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Is forgiveness possible?

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dab110 posted 5/29/2013 19:42 PM

I can't believe that I am almost three years out from D-day. During this time, I have found an amazing source of strength and wisdom from all of the posts. I don't post that often, but I lurk a lot.

I really need to tap into some wisdom now. How do you even begin to forgive your WS? My H had an 8 month long PA with a co-worker. They "dated" while at work, and did the sexual stuff before or after hours in the office (gross) or in the car (grosser). They had a weekly "date" to do lunch together (at work). They never met outside of work. (She was engaged to another man.) After a "lovely" day of romping with the work girlfriend, my husband would come home to me and our kids.

He is now remorseful, loving, all of it. He has shown remorse and gives constant support and love. And yet here I am, on various meds for anxiety and depression, still having nightmares (how someone I never met could be in my dreams, I'll never know). I have little to no self-esteem and cry myself to sleep at least twice a week (down from every night).

How in the world do I forgive the person who did this to me? And how can I stay in a M with someone that I don't forgive?

doesitgetbetter posted 5/29/2013 19:49 PM

Dab, what have you done to work on yourself through this? 3 years out is a long time to be stuck in such pain. Maybe it truly was a dealbreaker for you and it's nearing time to accept that? I don't know.

I forgave my H at 2.5 years out. I processed through all I needed to know, I asked all the questions I needed half a million times until I believed them and really accepted them to be truth. I did IC, MC, weekend retreats, I read books not only about infidelity but about healing myself. I read so many definitions of what forgiveness really was, religious and non religious. I read books about it, cried about it, thought about it, and all sorts of things. I realized I had to forgive him for myself, not for him. Holding onto my anger and hatred towards him for his actions was not healthy for ME, and that made me not healthy for my kids. I had to forgive him for myself, and for my children. Even if we divorced, I couldn't let myself be that bitter and angry and hurt because I knew I would say evil vile things about him and inevitably one of our kids would hear it. I didn't want to be that mother, I had a mother like that and it was awful!

What have you done, and do you do, for your own healing?

dab110 posted 5/29/2013 20:02 PM

I have read books, (read endless hours of SI, too), went to IC and MC. Thought about it, prayed about it, cried about it (still do all of those things!). We have talked about all of it, and he has answered all of my questions a million times. I know he feels terrible for what he has done.

I don't know what else to do. Is this how you know that it is dealbreaker?

crazyblindsided posted 5/29/2013 23:24 PM


I'm sorry you are still hurting. I am still in pain at 15 months and still feel extreme anger and sadness about the A.

I honestly am going to have to leave the forgiveness part up to G-O-D because I do not have it in me to forgive my WH for everything he has done to me.

TrustGone posted 5/29/2013 23:39 PM

I don't think I can totally forgive my WH#2 for the LTA. Too much water under the bridge to expect forgiveness from me at this point. Maybe if he had been remorseful when DDay#1 happened instead of taking it underground for another year, I may have been able to forgive him eventually. Now I don't see that happening. I am learning to accept this marriage at face value only. I am too old to start a NB and have too much to lose this late in life to file for D. I just went through a nasty divorce 10yrs ago with XWH#1 and don't need that again right now. We get along OK and he is not cheating now as far as I know, but it has really taken a toll on our marriage and my love for him now. As far as I am concerned the only one I need to forgive is myself for being so trusting of someone after the hell I went through in my first marriage. I also need to forgive myself for being too weak at this point to kick him to the curb. But forgive him for all he did to me...Not happening.

still-living posted 5/30/2013 02:44 AM

Sorry you are still hurting.

A few suggestions:

1) How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To, by Janis A. Spring? Forgiving is for yourself.

2) Go back to IC, and/or try a different counselor.

