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Forgive and forget. Another societal lie.

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blakesteele posted 6/28/2014 06:50 AM

Forgive and forget. How many times has this been said.

I have come into some new-to-me wisdoms this past 23 months. As I study what wisdom is it has occurred to me that "forgive and forget" is a misleading phrase.

Wisdom is gained in several ways....unfortunately, I often gain wisdom the most painful way; through stumbling in life.

stumbles hurt.

I stumbled hard in into stupid consumer debt (credit cards and a car loan). I had cards cancelled and debtors calling me for their money.

Wisdom is two fold. The intellectual knowledge needed to make better decisions and the courage to make those decisions.

I gained intellectual knowledge that I would not have debt trouble if I didn't borrow money. I then needed to make the actual choice to live on a cash-only basis....and that was not easy! I had to budget and work more hours (or I had to reduce my lifestyle).

When I would be tempted to borrow money I would have to go to my memory, remember how dreadful that decision had been in my life, and then use that memory to motivate me to choose differently. WISDOM!

I have seen couples at weekend retreats who, 20-40 years later, still have strong feelings as they talk about their time in the spots we find ourselves today. They did not forget. But don't get that confused with being unhealthy. It is a gift of having a memory.

"We do the best we can with the knowledge we have. Then when we know better, we can do better."--Maya Angelou

How do we decide if we know better? One way is by taking current sitches and choices and relating it back to our prior experience. Can you imagine if we LACKED this ability? How many times would we get burned? How much debt would I be in right now?

If you desire real appears to me you MUST remember your past experiences.

Just a thought I had in my head when I woke up....usually they are worth me pondering.

Thanks for reading.

God is with us all

blakesteele posted 6/28/2014 07:00 AM

....and the reason I believe I am pondering this is because I put in for a promotion at work.

As I went through the interview process, I reflected on my diverse career. As par for the course, some questions pertained to when I stumbled in my career.

I reflected 16 years ago.....I was charged with implementing sweeping changes to a long standing process. I did the best I could but my implementation of those changes drove a long-time employee to early retirement.

As I pondered my actions I felt sad all over again. Not stuck in the past sad...but sad on a humbling level. My memory was reminding me that, along with my quality traits as a leader I have the ability to stumble and hurt others. I have grown from that painful experience and have chosen better.

I encourage those who read this thread to NOT forget what their choices and the choices of their spouses resulted in. Both the good and the bad results.

If you try to forget past pains....the likely result is hidden resentment and depression (which is anger turned inward).

Feelings are always buried alive and require daily feeding.

Those couples who still had strong feelings 20-40 years later? I believe one of the primary reasons their marriage R after adultery and why they or their spouse are NOT in a mental institution or suicidal is that they REMEMBER what they have forgiven. They honor that experience but don't use it as a tool to beat the offending party up with.

I am learning to do this. I am working on doing this with my wife....but I am also working on doing this with myself. I offended myself 30 years ago when I chose to deny my feelings and avoid the real pain I was in. Dreadfully destructive choice. I am working on forgiving myself....but am not going to forget this. I worked to hard to give up the wisdom remembering offers me.


KatieG posted 6/28/2014 07:05 AM

blakesteele, I read your posts with interest and I hear your struggle. I have a few snippets and quotes I refer back to sometimes to remind me that life isn't easy or fixed and we have to guide ourselves. Your post reminded me of this snippet (not my words but I get it):

Believing something is not an accomplishment. I grew up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they’re really
nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because “strength of belief” is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself.

As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you’ve made it a part of your ego.

It is gratifying to speak forcefully, it is gratifying to be agreed with, and this high is what the die-hards are chasing. Wherever there is a belief, there is a closed door. Take on the beliefs that stand up to your most honest,
humble scrutiny, and never be afraid to lose them.

blakesteele posted 6/28/2014 07:05 AM

Wisdom--Looking at life objectively, handling life with stability.

If I tried to forget this painful experience...I would bury it alive. It would move underground beneath me and cause shifting to occur. When shifting occurs underneath you your foundation moves....very unstable situation.

I am thinking now that the "unstableness" I felt within me for decades is because I did this very thing....I denied and ignored my feelings and pain...I buried it. Coping mechs were my shovels that piled dirt on them. No amount of dirt was going to stablize me. I had to unearth that which was moving and get rid of it...then I could backfill with solid substances (healthy choices that process and acknowledge all that I experience).

I am enjoying the stability of this new way of processing life.

Had no idea I was so uneasy before.....even my sleep is returning to somewhat normal.

Irregular sleep was the norm for the past 5-9 years....well before my wifes actual affair.


blakesteele posted 6/28/2014 07:12 AM

Thanks KatieG.

I enjoyed the quotes.

If I understand them correctly they caution of too much pride. If you so firmly believe you know more than you do, you effectively limit your own potential....your own growth....right?

For 30 years I did hold tight to my beliefs surrounding my use of porn. I didn't think I was lying, "believed" this was a truth....but if I get what you are wasn't a truth either?

Hmmmm wish this were a group discussioin at a coffee house.

I think I see where you are going. I am seeking truth...and that has spurned a spiritual journey within me. As I walk with God, His way is the way I am to do life, do do relationships, to do marriage. He calls us to forgive...and forgive often. He does not instruct us to forget. In fact, He desires us to remember so that we don't repeat the same destructive choices. The bible is full of reminders from God on what happens when we don't do as He says. Full of stories of miracles performed...but then those same people slowly forget and then start relying on themselves again.

It appears to me that is why God chooses to not perform miracles with every prayer for them. He has seen they are ineffective to real change. Kind of like if I just give one of our daughters a car. They are less likely to appreciate it once they own it.

