Forgiveness and the betrayed

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I have been spurred on to write this post because there has been a lot of discussion on social media from people asking ‘when do you know you’ve forgiven ‘them’? When does forgiveness come? In fact I have been asked this often. As I said on some of the sites that really is a million dollar question. In fact I would go so far as to say if you can provide the answer then that answer would be priceless!

I wrote a journal entry ten months after Danny and I got back together in which I talk about a bereavement training course I had attended and what I had learnt from it. In the entry I say that I forgive Danny, but in the reflections I ask what forgiveness is, and I discuss how it is tied in with so many things.

In the journal entry of the aformentioned I say that ‘ I want to move on with my life and I cannot if I am consumed by bitterness.’ I was right, although at that time I believed that forgiveness was something that came into your life, all singing, all dancing, announcing itself: ‘Hey girl, you have now forgiven him.’ When in fact I now believe that forgiveness is not about the person who hurt you, forgiveness is about a state of mind that will enable you to move forward in your life. That is why we all look for it. That is why people ask me ‘when?’ When did I forgive Danny? They want to be able to move on, and they believe that being able to say they forgive will give them that peace of mind.

Others on the hand say that they will never forgive, some say they cannot, some say they will not. Some people believe that to forgive means you have given them absolution, as if to say what they did was alright. In fact if you look up any definition of forgiveness absolution will be in the frame. Now given that absolution has one definition of: forgiven, formal release from guilt, obligation or punishment then I understand why some people who have been betrayed find that hard to do.

I believe that forgiveness is not the same for everyone. In fact before I wrote this post I wondered about what exactly do I forgive Danny for? Is it that he left me for three weeks? Is it that he set up home with someone else? Is it that he lied to me, gaslighted me, told me he didn’t love me. I could go on. And it really got me thinking what is forgiveness for me? So If I go back to absolution (remember I am now looking from a perspective of over 12 years) and break it down here is what I would consider:

Formal release from guilt: I often wrote in my journal, even in the early days, that I did not want Danny to feel pain like he felt. I loved him and at the time I wrote that I could not see what it was going to achieve.  So I told Danny I forgave him within weeks of his coming home. Then I continued to berate him, torment him, hate him and unleash my fury at him. I hadn’t forgiven him, the pain was too raw and I believed that I was where I was all because of him. But over time as we worked together I became worried for him, I no longer wanted him to feel that pain. I wanted him to be able to leave it behind. It wasn’t going to make any difference to where I was, in fact it was doing more damage than good.

Even today I say that Danny cries sometimes for what he did. He cannot forgive himself. But I can absolve him for what he did to me, I don’t need to punish him, I am my own person and punishing someone you love is, for me, not a good ingredient for a relationship.

Danny has no obligation to me because he fulfilled the obligation he had to help me and make things better years ago. I do not expect him to be  beholden to me any more.

Does that mean that I think that what Danny did all those years ago is  now okay? No, of course not! But the clue is in the fact that it was all those years ago, and you can get to a place where it is filed away, not constantly ruminated on and re-run every now and again like an old movie. What is the point of that?

It took me a long time to get to where I am, a lot or reading, and lot of reflecting and before anyone says to me ‘Why should you have to do it when it was not your fault?’ No it wasn’t but it was my life and it still is. It was up to me what I did with it.

As I have said in my post I did not want to lose my soul. I did not want to be so consumed by bitterness that it chewed me up and spat me out and ruined my life. I didn’t want to feel anger all the time, at the beginning I didn’t want ‘her’ to have the satisfaction of ruining my life. I was desperate to forgive because even in my madness I knew it was the only way that I could move forward, in MY life. So I tried to make it happen. But of course it was never just going to happen on demand, no matter how times I said it! For me it was process: Danny had to be contrite, Danny had to change his actions and his reactions, Danny had to show me over and over again that he was trying to make it better. But I had to listen, I had to stop berating and questioning and driving myself insane. I also had to find myself, understand myself so  that then I could move forward and forgive Danny and allow myself to live the life I wanted.

I was struggling with my inability to ‘move on’. Over time. as you will see, I realised that by trying to make it move forward faster I was just adding to my madness; I had to learn to accept where I was.

It was true that crying together helped because we were both appreciating that both of our hearts were broken: so we were then both coming from the same place as we tried to glue themback together. It was the simplist thing that we had in common.