3) Get a second opinion on the meds you are taking. It is my opinion that although meds can be a good short term solution to ease the intense pain in the beginning, eventually, you must wane from the meds in order to properly process the pain. New pain in our lives requires emotional growth to properly process the pain, and you emotionally growing is not something your husband can do for you, and the meds may be hindering your attempts.

dab110 posted 5/30/2013 07:12 AM

Thank you for all of the suggestions. I am considering going back to IC. It's a financial decision at this point too. As far as my meds, I was on them early on after D-day but then was off of them for a while. Then I started having panic attacks and chest pains. I was also feeling really sad again. After a lot of testing to rule out other causes, I went on meds which helped.

pandoraslight posted 5/30/2013 08:36 AM

Forgiving your WS is a personal choice. What he did to US was life changing, not in a good way! It has been many years for me and I still have not forgiven my WS. I miss that young carefree girl that loved him so much, before the A. The girl/woman that had dreams of us and our family. So many things were taken away, things that can never be returned...I have accepted what has happened at this point, but forgiveness is mine... I hope you can find peace.

so_lost posted 5/31/2013 13:43 PM

I'm totally with you dab110. I'm 8 years out and just recently feel like I'm close to forgiveness. What's worked for me?

Compassion. Trying to remember he feels dirty, ashamed, and disgusted by his actions. "At least you can hold your head up high," he once said to me.

Putting myself in his and even her shoes. I'm shocked the OW kept pursuing my H despite being treated like a whore. He never kissed her. He had sex with her in the back of her Jeep in the parking lot of a bar. He never climaxed. Really? She must've been pretty broken if THAT was okay. Not the stuff of true love or romance.

Realizing my love story with my H is far superior (to whatever they had) and has been all along. Ours never started out of deceit, lies, and selfishness.

I recently started IC as well.

I also try to tell myself 1) divorce doesn't look any better then my current situation, 2) I could get cheated on again by another man, and 3) fairytales and soul mates are the stuff of movies. Accepting that this happened to us is still hard.

It takes so much mental discipline to remind myself of all that I wrote above...but I'm trying.

[This message edited by so_lost at 2:41 PM, May 31st (Friday)]

tushnurse posted 5/31/2013 14:39 PM

Some people can some can't it's not something you do for him or your relationship it's for you. To give you peace. It was kind of the final piece in healing for me. I had to think long and hard why it was even important, and why I should/shouldn't.

I also read the books, also a few on Codependency and breaking that cycle. I did change I am a different person than I was prior to DDay. But I am stronger, and much more articulate when sharing my feelings.

I would also say that you seem down and stuck IC would be beneficial for you.

If you bottled up your stuff and didn't deal with it early on, you may be stuck, and need to really examine your feelings, and allow yourself to heal. I know when I would get hung up on what he did, I would remind myself of the person he was during the A, and he was not pleasant, and quite ugly in many ways. He is not that guy anymore. He makes me happy now. Focusing on the present helped me a lot.

IGaveItMyAll posted 5/31/2013 18:34 PM

Have you worked on acceptance at all? I was trying to work on forgiveness but found how can I forgive something I can't accept. I have been working on accepting it happened, accepting that a person I love chose to do this to themselves and their decision almost killed me. Acceptance is a hard thing. I Definitely suggest working on yourself more. It makes a huge difference in this battle. Finding yourself again is tough. Something I work on everyday (more like building a new me)

scissorhands posted 5/31/2013 21:24 PM

I struggle with what my husband did.
However when I first discovered his online activities 2 days before our wedding anniversary, I knew instantly that I would not allow myself to become bitter and sour over it. I forgive him but it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt or still make me sad and grieve for what we lost.
The sadness of losing the person YOU thought you married is overwhelming but I think its easier to forgive.

Forgiveness is a choice we make, in the same way we can choose to be happy in life and content.

Forgiveness is one thing you can control.

[This message edited by scissorhands at 9:27 PM, May 31st (Friday)]

NoraLee posted 5/31/2013 21:39 PM

I think you need to define forgiveness first. What does it look like? What does it feel like? It's a word we have used all our lives - yet defining it is not so simple.

If forgiveness means "forgetting" and moving on - it'll never happen. My H defines forgiveness this way. That's why he struggles to accept my forgiveness.