Thats the power of wisdom as gleaned by "my" method. I worked hard...painfully hard to acquire it. It will not be easily lost or left idle. But I will stumble again....ego and pride are a part of me too, as are fleshly desires. Dang that "free will" gift!!!!

Grace = truth draped in love.

As we remember this painful time in our lives we are to express that memory with grace. If we are successful at R our marriage into something new....both my wife and I have to keep "grace" as part of our union forevermore. It is what God would have us do.


[This message edited by blakesteele at 7:40 AM, June 28th (Saturday)]

KatieG posted 6/28/2014 07:19 AM

Yes that's my understanding. I have been guilty of searching for truths, rules or beliefs all my life. This quote reminds me that things aren't fixed and the only truth is my truth and I need to listen to my own peace (when I get it).

blakesteele posted 6/28/2014 07:20 AM

Cool...thanks KatieG!


jjct posted 6/28/2014 07:28 AM

Hey blake! Enjoy your insights. Well done as usual.

Know what?

"Experience" is that thing you get - right after you need it...

blakesteele posted 6/28/2014 08:17 AM

(((jjct))). 😆😄😆😄😃

Thanks for the laugh, brother!


20WrongsVs1 posted 6/28/2014 09:03 AM

When we first moved to The South, a sign outside a "buy here pay here" used car shop struck me as funny.

Jesus Saves

We Finance

Forgiveness is such a loaded word. Christians believe God forgives, and Jesus's sacrifice absolves us of our sins, washes us clean as a newborn lamb.

Forgive and forget (equals) Relive and regret
(whose tagline is that?)

Acceptance is what I'm going for. Not forgiveness in the "forgive and forget" sense I think our society commonly defines it.

[This message edited by 20WrongsVs1 at 9:05 AM, June 28th, 2014 (Saturday)]

blakesteele posted 6/28/2014 10:16 AM

Love that sign!

Ironic that they use a biblical message to push an unbiblical way of living.

That sign captures some of American society today.....

"You deserve NOW! Get your new car today!"--instant gratification (play now, pay later ....sound familiar to anyone?)

"It's not my fault I don't have cash for a car"--lack of accountability. (It's not my fault, I just fell out if love with my spouse, married the wrong person....blah blah blah)

"Everyone does it, God wants me to be happy".---false belief that binds you.

The slave is borrower to the lender.

Sin is bondage. It is debt that needs paid off.


AML04 posted 6/28/2014 10:49 AM

If you try to forget past pains....the likely result is hidden resentment and depression (which is anger turned inward).

Feelings are always buried alive and require daily feeding.

This jumped out at me! I don't want to live with anger and resentment!!

peoplepleaser posted 6/28/2014 11:35 AM

I believe in forgiveness, but I conceptualize it much the same as the pp who said they are striving for acceptance. Forgiveness to me is merely recognizing that the infringement was "set up" to occur, and if the transgressor was capable of making a better choice they would have. This isn't an excuse for what happened, rather a way of keeping what happened in perspective. Of course my WS "should" have told me she was being contacted by my friend in secret. She didn't. Her context at the time, the misinformation and misperceptions she believed, her FOO issues, our recent relationship problems, my depression...all of it mixed together in this huge clusterf*&k that resulted in her making a choice that at that time seemed the best option for her. Without adjectives, judgment or my own feelings, that is exactly what happened. It sucks. It was very hurtful. She "should" have been more evolved, more self aware, more trusting...but could she have been? Obviously not, or she would have made a better choice.

Forgiveness goes beyond that for me, too. I have probably "forgiven" her in my heart, but not yet in the relationship. I cannot offer her that gift until I feel that she has humbled herself to the point of telling me everything that happened and risking the discomfort and conflict in a gesture toward the deeper emotional connection we both deserve in our relationship.

Forgetting is bullshit. I've always said that. Our memories are how we gain wisdom and experience. We are not wired to forget, which is why dementia and Alzheimer's disease are so devastating to us. We ARE our memories. We require mistakes to grow. The person who says they've forgotten should not be trusted, actually. Even if we don't consciously think about what has happened in our lives, every experience shapes how we later behave. It is our responsibility to determine if the experience will affect our behavior toward others negatively or positively.

Forgetting is the antithesis to learning and growing through this experience. I am recognizing the mistakes I made in the relationship and my own arrogance in the security I felt with the belief that this would never happen to me. I bit my own self in the ass by becoming complacent. I'm not the reason it happened, and I didn't deserve it, but it can't go unnoticed that I learned these things about myself. If I forget what happened, then I will forget the important lessons I gained from it.

Will I ever trust that way again? No. I'm coming to terms with that, because it was a nice feeling. I wanted it back for so long, but it was merely an unrealistic illusion. For a while I thought it a bad thing that I would never feel that way again, but now I see that it was silly. It's not that I've resigned myself to a station in life where I can't get that security, rather I'm recognizing that the level of security I felt was not appropriate for any relationship. We are not and never were completely safe from ruin. If we remember that then we treat each other with respect and compassion rather than relying on imagined bonds that will keep us together no matter what.

As I go through this (and I'm a Christian, too) I am realizing that my respect for Eastern philosophy is growing. It recognizes the dynamic nature of human relations, the need to live in the present, and the awesome power of accepting the things we cannot change. It focuses on letting people "be" who they are and trusting the information they give you.

"When you are depressed you are living in the past, when you are anxious you are living in the future, when you are joyful you are living in the present." --Lao Tzu

LostAngry posted 6/28/2014 13:12 PM

Forgive and forget. How many times has this been said.

I have come into some new-to-me wisdoms this past 23 months. As I study what wisdom is it has occurred to me that "forgive and forget" is a misleading phrase.

How right you are Blakesteele, God does not even forget.

Forgive and forget (equals) Relive and regret

Love that!

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