. Now I’m having to, or rather I chose to figure out what I want, what I’m like, what my values are. It feels lonely at times. I’m left with the calmness and lack of drama and the spotlight is,for once on me and I find that painful and scary.

      • Natasha says:

        Thank you so much for your insight ladies – I couldn’t agree more. This is the first time in 5 years I haven’t either been yo-yo-ing with the same AC or in limbo, on alert for his return (highly embarassing, but true)! This time, when I told him to get to steppin’ (unlike the previous three times I did…again, highly embarassing, but true), I actually knew for sure I was done. So this is what a lack of limbo is and this is why it feels weird! Thank you again :)

  24. Sam says:

    I’m a big fan of the ‘feelings diary’ It has helped me tremendously and given me lots of insight into my patterns of anger, joy, frustration and peace – and really helped me on a path to forgiveness. I’ve also found after a month or so of keeping tabs on my feelings that 9 times out of 10 the anger stems from not the ex, or the annoying co-worker or the pestering mother or father but from unresolved things inside of me that were triggered by some outside event.
    It sounds painfully cheesy and almost narcissistic to devote 10-15min of writing each night to your own feelings (though it’s totally not) but it’s helped me so much I think it’s the been the best thing for me.

  25. MaryC says:

    I swore I would never forgive him for cheating and leaving me. I relished in my hatred and was not going to give him the satisfaction of being forgiven even though he asked me to. Yes he really did. Well that went on for 18months as I was being the fallback girl, a position that made me physically, emotionally and spritually ill.

    One night I forgave myself for as Nat said I hated myself for all the reasons she stated. The light bulb went off and I’ve been working on this journey ever since.

    • Suzie Q says:

      I can definitely relate to that. For a long time, in both of the long term relationships I was in (one for 5 years and the other for 2) I held onto my anger for dear life, because I felt like if I forgave, I’d lose that fire in my belly to stand up for myself. It was as if, in some twisted way, holding onto this anger and unforgiveness was the only way I could be sure to act in a loving and caring way towards myself. Because otherwise, I’d assume doormat position and this guy, whoever he was, would “get away with it.” I think a big part of the forgiveness process is releasing the imagined responsibility for other people’s actions. There’s nothing you could have done. It’s not your fault, and you don’t need to hold on to this anger to prove that. Once you can forgive yourself, everything else will eventually follow. I know from experience that holding onto anger and stressful situations will literally make you sick. I’m still recovering, myself. Good luck on your process! You’ll get to where you’re going eventually. :)

  26. Suzie Q says:

    I learned a ton about forgiveness over the past couple years, with this past relationship. With everything that happened, especially before the first breakup, I was expected to forgive instantly. And I didn’t know any better, so I did my best to do so. If I seemed upset about something, it was like…I couldn’t talk about it. If I talked about it, I was dwelling on it, and I was…yknow. “Doing too much.” Like, a “sorry” is supposed to be enough, and everything is just supposed to go back to the way it had always been before. I know now the Reset Button is not healthy, and I also know myself quite a bit better and am working to forgive myself completely for not being able to just drop it and move on, or stand up for myself in such a way that would make him understand that forgiveness takes time and is a process. Before, just trying to ignore how I felt and push forward anyway was so stressful I ended up with a stress related medical condition that I’m still recovering from. And through my faith in God, I’m learning to forgive myself and by forgiving myself, I’m learning to genuinely forgive others and not hold as many grudges. Amazing post, Nat! It really hit home for me. I’m recovering, bit by bit. Leaving the City of Guilt. No longer do I want to have the Shoulda Done’s and Coulda Done’s as my neighbors. It is perfectly ok to be hurt by certain things, and I do not have to beat myself up with 2x the responsibility just because someone else refuses to carry theirs. I forgive myself, and by doing so, I’ve freed myself from it. I can forgive him too, and my parents, and the ex EUM, and my siblings, and friends, that person who always uses the last of the toilet paper but doesn’t tell anyone! Lol! :) It feels good. Not yet where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I USED to be!

  27. Aimee says:

    “In fact it’s easier to work through and let go of anger if you don’t have to contend with feeling like you’ve stagnated and derailed your current life and even your future by being consumed with living in the past.”

    Wow – said so well. Soooo much has changed in the last three years in EVERY area of my life that when I am angry, it has been hard to figure out just what I am angry about. Then I have to go inside and search, as I learned long ago that anger for me is just fear. Fear now that my mother is gone, fear I have lost all my extended family, loss with the jerk, fear of where do I go next carrer wise – so much change at once. Anger also prevents me from moving forward, making decisions, and really looking at myself so I can grow and learn.

    I know that I will forgive, but I never have to forget. Yes – there is a difference. And I do NOT have to forgive on anyone else’s time table. But the “quicker” I get there, the better for me.

    And I do have to say, I did forgive the AC after his indiscretion in his backyard. But unfortunately I expected him to change the behavior after to he asked for forgiveness, assuming he was “like” me. He has continued his “friendship” (or whatever it was) with her to this day.

    And who am I most angry at………myself. Journaling, prayer, self-talk (talking back to the inner critic) helps. I don’t want to be stuck anymore, it’s exhausting, I am tired of being “right”.

  28. Tess says:

    It’s important to me and my faith to work on truly forgiving someone, and I know if I don’t it will eat me up. We can forgive, then, in effect letting it go, but do we then question ourselves if we are being used and taken advantage of again… I felt I truly forgave him, and resolved the issues, then when things never changed I was left feeling as if I was the fool. How can we trust anyone?