When I put this subject out on social medial people said that they wanted to forgive, for me that is a start, but I would ask why they want to forgive. If it is to move forward, if it i because they don’t want their life to be continously affected by what happened then great. But if it is because they want it all to be over, and they want to go back to what they had before then that is a dangerous place, because you cannot go back you can only go forward.  Someone said to me that they would never forgive because then it meant thta they were saying that what happened was okay. I don’t agree. What happened happened as I say ‘it is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t’, holding onto that will only damage the person who doesn’t want to let it go.

in an article about forgiveness in psychology today they discuss whether our refusal to forgive is because we want to prove the person who has hurt us has done wrong, which then gives validity to our pain. For me I was sick of that pain as the years went by, I didn’t need to give it validity it was what it was. I just needed to let it go for my sanity and my life.

I believe as they say in the psychology article that forgiveness is for you: the person who forgives. Perhaps that is why they say forgiveness comes from within. It is about stoppping the narrative of what happened. Not forgetting it, it happened you learn from it, you park it like an old peice of furniture and then you don’t dwell on it any more. It is there as something that taught you one of the hardest lessons, but it can also be something that makes you so strong, enables you to find yourself and truly live in the moment, confident in yourself.

What happened to me did just that, I found myself I gained my identitiy back, I realised that people are people and they make mistakes, and I realised that I could be free. As the time moved on I realised I  could take Danny  with me, and I knew that I had forgiven him because I no-longer allowed it to consume my life, and I no-longer wanted or needed him to feel pain. it is strange that I have chosen the word freem  because as they say in the article, forgiveness is really about freedom.

Do you want to be free? Just ask yourself that every now and again and over time I am sure you will be. Give it time.

Rosie

Making This Better the book is now available including the journal entries for the first 5 years of our recovery & the whole 21 days of ‘The War’. Available internationally in paperback and ebook  at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also available at Xlibris and Apple Books for iPad and Waterstones Bookstores for click & collect

I would love to hear your feedback.

 

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If you think our story would help you & would like to read our story covering our first 5 years of recovery, you can buy the book…

Making This Better the book is now available including the journal entries for the first 5 years of our recovery & the whole 21 days of ‘The War’. Available internationally in paperback and ebook  at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also available at Xlibris and Apple Books for iPad and Waterstones Bookstores for click & collect

I would love to hear your feedback.

I would love to hear your feedback ❤️

 

3 comments

  1. “…they discuss whether our refusal to forgive is because we want to prove the person who has hurt us has done wrong, which then gives validity to our pain.” Interesting. I don’t think that I have to bear my pain on my sleeve though or seek validation. My pain is valid regardless of whether its recognized by others. It’s enough that I know how I was hurt/ harmed. You and I have talked before about how I prefer “acceptance” to “forgiveness.” For me I can find peace in acceptance that doesn’t come with the same baggage that I feel in the word forgiveness. It’s just a better term for me (others may see it as splitting hairs). These awful things happened to me but they weren’t about me and I can’t change them. It just is what it is. It completely sucks, but it happened. Things will either get better or, worst case, I sit in acceptance of what happened and move on in another direction. We all deserve that peace, regardless of how we ultimately deal with our partners moving forward. Living in pain is no way to live long term.
    xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my friend, you know I agree with you. I believe that forgiveness is such a difficult word that I have changed the title to this post so many times. You and, and so many others, know it is a word, that makes it’s connotations so difficult.

      I have so many ask me about forgiveness, but I cannot give a timeline, or what it means. Quite simply there is no answer.
      But what you & I both know, that eventually it comes from within:we are sorry we feel as we do, we forgive you for your insecurities, but we forgive ourselves also, that we cannot stay, or forget, or live with it. I do believe that forgiveness comes from within, whatever choices we make, we are where we are (whose fault it us is neither here nor there) we are where we are, and we understand and whatever choice we make, is all about forgiveness, or acceptance for me also it is the same thing. I hope this makes sense. I know you know, and hope you know I understand. M ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely. We each need to find the concept that brings us peace. When I see people on tv who have lost a loved one due to a violent crime or something, I’m always astounded if they say they forgive the perpetrator. I wonder if they really mean it. I don’t honestly think I could do that. But accept what happened? Sure, I can get there (it happened, it wasn’t about me, and while it sucks I can’t change it) and if that’s enough to bring me that peace? Great. Maybe the advice is to just strive to get to where you can find that peace and quit living in pain (and, perhaps, ruminating on past events)? Get there in whatever way you can, regardless of what it’s called, and that’s where you can start to rebuild your happiness.
        xo

        Liked by 1 person

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