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Wondering about self forgiveness

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Reallymessedup posted 1/22/2014 19:24 PM

First post here. Probably way too long before taking this step, but here goes.

A bit of backstory. Married 26 1/2 years before A. Relationship of 28 1/2 years. A with much younger (21 yrs) co-worker. 2 1/2 + years past DDay and still struggling with R. Of course my fault, but I'm trying. No where near good enough, but I am trying and sincerely want to.

I've seen on many WS threads the theme of self forgiveness. I need help with that concept. Many posts talk about forgiving yourself or you cannot move forward and R. I just don't get that. Maybe someone can explain how self forgiveness is not saying it was ok. I just don't know how to differentiate the two. I don't think I can ever forgive myself for the horrible treatment of my BS and family. Not just because I don't think my actions can be forgiven but that I view that as telling myself it was really ok.

So my question is, why do I need to forgive myself to help R?

iAmAMess0809 posted 1/22/2014 21:11 PM

I don't think that forgiveness is the same as saying it is okay. It's not okay that my 4 year old daughter learned the word 'idiot' from another kid at school and called me that name, but I forgave her when she said she was sorry. Granted, that's a different scale, but it's the same concept.

I'm nowhere near self-forgiveness. My actions haunt me, and I don't know that I can forgive myself before my BW does, if she ever does. But I suspect it is very important for me to forgive myself...some day.

I don't have any great advice here. Just wanted to say that I don't think they are the same thing.

HUFI-PUFI posted 1/22/2014 21:29 PM

Reallymessedup - Many posts talk about forgiving yourself or you cannot move forward and R. I just don't get that.

I think that at a certain level, you have to reach a degree of self-forgiveness in order to move beyond the guilt and shame of the affair. If you get trapped in the shame spiral, it can hinder your ability to become emotionally available to your spouse. After all, if you are still beating yourself up for being so stupid as to have the affair, then you are not able to invest 100% of your emotions into R.

I'm not talking about achieving total self-forgiveness even. I'm merely saying you have to be able to reach a certain level of acceptance that your actions were done by a broken person and that at a certain level, you are not the same broken person anymore. If you are working at healing yourself and your marriage, even if they are only baby steps, then recognizing that achievement will let you start building up some self-esteem again. This helps break the shame spiral.

Note that we are talking about forgiveness and not forgetting. And we're talking about self-forgiveness and not being forgiven by our BS.

Reallymessedup Maybe someone can explain how self forgiveness is not saying it was ok. I just don't know how to differentiate the two.

Self-forgiveness is not saying that the affair was ok. Its not an excuse or justification or even a rationale. Self-forgiveness, IMHO, is the process in which you talk to your inner self in the same manner in which you talk to a small child.

In fact, to a certain extent, the brokenness inside the WS is a result of circumstances and issues that affected the WS as a child. Not only abuse or things of that nature but also FOO issues such as abandonment and self-esteem issues etc. Perhaps if our emotional needs as children/young adults had been properly addressed in our pasts, then our futures might have been quite different. Self-forgiveness is a way that we can address those early hurts and heal in a healthy manner.

As a illustration of this process, imagine if if a young child made a mistake. Instead of screaming or hitting the child, a caring adult would first of all sooth and acknowledge the hurt, they would stress that this is a part of natural life and that is does not reflect on the child's worthiness. In the same approach, self-forgiveness is telling yourself the same things so to speak.

Acknowledge that you were responsible. Accept that there will be consequences to this action. Be caring and kind to those that are hurt and that includes yourself. After all, a remorseful WS will have suffered quite a loss of integrity and honour and self-respect. You have to come to acceptance of these things. Accept and embrace the guilt and shame and then let it move beyond.

I think that if you can't get to here at least on the surface level, then you will find it very hard to stop reliving the shame and guilt.


Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves - Henry David Thoreau

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