    “We’re angry for not being able to control something, for not having the last word, for making mistakes, for not treating ourselves as we should, and for not being able to change the past. Sometimes we’re angry for still being angry” — how true! I have been angry at myself, but in some ways it IS misplaced because once I trusted him – and initially he earned it- what else was I to do? We are human after all, and some responsibility has to be on the other party, on the words spoken, on the actions taken. People say “you shouldn’t have trusted him” – easy to say in hindsight but in the moment two people who love each other have to experience vulnerability?
    I question myself, and even after 4 mos of NC, five years after the beginning of our relationship, I think about him all the time. I have forgiven him so many times, yet I think I COULD do it again it in my fantasy world, he would change.

  29. Ange Fonce says:

    Instead of forgiving for forgiveness means there has been either a right or wrong, good or bad. Which everyone can be! Be Compassionate!

    And that We are ALL on this dirt ball together trying to get through Life the best We can.

    As the adage goes…………”One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter!”

    I often have couples who get so stuck into the right and wrong, good and bad and finger pointing at each other. Men are this, Women are that etc, etc….That they forget they are two Human Beings who once Loved each other.

    In the end who is actually right or wrong, good or bad or from a metaphysical point of view…………Light or Dark?

    We all screw up in Life and make mistakes, We are all in the same boat and if you hold on to those rights and wrongs, goods and bad’s, those judgements. They will eat You alive inside as anger and resentment. So if and when another person comes along and that spark is there. There is also going to be a ton load of crap with it. And the same story will be played out again.

    Acceptance that We are all Human Beings, not one of us perfect and really trying to work it all out as we going along.

    And being Compassionate is far more powerful than forgiveness.

    Forgiveness comes with conditions. Because if the other does not respond with like………….it can lead to deeper resentment and anger.

    And when You get those “should’s” thrown in the mix………….They just kill relationships.

    Yes having s healthy respect for one’s self is positive. but being self-righteous in forgiveness is a form of arrogance.

    I know many women who complain bitterly about men while they are busy nailing themselves to the cross of “forgiveness” and “sacrifice” showing how “good” they are. Yet all the while building a massive rage of anger and resentment. And note there are men doing this too. being Mr Nice guy, when really they are being passive/ aggressive.

    You can be angry, upset and piss off. It’s expressing it in a Loving way that’s the trick.

    And being Compassionate with Yourself.

    Sitting on it no matter how many times You “forgive” will, just be an acid that eats You away.

    Amour

    A F

  30. ana says:

    Ok, it’s me again!

    Today, I found out, that actually, I don’t have to forgive him, or like him or whatever…
    Just went on a party and he was there, unannauced (if I knew he was coming, i would’t go) And he was there with his ex-girlfriend, apparently, they are back together or something.
    Couple of months ago his father died so people said he reached back to her… he dumped her the first time by the way…
    Anyway, he knew I’m gonna be there and he didn’t give a shit, so no, i don’t forgive him, i just ave to stop caring about this, so annoyed with myself. And i had a “When you’re afraid they’ll become a better person in a better relationship, without you” moment. I thought to myself, ok, maybe the death of his father was his epiphany moment and he realised, that his ex was the girl for him… and i was really annoyed, I was the one who had to listen to him for 6 months…
    Anyway, going to bed now… hoping he’s the same old jerk.

  31. maria says:

    Natalie,
    Brilliant!!!! You have to reach the forgiveness stage in your own time..allow yourself the time to come to terms and don’t rush it..there was a time I never thought I would get to this point..but I did and it can only get better because I have realized that as much as I beat myself up for not being as smart and rationalizing the warning signs I am only human and I gave it my all…I have learned so much about me and have become more savy. I will not ignore my intuition and my common sense..I will not repeat my past mistakes with obvious bad boys and unavailables..I will not waste my time trying to Florence Nightingale..Thanks Natalie I have been struggling with forgiveness for a long time and I have felt guilty not being able to be a good person and forgive… Now I feel that this too will take time ..my own time.

  32. learningtomoveon says:

    Yes, I am angry at myself, stark angry. And this anger keeps resufacing time and again. Yesterday was one such day. I had a huge meltdown and in the end took it all out on my current boyfriend who has been nothing short of an angel. I have realised I do this often, taking the anger out somewhere else. Right now in my life I feel stuck. There are situations like the job where I haven’t been able to move on to a more viable option, guess my ego stops me. I have lived a tortured existence for quite sometime, everyone’s doormat and I feel like running away to where no one knows me. I feel I am such a difficult person to live with and I don’t know what to change in me to be better, to be happier. I worked through a lot of my anger but the feeling of having been a less than successful person eats me up.

    • Kimberley Baxter says:

      From the sound of things, you may need to be single for a while to really get a handle on this anger thing you have, and also to get to know yourself a bit better. As for running away to somewhere where no one knows you lol I would say that running from your problems doesn’t always work, but I’m doing it right now, and I’ve done it before. I typically get the urge to move on in a big way after a relationship, and it usually involves airline tickets. Eat Pray Love much? But I won’t always have that opportunity, and eventually, I’ll just have to learn to make the best of where I’m at and deal with my problems in that situation. It may be the same for you.

