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Dawning posted 12/31/2020 09:11 AM

It has been years since I have come to this site; however, a question was asked to me recently and it made me think of this site and I wanted to hear your comments.

I rarely think about my ex. My children are now grown. They are now 23 and 20 years old and were 6 and 3 when his affair started (possibly younger). We have been divorced for over 13 years.

I was asked recently if I have forgiven him. I have thought about it and I have not forgiven him.

What he did to me; the children; our family was devastating at the time and it has had lasting effects on the children. I have moved on and am happy and content with my life. I do not miss him or the life we had.

I am stuck on this question though - why do I need to say I forgive him?

Any comments or insight on forgiveness is appreciated.

Chrysalis123 posted 12/31/2020 09:26 AM

I have moved on and am happy and content with my life. I do not miss him or the life we had.

I am stuck on this question though - why do I need to say I forgive him?

In my opinion, to be disconnected from the situation like you are is a type of forgiveness. He is nothing to you anymore, other than a person you used to know. You are spending zero time ruminating, feeling hurt or angry. You are not plotting revenge. You have healed and moved past the trauma.

To me you are demonstrating forgiveness. The act of saying, "I forgive you" is irrelevant in my opinion.

I think you are extremely wise to never FORGET though. He is not a safe person and he showed his true colors over and over. I think many people confuse "not forgetting" with "not forgiving".

Think of a mean dog. Every time you walk by it bites you. So you decide to change your route and never walk by that dog again. You move on with your life but never forget to stay away from that dog. The dog is now a non-issue.

So, you handled the dog in a mature manner. Do you need to say, "I forgive the dog?" Or does your behavior show wisdom and acceptance of the situation.

Catwoman posted 12/31/2020 09:38 AM

why do I need to say I forgive him?

You don't.

If you don't forgive him, but accept what has happened and have gone on with your productive life, that's really all you need to do.

People say you have to forgive to move on. I don't believe that.

Janis Abrams Spring touches on forgiveness in her book After the Affair. She talks about cheap forgiveness, which is "forgiveness" with no atonement or apology from the forgivee and no changed behavior from the forgivee as well. I think that makes a lot of sense.

I have not forgiven my ex, and I'm unlikely to unless he can demonstrate he is a changed person and has learned and grown from what he has done. I see that happening right around the time when pigs start flying. Because his behavior hasn't changed and because he has not even owned up to his major role in basically using me for decades, I don't see I need to forgive him.

I've accepted what has happened and I've moved on. I have my own life, which does not include him, and I haven't spoken to him or interacted with him in nearly 5 years (his choice).

I don't know what "forgiveness" would change about this.


Wanttobebetter posted 12/31/2020 09:38 AM

I guess some people need to forgive before moving on. If you truly moved on and content as you put it, why force yourself to forgive? You will know when you are ready to forgive. My $.02

skeetermooch posted 12/31/2020 09:45 AM

This notion of forgiveness is overrated. I agree with letting go of the pain, processing anger and moving into acceptance/indifference - certainly all completely necessary to our healing and happiness. But do you forgive the dog that bit you as Chrysalis described? When you use that metaphor it almost seems silly - forgive something or someone for acting according to its nature?!

Our cheating exes acted according to their nature, even if we weren't aware of what their nature was when we entered into these marriages. I forgive my ex - he did what he does. It was never about me. For sure, I don't like him and I don't want to be around him. I suppose the larger thing to forgive is God or the universe. I'm angry because this particular flavor of suffering was visited upon me. I'm angry that I was foolish enough to feel safe in my marriage. Maybe I also need to forgive myself. Forgiving him isn't in the equation.

Butforthegrace posted 12/31/2020 09:52 AM

Your post invokes an esoteric discussion on the meaning of "forgive". For many, including me, it simply means the end of a desire for revenge. It does NOT mean "forget", nor does it mean that things like trust, affection, or love can or should be restored.

If that is the definition, it sounds like you have forgiven. I think the hallmark of forgiveness is indifference, which it sounds like you have achieved.