I define it differently. In my mind, it's letting go of resentment, no longer wanting revenge or justice, accepting a new beginning and a new normal. Yet I will never forget it...I will still feel the ache when I think of it... I haven't decided if it means I no longer feel the anger...I'm inclined to say Yes...but maybe that's because I have forgiven and haven't felt anger in awhile (lol - well, 2 weeks with no anger and I formally forgave my H last long for me anyway...)

atsenaotie posted 5/31/2013 21:53 PM

Hi dab,

How do you even begin to forgive your WS?

I dunno, for me I got to accepting what happened, and then deciding I was OK with who FWW was and was working to be going forward.

I really believe that her A's were not about me, they were about her and her issues. I also belive there was nothing special about any of her OM other than they were available and equally broken internally. This too helped when I got to this point.

While FWW was working on her stuff, I kind of detached, and worked on me and my life. This may be a path for you. Stop looking to forgive your WS, or even love him. Instead work to create a life (independant of him) that you like for yourself.

It may be that his A was a dealbreaker for you. While you decide, take my advice to work on you and take some focus off of your WS and M. See if you can refill your self-esteem. See if you can have a life where you are looking forward to something the next day, a class, an outing with friends, volunteer work, rather than crying to sleep.

Ladyogilvy posted 5/31/2013 22:32 PM

The best book I've read about forgiveness is "How Can I Forgive You."

Laura28 posted 6/1/2013 00:02 AM

Hi dab

I am only a few days past 3 years so i really can relate.

Stop looking to forgive your WS, or even love him.

See if you can have a life where you are looking forward to something

This is great advice from ats.

In my case it wasn't until I stopped hoping to have the dream M, started accepting what happened and gave myself permission NOT to forgive him or love him again, that I started to feel better.

I'm still struggling with a few things but these I believe are the key.

Often reading on SI I get the impression that some have moved on from the infidelity into an entirely NEW M and love everything about it.

For others it is a question of whether we want to settle for what we now have. Many say that we should not be prepared to settle but I am not so sure. Sometimes I wonder if refusing to accept anything except a perfect new M is cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

Let's face it. There are many less than idyllic Ms out there that haven't been hit by infidelity but in which both choose to stay because it is their "path of least regret". They accept their partner "Warts and all" for whatever reason.

My FWH is like yours. Attentive, affectionate, faithful (I think), doing most of it right (except talking about it which is what I need). He is a far better H now than he ever was before. Sure there are some things that still piss me off but he is much better than most. So I can kick him to the curb and be alone or go looking for a replacement. I could find one I think. But at this time that is not what I want.

The other thing to remember is that you are not stuck. You can get up and leave whenever you want to. 5 years, 10 years down the track. Whenever you want to. You have a free pass. I found this thought liberating.

There are great Rs out there, some poor ones and everything in between. Like ours.

I actually think that for some R may simply mean acceptance.

Perhaps this is what you need. JMHO.



njgal480 posted 6/1/2013 03:22 AM

Acceptance was the turning point for me.

My FWH had a 5 yr LTA. It was a shock and a trauma for me to find out about it.

The level of betrayal was stunning.

I kicked him out after d-day and we were separated for 6 months.

I decided to try to reconcile when I saw true remorse from him and a real commitment to make positive changes in himself.

I forgave him on some level at that point in our R.

But, in some ways, I still had not accepted that the infidelity had happened.

It's hard to describe but for years after d-day I would still wake up at times in the middle of the night or have a thought during the day and say- "I can't believe he did that."

I would then have PTSD symptoms,a panicky feeling,difficulty breathing -the works.

For me, finding out about the infidelity was a traumatic experience.

Going to IC helped a lot.

I also needed meds for anxiety and depression for awhile.

Just recognizing that I was traumatized and dealing with it as a trauma was helpful for me.

One book that deals with this is: Transcending Post Infidelity Stress Disorder by Dr. Ortman.

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