      I find that beating yourself up over feeling a certain way tends to create a cycle of resentment and anger that’s difficult to stop. Something happens, you’re angry, you lash out, you beat yourself up and vow never to do it again, but then you think about it and you say you *should* be angry, so you become resentful, and eventually lash out in a bunch of other ways. You gotta come to terms with you and who you are and feel comfortable with that, and everything that happened, while building your self love and boundaries in a healthy way, and that may require you to be single so you can focus on yourself (at least, that’s the case for me). As they say, if Mama’s not happy, *nobody* is happy!

      This is the path I’m on, and your situation sounded very familiar, so it may work for you too. Good luck!

    • gala says:

      learningtomoveon,
      but why don’t you move on to a more viable option in your job? What has ego to do with it if you feel this is the right thing for you?
      When I was younger I did a couple of times what others thought was good for me (but I wasn’t sure it was). It made me angry, but was difficult to locate the source. When things didn’t go well I felt like a victim, so I decided to put a stop to this and claim my responsibility back (and for some of my family that was quite a shock :).
      From than on I’m always deciding for myself regardless of what others think. This way I can forgive myself if I make a mistake. And I’m in charge of my own life, which helps me feel more peaceful.

  33. Leigh says:

    You see? There are days when you’re happy, like I am today. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, enjoying the sunshine……

    For all the forgiveness, the getting over it, the acceptance, the moving on there are days like today where the sun is hot, and the air smells different and I remember him. It’s fleeting, it’s quick, but he comes back into my mind. I remember him without the BS, the basic level him with his guard down. The walks along all the beaches. Him showing me all his favourite places. Him sharing watching a shuttle take off on the 4th of July. His joy, my joy, just two human beings being together.

    I remember him being happy. I remember pre the BS. What a damn shame I lost such a good friend (I’m talking pre the bS). I miss the pre BS him, that’s not a bad thing to admit. I know why I miss him. I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone I felt so comfortable with.

    That’s how I feel today – and I’ve not felt like that in a long, long time.

    • PJM says:

      Leigh, that’s a beautiful post. Thank you.

      I think there is a strong possibility that you WILL meet someone that you feel really comfortable with, because you’re healing now, and there’s room in your life now for someone authentic.

      I think I am at around the same stage – I am really happy for the first time in ages, and even though I have the odd flash of painful memory, mostly I can just keep putting one step in front of the other, going forward instead of backwards!

  34. TJ says:

    They say that the opposite of “love” is not “hate”, it is “indifference”. That is ultimately where I want to be. Indifference. I am close. This whole idea of forgiveness fascinates me, confuses me, and I have decided will always be a “grey” issue instead of black & white for me. I think it is highly individual, depends on what has transpired & for how long… just so many factors to take into consideration. For me, exes do not belong in my life in any way (unless kids are involved, then a minimum is necessary). I find it odd that so & so down the street has their ex & new significant other over for dinner etc. Maybe they are bigger people than me? More evolved? Civilized? I tend to think not, I feel the more you have to keep your ex around means that you need some type of a security blanket, kind of negates the whole relationship that you had if you can sit around roasting wienies with your ex like nothing ever happened. Besides, why would you want someone who treated you badly IN a relationship to be your friend? I say a big PASS to that one.
    I feel the whole thing comes down to logically moving on from something that just didn’t work. Telling yourself better is yet to come. As Nat said, just letting it GO. Sure, hold that mirror up to yourself so that old mistakes don’t become new ones, but put the damn thing down after you have had this introspection – find new ways to BE. Then is when you realize, shit, I didn’t even think of the ex AC even once today!! YAY! And from there it only gets better.
    Yes, forgiveness… what an idea. I totally believe in it. I believe it is for me to forgive me. If I am honest, like some of the other posters on here, I have to say that I don’t feel that I will ever be at the stage where I “forgive” him, not because I can’t necessarily, but because there is no need to. What is done is done & it is in the past. He has no part in my future (because I have decided I don’t want him in it in any capacity). Do I wish him well? Not particularly. Do I wish him ill? Not particularly. I don’t care one way or the other & I am happy, truly happy that I don’t. Focus now is squarely on me – where it should have been all along. As this site has…

    • Dawn says:

      Ah, indifference, it’s a wonderful place to be.. I too am starting to get a taste of what that is like now too. It is possible to get there once you cut contact and stay in no contact longer and longer. I long for the day when I wake up in the morning and he doesn’t pop into my mind. Then as time progresses I think of him less and less until one day I don’t at all. I am so thankful that I have come this far and I expect things to keep getting better day by day. I am getting there. I am so glad that I’ve done what’s right for me for a change. Bless everyone on here for sharing their struggles and truimphs, it’s inspiring for all of us.