DevastatedDee posted 12/31/2020 10:00 AM

I don't even know what it would mean to forgive all that drama. It seems like some weird nebulous concept that just makes no sense in that scenario. Like a mind game that you play with yourself for some reason? If you leave them and create a new life without them, I don't even know what it matters. I accept the reality that a man screwed me over in half a dozen ways and that I left and moved on with my life in response. I'm happy, pretty content, no wallowing in despair or anger. What magical thing was supposed to happen if I "forgave"? The further away you get from a toxic ex emotionally the better off you are and that's really 99.9% of it. Time and distance. Maybe forgiveness is more important if you reconcile because you do have to see their faces every day then.

I see forgiveness as in I forgave my son for being irresponsible and wrecking my car twice in one week. I forgave my daughter for acting like a teenager in various ways. I forgave them both all of their childhood tantrums.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 10:04 AM, December 31st (Thursday)]

Phoenix1 posted 12/31/2020 10:27 AM

The issue of forgiveness pops up fairly frequently here. It really boils down to the individual. Some feel they need to formally forgive as part of their own healing. Others, as illustrated above, do not. Forgiving certainly does not equate to forgetting.

For me, personally, I will never forgive his two decades of betrayal. That is an unforgivable act in my world. That does not mean I am holding on to anger, bitterness, or a need for revenge. Holding onto those feelings are not healthy (mentally or physically) and will stifle healing. Instead of forgiveness, the better goal was acceptance. Acceptance of what he did, who he is, and my poor decision to choose him as my children's father. Those are all tied to things I cannot change. Letting go of things you cannot change leads to acceptance. I liken acceptance to a type of personal zen. I'm at peace with accepting without the need to forgive.

Do what works for you, not what others think you need to do.

siracha posted 12/31/2020 11:40 AM

I personally think someone has to do something worthy of forgiveness . It doesnt make sense from a justice POV to give someone forgiveness as a reward for continued bad behavior
Your job to protect yourself is just to get over the bitterness and anger enough so it hasnt trapped you into a cage ;aside from that i do not feel you are obligated to do anything

crazyblindsided posted 12/31/2020 13:49 PM

I don't think I'm close to forgiveness or accepting of my situation. I'm still very much upset that this happened and that 24 years of my life were a lie.

I do feel indifferent towards him and I definitely would not want to be with him again no matter what work he does on himself. Too much happened, too much abuse and I'm pretty damaged from it all. I guess I'm still angry that I allowed myself to be treated that way for so long. Angry that my childhood set me up for this. Angry that I feel like I'm being punished for only being able to see my kids 50% of the time.

I really need to work on forgiving myself because I tend to turn inward on myself and that's not fair. I have to let go of blaming myself.

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 1:51 PM, December 31st (Thursday)]

EllieKMAS posted 12/31/2020 13:58 PM

My dad was a narcissist. I had a relationship with him until I was 25, but I ultimately cut ties with him because he was very mentally and emotionally abusive and I finally said when.

I struggled for years with the notion that I *had* to forgive him. How do I do that?

8 years after I ended my relationship with him, I woke up really early one Thursday morning (which is very unlike me - I'm a sleeper). I got up and had like 2 hours before I needed to get ready for work. I made my coffee and turned on the tv and Bob Ross was on. I looooove Bob Ross. So I was happily watching and drinkin my coffee and it just hit me all of a sudden that I had forgiven my father. Just like that. I hadn't forgotten, but I had forgiven him. I don't want a relationship with him, but I sincerely wish him well. Forgiveness was a state of grace I reached in myself and it took as long as it took to get there. And getting there wasn't announced with trumpets and pomp, it was very quiet.

You don't have to forgive to move forward. But I do believe that in moving forward and growing and changing that forgiveness does generally come eventually. And that is for YOU, not for them. Don't worry if you haven't yet - just keep moving forward and eventually you will.

siracha posted 12/31/2020 16:17 PM

Shitty parenting is usually the gift that keeps on giving - kudos to you for standing up for yourself.