  35. Dawn says:

    Emotions are such complex things, forgivness is one of them. Forgiving someone for what they did to you doesn’t mean that you hang around and accept what they did to you and take them back. Ask yourself why are you putting up with someone who has cheated on you? Can we trust them when they say that they are no longer seeing them- without real proof I’d say you’d be foolish to do so. What does it mean when someone cheats on you? It means they have no respect for you or your relationship and that they really don’t love you even if they tell you otherwise you can’t beleive that, they are liars. Without respect or care for you there is no love. If someone tells you that they don’t love you-either by their actions or by what they say believe them. . Don’t beleive their lies, if your partner goes from cheating on you to saying they aren’t anymore and that they do love you-don’t beleive them, people that flip flop like this are only trying to protect themselves from losing whatever it is they get from you (money, status, a place to live) if you choose to ignore this reality and go into denial about it your only setting yourself up for more pain. Don’t put your coat of denial on and your rose colored glasses because you can’t handle the pain of the truth. Your only avoiding the inevitable further hurt. Don’t let someone continue to abuse you and disrespect you. Step back from the relationship and get help with handling the emotions you are feeling with someone who is going to be objective, with someone that has nothing to gain by helping you uncover the truth of what is really happening. Alot of marriage therapist have a misguided idea that cheaters, if they say they are not doing it anymore and say things like they aren’t cheating anymore, are telling the truth and that just helps the cheater get away with it. You can’t beleive the cheater, you have to have hard proof that the relationship is over for real so that should be persued-you need to have them followed. You can’t beleive a liar after they’ve lied to you like this. If you don’t get real proof you are making a big mistake. Don’t get caught up in trying to figure out what went wrong in your relationship, or what you did or…

  36. Dawn says:

    didn’t do to cause this because it’s not your fault that your partner choose to cheat, your partner cheated on you because they are not capable of dealing with whatever it is within themselves that they choose this path of dealing with their own issues. There is nothing that you can do to “fix” a cheater. People cheat because they want their cake and eat it to, they do this because they don’t want to let go of the relationship that they are in with you because it provides them with something that they need and can‘t provide on their own. A person cheats on their partner because they don’t love, care, or respect you or the relationship-period. You have to let them go because it’s the best thing for you to do to protect yourself from further harm. You have to work towards accepting it, and move towards unhooking yourself from whatever illusions have kept you hooked in. Don’t accept this kind of behavior , it doesn’t matter what explanation they give you or excuse for why they did what they did, recognize it for what it is, it’s a betrayal of your trust and your commitment. They broke the vows they took and they didn’t respect you or those vows in the first place. Don’t take them back. They only want out of the relationship with you anyway. So let them go. And remember if they are back tracking now and saying the opposite it’s because they are trying to protect their own interests, and save themselves from being put out of their house and losing you as a person to fallback on, manipulate and use for themselves.

  37. natashavbond says:

    On forgiveness in general and avoidants in particular:

    I do forgive you and I truly accept who you are: love avoidant-withholder ( the list goes on) but I do not have to be with you. I can still love you from a distance. Almost platonically. That’s what I told my exb. I think, he is in a state of a shock. Two complete weeks of NC, he tried to reach out, I did not react.

    Much love to everyone today!

  38. jaded13 says:

    Your article could not have come at a better time NML! I have been struggling of moving through the emotions of a past breakup. While it happened almost a year ago, the break up was very hurtful and painful. It’s like we were two kids playing in the park together when the ex decided to go play with someone else. Instead of me dealing with things then, I did what I was best at and buried those emotions in the deepest chambers of my being. The ex recently has been contacting me (mind you he is still with the other woman) and we ran into each other last weekend at an even where he was working.
    During one of our recent conversations I told him I had forgiven him for his deplorable behavior. I felt that if I he heard those words and I said them, it would be closure for us and I could finally move on and away from that relationship. It wasn’t until I saw him in person, that I realized how much the feelings of hurt, anger, rejection, and even love for this man I felt all at one time. In the past I could say “I forgive you” and move on. But for some reason I simply had so much buried in regards to my past relationship that I became angry with myself for allowing my ex to hold that kind of power over me.
    So I have been analyzing this past week as to what it really means to forgive. Most people want to hear those words as it makes them feel better for their behavior in the relationship. I even found once I withheld the words to someone for longer than needed as I wanted them to still feel like crap about the way they acted towards me. When I finally said the phrase ” I forgive you”, they began to cry like a little kid and told me thank you.
    To forgive someone is a powerful gift. I always thought of it as a gift to someone else but until recently not towards me.
    I’m still dealing with the after shocks of last weekend and I know it will be a longer process to grieve that relationship than I had anticipated. I do know this blog has helped me to figure out that I am an emotionally unavailable woman. Maybe this recent event is the first step in letting all of those past relationships go and really forgiving myself.

  39. Sam says:

    If I might add – and this took many months to get me to say this an mean it – that I am thankful, yes thankful, for going through the trials and torture of dating and getting dumped by my past ex-EUM. I would not have learned the lessons I did with out all of it. I think another poster said that had she not suffered through the pain she never would have truly LEARNED the lessons, understood red flag behavior and known her boundaries. They say you always have to learn things the hard way and I couldn’t agree more. I feel like I have so many tools under my belt to handle my relationships thanks to the experiences I had and this website. Baggage Reclaim has helped me really articulate my feelings and pretty much decode the mess of feelings I have been dealing with in the last year or so.
    So I will forgive…and give thanks!

  40. Lawrence Garcia says:

    Interesting topic and quite a impressive view to it too. I think that forgiving depends on who and what the persons did to us. Personally I easily forgive people who has done something not good but I will always remember it. There’s a saying wounds heal but it will always leave a scar.

  41. Michelle says:

    Forgiveness has to do with mainly ourselves…..we get sucked in (many times very innocently) to affairs and affairs of the heart and sell ourselves short, putting up with being treated in a way that goes against everything you believe in…..all for what? for the love of your life who is skilled at lying about their feelings for you to get sex, managing down your expectations until there is virtually nothing left, reals you in time and time again when you become clear only to lay it on thicker and thicker and keep you in his trance for as long as he can.

    We need to forgive ourselves for huge lapses in reasoning that sometimes last years.

  42. Susan says:

    I am sorry but no MM who future fakes through his teeth to keep us happily in my place on the side will ever get my forgiveness.

    The forgiveness is reserved for me and I owe it to myself for putting up with his lies!

  43. Movedup says:

    “Personally, if I can forgive myself and work hard at getting on with my own life, that’s all I’m worried about because the truth is, most of the people we burn energy up trying to work out forgiveness for aren’t busting down our doors for it.” Absolutely!!!!!!!!!!

    I beat my head around trying to forgive and wasted a hella lot time trying to do. Haven’t done it. Had this conversation with my doc just a week ago. His perspective was – its not working for you so stop. I can forgive me – I see clearly what got me into that situation in the first place – I accept my part and forgive me for it. I don’t think I will ever forgive him FOR HIS ACTIONS – BUT I can give my self permission to forget about it. He can seek forgiveness from his maker. Not my job. Giving myself permission to just let go of trying to forgive was freeing enough. As doc said get out and get living and I have been. Lately something odd has been happening – he is showing up in my dreams asking for me to forgive him – I wake up with a WTF – any thoughts on that one?

  44. Ramona says:

    A dream is a wish your heart makes – Movedup. You probably want him to recognize how he hurt you and ask forgiveness. I know I wish for that. Unfortunately.

    • Movedup says:

      You are probably right Ramona – like that will ever happen – NOT. Then again maybe my heart makes the wish that I can forgive regardless of if he asks for it or not. In my dreams I am telling him to go away – there must be some residual anger. Maybe next time he shows up – I will try to forgive and then he will be gone for good. Feels like the last piece of the puzzle.

  45. EmLAW says:

    Just received this text from my MM….

    Happy day after Easter. Hope you had a nice day. yesterday was sons 16th birthday we had 34 people at our house.

    On forgiveness…..I will never forgive myself if I give into him again. Sometimes you are so blinded its just plain stupidity then we wake up and see what we put up with and for god only knows what reason. I guess it was going to take something so blatent as this to wake me up. So, thank you MM you are forgiven despite how heartless this was it…the situation I have been ignoring has been red flag after red flag. Thank you, you have shown me who you really are and how completely stupid I am.

    • leisha says:

      You may have been blind but not stupid. Hope is interesting and not especially logical. You need to take care of yourself with kindness, self-care and awareness, trust, respect. You don’t need to be abusing yourself anymore than you already have…forgive yourself and move on armed with the lessons you learned “the hard way”. Armed with knowledge. Armed with information gained from seeking. It doesn’t matter how the guy is reaching out; he’s married. He’s not what you need to concern yourself with. You have been hurt. You need healing. Please get off of the being mean to yourself/punishment train. It is unproductive. I think you have suffered enough don’t you? Grieve. You have put yourself through hell.

    • I'mFree says:

      EmLaw, dont beat yourself up for not noticing the red flags, just count yourself lucky you are getting out now and not spending any more time. I did smirk at the text, simply because it reminded me so much of the ones my ExAC sent me (and worse, i’m ashamed to say).

      I’m not sure if I can forgive my ExAC – I’m at the stage now where I dont want to be with him (rather than kidding or trying to convince myself I dont want to be), relieved i’m outta there, stopped all the what-ifs, dont care about who he is seeing now (pity them). I figure if I want to waste my time being jealous about other peoples relationships, there are plenty of good ones out there I can be envious of; any he has certainly won’t come under that title!

      I’m now in the indifferent stage 99% of the time. There is still that 1% of time when I feel like calling him for a catch up – but it’s not a really strong urge. I can ignore it. It just takes me by surprise – although this 1% does seem to come along when I remember the good bits. (granted there weren’t that many, but over 5 years there were a few).

      Does anybody else struggle with connecting with their low self esteem? I *know* I have v low self esteem simply from looking at my behaviour over the past 35 years. and how I have let other people treat me (mainly men) But if you asked me “do you feel like you dont deserve much” or “are you worth less than the next person”, i’d say no. I’m not sure how to start boosting my self esteem if I have so much trouble feeling it? If that makes sense….

      • leisha says:

        I think sometimes we confuse worth with being full of ourselves, egotistical and selfish in the most negative sense. We seem to be givers but not very giving or forgiving of ourselves. It seems to be ego issues and training…something about helping and ignoring our own needs…thinking we care and can help…but not opting out when we receive negative feedback…perhaps it’s a lack of education in relationships ( that we are now attaining). I think as we learn to opt out of bad situations and re-learn to trust ourselves our self-esteem grows.

      • PJ says:

        I had trouble connecting with my self esteem as well, until I stopped thinking of an abstract ‘self esteem’ and began to notice my daily, moment-by-moment relationship with myself. You may ‘believe’ you deserve better or the best, you may ‘believe’ that you think highly of yourself, but it takes vigilance to notice how you really speak/think to yourself on a regular basis. We all have our buttons. Take notice when you say to yourself, ‘You’re stupid’ or ‘It doesn’t matter’ or ‘You shouldn’t…’ or myriad variations of such things – and it might not even be very loud at first. Words like that don’t have to be loud, but their effects resonate. Notice when you say these things to yourself, stop, and notice the trigger. What kinds of situations bring out this negative voice? This will give you valuable information about your issues. Also notice how it makes you feel to talk to yourself like this. You are probably very used to feeling this way (hurt, sad, misunderstood, bad, wrong, neglected). Those feelings are like a little person, the little you you’re scolding, but you need to heal and uplift. When you catch this negative voice, try to just pause. You don’t need to flip it around and gush over yourself, but do stand up for yourself and maybe come back with ‘I’m not stupid, I’m just human’ or ‘I’m just me and that is fine’ or simply ‘It’s ok.’ Allow you to be you. And you will begin, slowly to come to know and honor your true self. If you can honor your true self with you, you can do it with any AC or boundary buster that comes along. This kind of daily work has helped me greatly (-:

        • EmLAW says:

          Thank you to all! Now if I could only just muster the strength…and self esteem to get away from him for good. The desire is there it is just implementing the plan and forgiving myself enough to know I deserve so much better than this!