EllieKMAS posted 12/31/2020 16:44 PM

Well Sriracha, turns out the gift did keep giving - turns out I married one just like my dad. Tho I still am not quite sure how dafuq that happened But I got the point this time... won't make that mistake again!

Ratpicker posted 12/31/2020 16:57 PM

I think that I think... (still formulating) that one must give serious consideration to GRANTING forgiveness to someone who sincerely ASKS for forgiveness.

If someone does acknowledge the damage they caused, the wrongs they committed etc. AND if then they ask for forgiveness, it is appropriate to consider granting it. Without the effort of attonement or at least acknowledgement it is just cheap forgiveness (unsatisfying).

However for your own peace, you can get to the point of acceptance. And furthermore you can get to the point (for yourself) that you RELEASE the hurt that was done to you and those that you love.

And I believe that it is necessary for your own preservation to never forget the damage done, lest you slip into old habits of tolerance to the unhealthy damage.

All of the magic words have different definitions to the individual.

Shehawk posted 12/31/2020 19:50 PM

I am in agreement with Phoenix.

To me forgiveness is given to those who are sorry and atone.

As an example, if the cheating ex was sorry he would have told the truth, walked away from the people places and things associated with the affair, and made sure I was taken care of while I healed/that he fixed what he could fix if what he had done and who he had hurt.

Kind of like if he dropped a rock on someone because he was careless or selfish and it broke someone's leg. And the person lost their job. Then their house. Would people really say for the person with the broken leg to just forgive while the first person kept rolling rocks towards them?

Or.. Does the rock dropper have an obligation to keep the other person's mortgage paid and help them heal.

Don't be bitter just forgive brainwashing caused me to not protect myself from a spouse turned enemy who risked my life with unprotected rough sex with strangers and caused me to be bullied by his affair co-conspirators to the point that I almost lost my life to suicide.

I don't go around thinking about any of them much anymore. But forgiveness is a gift I extend to those who are repentant.

Shehawk posted 12/31/2020 19:52 PM

PS What business is it of someone else whether you have forgiven them or not?

Would people tell you to just forgive if your wayward ex hit you in the face?

EllieKMAS posted 12/31/2020 20:56 PM

PS What business is it of someone else whether you have forgiven them or not?
Ding ding ding! Totally agree with this. Forgiveness (to me) had little or nothing to do with the offending party. It's for me, not for them.

messyleslie posted 12/31/2020 23:28 PM

I read a book called The Cure (Christian based but if you lean that way itís a really good one) and they describe it as vertical and horizontal forgiveness.

You can do vertical forgiveness without the other party. Itís between you snd God. Thatís when you accept what had happened and give up the need to dole out consequences. They put it as you accept Gods justice for their actions and stop trying to punish them yourself. So this to me is the indifference - you donít feel that red hot anger and donít want revenge.

Horizontal forgiveness is between you and the other party and should only happen after they have atoned fully. They actually say if you give horizontal forgiveness before they have done the work than you are robbing that person of an opportunity to earn it. Like you remove the guilt that they should be carrying until they try to atone for what they did.

That helped me. I always thought about it being some magic state where it doesnít hurt anymore and you fully forgive the person. But I realized for me forgiveness can be that I have given it over to God and I still donít feel like my ex has earned my forgiveness and it still hurts. Itís an ache that I know I can live with but it still hurts.

Marz posted 1/1/2021 19:41 PM

To me forgiveness is when you reach a point/place where they no longer matter anymore.

Sounds to me like youíre already there.

src9043 posted 1/2/2021 18:18 PM

My exWW reminded me recently why she is unworthy of forgiveness. Having been a serial cheater during our 10-year marriage, she continues to bad mouth me 35 years later. We still have limited contact due to our son and grandchildren. Her behavior has recently come to my attention and is extremely unwarranted. Rather than forgive, I am enraged and will take all appropriate steps to mitigate her lies. She has always been a POS. I am convinced it will never end until we pass on. If there is life after death, I expect she will continue with her horseshit whatever form we take.

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