          It is so hard when you believe and trust in something with them and to complicated things further, you do have karma and they know when you are leaving them and they pour on every bit of charm in the book. I was so close to it yesterday…so close.

    • Dawn says:

      @ EM Law
      I know what you’re going through right now, been there myself. I spent a long long time in the land of denial, having moments of clarity, leaving and gettting pulled back in. The only way to get beyond this is to stop denying and stay away and have no contact to break the bond.
      You’re doing what’s best for you by staying away from the MM. More power to you , congratulations on your awakining. Stick with it. I pray for your continued strength and peace.

      • EmLAW says:

        Dawn – Thanks for your support! You have no idea how nice it is to feel like I am not the only one to endure this…so, you think no contact is my only hope? limited contact and the bs diet have sure given me a lot of clarity. Almost every post Natalie writes can be applied to my situation – sad but true. I would not have gotten so far without BR and the support of so many wonderful people on here!

        • leisha says:

          We all think we are the only ones to feel as we do until we discover how common it is…this enables us to follow the paths others have trod that leads on to freeing ourselves despite our worries and concerns and love for those who were/are unable to be with us in the capacity that we damn well deserve…so follow the lead of the others who have been where you are…it is painful but leads to freedom. If the one you love grows then surely time will lead you to encounter each other again and you will be able to spot if real change occured. Meanwhile you can free yourself and discover how to protect yourself from going down roads that do not give you a mutual caring relationship with another.

        • Dawn says:

          @ Em Law
          Your welcome. You are on a journey back from being in a very confusing and destructive path, You are waking up to the fact that you need to treat yourself better and take care of yourself by taking in the reality of what this relationship is, what it isn’t and what it will never be. You’ve limited contact and went on the bs diet and this helped you gain alot of clarity as you said, we all go through this on your journeys out of the dark, dead end realtionship with MM and back into the light, loving relationship with ourselves where we focus on doing what’s good for us. No contact is an act of self love and self preservation , it’s the next step you have to take to get back on the right track in your life, it’s the only thing that you do have control over in a situation such as this. So, do yourself a favor and make that happen for you. You deserve way better then to be toyed with by a MM, they are out for what they can get from you. Anyone that would go down this path of cheating on the person that they have made a commitment to be faithful to doesn’t only not care about their partner, they don’t really care about you either no matter what they tell you. Sad, but true. The only person they ultimately care about is themselves. If he was that unhappy in his marriage he’d do whatever he needed to do to get the hell out of it. And if he had character he wouldn’t bring someone else into his life in the mean time. You need to think about why you would involve yourself with a MM, and why you would be a party to hurting another woman. I don’t care if she’s a bitch on wheels, nobody deserves to be treated so heartlessly. If he can do this to her, he can do it to you. Don’t believe for one second that he wouldn’t because somehow you’re different, or he loves you more, that he wouldn’t do this to you. Consider that you aren’t the first woman he’s gone down this path with. Fight back and go no contact so you don’t become another another disrespected woman in his life. I now it hurts to hear this but it’s got to be said. Do what’s best for you and go no contact.

          • EmLAW says:

            I finally had enough and left the voice mail (I have learned from experience that I can’t hear his voice 1) he will talk me out of it and/or 2) I just loose my nerve – will and can’t do it). I sobbed the entire messsage but left it and haven’t turned my phone on since – Day 2 of no contact!!.

            I have cried several times (eyes well up and tearspouring down my face) but, nothing like crying myself to sleep when we were on good terms and I didn’t hear from him. As predicted, when I got to work I had an email waiting for me from MM but I simiply moved it into a folder for reading when I am stronger.

            I forgive him, he just doesn’t have the capacity to be who/what I need. I will not ever again settle for crumbs from anyone. If our love is indeed as strong as it felt on good days, our time will come but until then I am going to try to recover what it was that I lost in myself that allowed me to have such poor judgement/will power this past year and 1/2. My mood/outlook changes every two seconds so I am just going keep myself busy and concentrate on how I deserve to be treated.

            Probably the single most hardest thing I have ever done in my life but I refuse to be the bandaid for his marriage unhappy or not any longer. The straw that broke the camels back was when he referred to us as Linus (him) and his security blanket (me). Sorry but I deserve to be the love of someone’s life and treated like that.

          • EmLAW says:

            Read the email, read all of the texts that were left on my phone, read the card he sent me. Sent a thank you text…but said little else. Very disappointed in myself but still feeling tomorrow is another day that I can get back to my resolve of getting out of this. I just can’t bring myself to not respond to him because I think its so rude when he does it to me.

  46. Finally Happy says:

    Thank you for this post. My boyfriend and I broke up almost 2 weeks ago in the midst of a very traumatic and difficult situation. When I realized that I was more worried about what I could and should be doing differently to make him care more instead of being concerned with MYSELF is when I knew we were at the point of no return. And after that moment I had glaring epiphanies about the rest of the relationship up until then. The truth was, if I was in a healthy relationship with the right person to begin with, I wouldn’t have to put myself through such mental gymnastics and basically beg a grown man to show me sympathy and compassion. While I realized I could have done a lot of things differently, what he showed me were his true colors-they would have come out at some point or another. As horrible as my situation felt at the time, if it hadn’t come to a head in that way, I would have probably found a way to rationalize and overlook it, and wasted a lot more time on a person who doesn’t deserve it. I don’t need to forgive the way he treated me. He didn’t ask for forgiveness ANYWAY. It’s just who he is, and he knows it better than anyone. It’s not my job to punish him for it. The only person I need to forgive is myself for going against my better judgement and gut instincts. We were happy at one time, and I will never forget the person that I loved. I am now much more aware of what I’m capable of, and have obviously learned lessons from my past by not continuing to seek the validation that is disscussed on here so much. I know I’m a good person, I know that he is aware that what he did was wrong, and I know that if he is ever going to change it will be on his own time by lessons he chooses to learn himself. And by the time that happens, I will be a completely different, better person on my own, and I won’t have to feel responsible or indebted to anyone but myself. Thank you again for this blog. If I hadn’t been reading this for the past 2 years, I would still be tormenting myself over what could have been, instead of being at peace with the freedom to be able to live in the present and look forward.

  47. Movedup says:

    @ I’mFree – I can totally relate with connecting with my low self esteem – its a good sign really. That means you are shifting the focus on you where it belongs so give yourself snaps for that. Recognizing it and dealing with it are two different things. I struggle more with myself than I did with the ExEUM/AC – why – because I am the source. It was convenient to play blame on you/shame on you pointing the finger at him in fact using him as an avoidance of dealing with me. Not that I advocate the blame/shame game on anyone including myself. But yes – challenging false beliefs you hold about yourself is much more difficult because the same thing we did in relationships with unavailables we do with ourselves – I am guilty of overthinking/over analyzing – betting on my own potential yet at the same time setting myself up to fail – the list goes on. Take a look at the red flag and see how many apply to you doing it to yourself. Did you take over where they left off? If that isn’t a HOLY SH*T! moment I don’t know what is. Recognize your own behavior and see how that plays into it. The one thing I have learned is to be kind to me and to cut ties with the negative haters – pissy whiney moany people who are generally unhappy most of the time. I avoid them – they only bring you down to their level – sound familar – managing you down – don’t do it to yourself or allow anyone else to do it to you either. Stay strong.

    • outergirl says:

      I know I need to do some more healing, but every day I turn the same questions over and over in my head..do I suffer from low self-esteem? If I dig deeper, it is and has always been ‘fear’ that probably kept me from choosing a healthy mate. Fear that someone would engulf me and control me. I really do reject the notion that I am not good enough, but rather, I am so afraid of having my boundaries breached and ignored that I only let in the most superficial, casual, just-passing-by, men in my life. My father was weak, I made mention of that in earlier entries., my mother; an abusive horror. I knew what I did not want to be. I knew what I did not want. But I still struggle to fill that vacuum w/something healthy.

  48. elsiewondercat says:

    HI Natalie,

    I recently went through a split with someone who became very verbally abusive and threatening to me. I felt vulnerable and alone and unprotected. In the following days, I emailed my ex before this guy, someone who had truly broken my heart a year ago, in fact broken my heart twice in two years by just shutting down and moving on. I emailed him to ‘forgive him’. I’m not sure whether i just needed to feel some inner peace on some level, after dealing with such shocking and disturbing abuse, but after reading this article i feel like a bit of a numpty! I just said that I would never forget how much he hurt me but that I had reached a point where I could forgive. I didn’t expect a reply, but i got one, him apologising and taking some blame, and that was that. I wasn’t seeking to get back with him. Clearly I may have eased his conscience, and I have moved on from the pain he caused me in a huge way, but is that only because someone else came along and was even more nasty and disrespectful to me….hmmmm it’ll be a long time before I show this one any forgiveness.

  49. Sue C says:

    NML,
    I don’t know if you are still reading responses, but this topic brought me to tears. It is one of the (many) issues that drove me to your website in the first place. I am struggling to forgive someone right now and it is–by far–the hardest thing have EVER tried to do. My wound was inflicted many years ago and although I thought I had moved past it and healed, it turns out that what I thought was healed was merely “scabbed” over. Even though I think the decision of NC those many years ago was right, I don’t think I ever really dealt with everything in a healthy manner, i.e., there was very little grieving and a WHOLE LOT of anger. And therein lies the problem–I just can’t seem to get past my anger after all of these years. I’m stuck! (this is where my tears started b/c you hit the nail on the head) It’s as if I am looking for the magic bullet or pill to melt the anger away in one fell swoop and when I find out that I’m still at that bitter place, the cycle begins again.
    Every piece of literature and self-help makes it seem that you are a piece of crap if you still have people in your life that you haven’t forgiven. It is as if the person that wounded you is the “victim” in the process and you are the big, bad ”grudgeholder”.
    My question is what if you make it through the process–you begin release the anger and the pain–but you come face to face with the perpetrator again–and your wounds are once again opened–then what???

    • leisha says:

      According to your post you BEGAN to lose the pain…this indicates the process isn’t over and that your anger isn’t purged so that it is not a wonder that you still react to the person you spoke of. It is a process that has you reeling but if you continue the work you should eventually find peace. You may not ever be comfortable around the other party and that is okay. I think writing out your feelings and expressing your anger on paper would be helpful. I think it hides a lot of hurt and disapointment and following the roots will help you get out of your “stuck” state. Perhaps writing the story of your relationship will help you express the things you may be bottling up inside. There isn’t a time limit on grief.

  50. Dawn says:

    @EM Law
    I feel your pain, but there will be more better days ahead as time goes by and keep reminding yourself of your convictions as to why you have stopped going down the futile path with him, when you start to faulter, or go down that path of thinking the relationship could end up the way you wished it too, continue to remind yourself that this man isn’t capable of giving anything more than a part-time relationship. Remind yourself of the other woman in this and how he lies and is deceitful to her just imagine yourself in her shoes.
    Stay on the course you are on and keep caring and respecting yourself.

    • EmLAW says:

      @ Dawn….thanks! I am very dissapointed in myself that I only lasted three days NC but, when we did talk again he managed to say some very stupid things (besides all of the sicky sweet, sappy things that really don’t do anything for me anymore because I know they are just talk) that just exagerated the fact that he doesn’t have the capacity (even if it was only 1/2 time) to be what I need and deserve. This time I won’t end it with a dramatic voice mail I will just leave quickly and quietly out the back door.

      • outergirl says:

        EmLaw,
        It took time but mostly the experience of constant disappointment to get to the point where I ENJOY not responding. I just think of all the unanswered messages and the ‘maybes’ that really meant ‘no’ but he was too non-confrontational to say what he meant, to things we never did and then I go ‘ooh look! a message from him, I’ll bet he’d sure like to hear from me..delete! Trust me, no reply carries more weight then any reply. Think how empty he made you feel when he didn’t respond. Give it right back.

  51. EmLAW says:

    I am now feeling sad/bad for his wife (according to him its over they are just staying for the kids) but now I can see how they got to where they are.

  52. Lola says:

    I recently read in article about forgiveness somewhere else (O Magazine, U.S.) It says forgiveness is important for ourselves. It is important not to carry around anger and hate. First we must grieve, and then forgive. The article suggests that it shouldn’t take longer than 2 years to grieve.

    I love this blog. The blog about words was so important to me. I think I have forgiven my assclown. If I am using your definitions correctly, I can empathize with his behavior. I understand why he does what he does, but that doesn’t excuse his behavior, or make me think it is a good idea to continue to subject myself to it. (Wow, I think I am actually making progress getting over him!)

    The problem is, he has asked me to forgive him. Why does he need this? Do I break the no contact rule to give it to him? I have forgiven him, because I don’t want to carry around the anger anymore. But why does he need it from me?

    • grace says:

      Lola
      You know that christians often talk about forgiveness (sometimes as if it’s as easy as taking out the bins). I read on a website (Rebecca Mitchell, a christian counsellor, ) about a woman who had been sexually abused by her father. She went to her church leaders who said she should go to him and forgive him. She went. He raped her. Only a naive fool would suggest that forgiveness = continuing to interact with that person. Or, to be frank, would expect someone to forgive their dad for raping them in 24 months. 2 years is good guideline, especially in relationships cos most of us go through this hurly-burly. But it doesn’t cover every case.
      Do not break the no-contact rule to forgive him. If what he does was bad he should have the decency to leave you alone. It’s an extreme example but Myra Hindley wanted to be released from prison because she had “changed”. If she’d changed she’d realise what she’d done and serve out her sentence without complaint.
      There’s every chance that if as an AC he just wants to manipulate you (even if it’s only subconsciously). Let him forgive himself.

    • NML says:

      Lola, as many people have already discovered, forgiveness isn’t something that just comes down to saying ‘I forgive you’ otherwise we’d all be moved on and hunky dory. As a result, your ex has no right to request that you speed up and forgive him on his beat, or specifically break NC to go and anoint him. Forgiveness isn’t done for the convenience of others and the fact is that when someone like him says ‘Sorry’ or specifically asks for it forgiveness, it really means ‘Can we hurry the eff up and move on so I can feel better about this and forget?’

      Stop engaging with your ex.

  53. Lawyer_girl_1 says:

    I have to comment here, Natalie, but first I want to say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart for what you’re doing on this blog!! As someone who lost a great deal of time in relationships because I was so accustomed to giving over to anyone else who “needed _____ more” (from my younger sister to my younger brothers to my parents to whomever, because I was the “oldest” and ought to let them have their turn – !!), I have learned decades’ worth of stuff I should have learned when I was 16…

    Anyway, the thing about forgiveness is, it’s not for someone else; it’s for us. Forgiveness is giving up our *right* to hurt someone else because they’ve hurt us. It’s not easy, and it shouldn’t be, to get there, but ultimately, it’s necessary for us – so that we can let grass and flowers grow over the grave of the pain that occurred. Forgiveness is not, however, allowing the person who caused that pain to be in our lives, or to be our friend, or whatever. Freyjah’s (4/23/2011) comment touched on this, too – it’s not reconciliation, nor is it a “do-over” for the person to come back and screw with you again. It’s just letting go of the need/right/desire to hurt them back for how you hurt.

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!