Q: How do real and false forgiveness differ?
A: Forgiving is hard work. It takes time, and involves pain. It's not just a simple declaration or automatic, reflexive action. False forgiveness is going through the motions without anything changing on the inside. It's lip service, and it actually interferes with authentic resolution and estranges people from their real feelings.
Forgiveness should be a capacity to be exercised when the situation warrants it, not a compulsion to be applied indiscriminantly. And no one--including a parent, a mental health professional or a member of the clergy--has the right to dictate how a betrayal should be resolved. Unfortunately, most therapists have been brainwashed to believe that forgiveness is the only correct solution, and naturally they encourage their patients to do it, out of genuine, if misplaced, concern for their mental health.
Q: What should therapists be doing?
A: They should help their patients come to terms with the past in whatever way is right for the individual. Often, people need permission not to forgive. Pushing an agenda of automatic absolution leads many to secret despair.
Therapy should teach people to think for themselves.
I do not waste time "trying" to forgive someone. In time, I have found that I eventually do forgive the person or, at the very least, have total indifference to them and what they did to harm me.
This has worked well for me. It is rather tiresome to have people constantly telling you "you must forgive". That it is somehow harming me to not forgive. Uuummm, no it isn't. I didn't notice any "harm" to myself. In fact, quite the opposite. It gave me time to get myself healthy. To process without having the burden of "having" to forgive someone.
"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson
Does that mean I am all bent out of shape and an forever broken because I will not forgive? Hell no! I ACCEPTED what happened and I have helped my DD heal and I have also healed myself. I really do not care what X does or does not do. He takes up no mind space just because I did not "forgive" him.
Sorry, I do not buy into that whole "You must forgive to begin to heal" crap. You do have to accept it and accept any role your played and accept that part that you had no control over.
But for me, forgiveness means absolution and only God can do that. I guess that is the latent Catholic in me, or at least what I gleaned from the religion before I rejected all religion.
The acceptance part- oh so much harder.
[This message edited by rachelc at 8:37 PM, February 19th (Wednesday)]
me (WW/BS): 48
4 kiddos in mid 20's
The conditions we face do not define us. They remind us of who we are and who we want to be.
I began saying, "I forgive you, XXX and release you to the Holy Spirit." I'm not religious. I did it to free myself because I was just obsessing and couldn't get past it.
I've accepted that my marriage is not fixable. I've accepted that he is not someone I want to be with. I've accepted that I want to move forward with my life and I don't want to dwell on it anymore. I did it for me, not for him.
Part of the reason I was able to do this is I don't have to see him, I don't have children with him and he's not in my face every week. I think it's a lot harder when you have to interact with these idiots on a daily basis. I understand how difficult it is because I was right there a few weeks ago. But honestly, since I released it, I just don't give a fuck what happens to him. It's over, it's done.
It does me no good to spend the rest of my life saying "You fucked me over and I'll never forget it!" I say, "You fucked me over, and I don't even care enough about you to have it affect me or my life." If that makes any sense.
EDIT: I wanted to edit this to say, that my situation is final. I'm not in a situation where my marriage may be fixable or R is possible. So maybe my response isn't really applicable here. I just wanted to say that I did it, and it gave me peace. I doesn't condone what he did, but my life is too precious to waste another second on his betrayal. I've got a limited amount of sunrises on this rock, I want them to be happy. I hope I didn't come off too preachy. :)
[This message edited by Lola7 at 9:47 PM, February 19th (Wednesday)]
Definitely feels freeing to know you can stay indecisive on the issue even, and still move forward. For now I can choose to not forgive if it serves me. Maybe later I can forgive and release it. Maybe not.
I released all anger at my first husband. Never forgave but let it go.
I've always felt that forgiveness given too quickly minimizes the betrayal. Infidelity is so huge, so devastating... I feel like if I could just say "I forgive him" quickly and easily, then its almost like the marriage meant as little to me as it did to him. It would be like having a loved one die, and skipping the grieving, and going straight to yes, so-and-so passed away, but I'm over it.
I don't know it that makes any sense, but I'm not sure how else to explain it. I just felt that my marriage deserved to be mourned, it deserved to be honored even as it died, and part of doing that meant holding onto the anger I had for XWH/OW and definitely withholding anything that looked like forgiveness.
Now I'm in a different phase of the process. "Forgiveness" isn't quite the word for it, "acceptance" isn't really it either. It's a better place than where I was, but it's not the end of the journey either. I still have healing to do. In my situation, there is no R. He's off living his life with OW, and couldn't care less whether I've forgiven him or not. That's something to think about too. IMO, forgiveness that is sought and asked for is different than forgiveness that is done internally, just for and by the person who was betrayed.
I will never, ever condone, understand or even accept what XWH did to me. If that is what you (meaning anyone) define as forgiveness, then I'll never get there.
What I have done is reached a place where what he did no longer holds any power over me. I still have moments when I can't quite believe this is my life, but the A and the D do not define me, my life, or my worth as a person. They only define HIM. I couldn't care less what happens to him anymore. I don't wish him good or bad. I just feel sorry for him.
The forgiveness I'm struggling with now is for myself. For not seeing who he was and what he was sooner. For letting myself be so utterly used and financially ruined. For not seeing all the red flags that are now so clear in hindsight. Forgiveness for myself is what I need to find, and it's a lot harder than finding it for someone else.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. ~ Anais Nin
Fortunately, my IC understood that I would never forgive, I have no guilt about that, I do not stress over it. Period. Some things are just too huge to forgive and infidelity tops the list.
She suggested a book on forgiveness but that's it.
I have a very remorseful WH. There is nothing he can do to gain forgiveness. He gets it. However. This does not mean that we cannot move forward and rebuild a M destroyed by such horrendous behavior.
The truth hurts, but I have never seen it cause the pain that lies do.
In the beginning, on DD1. I was quick to say forgive. I think I didn't really grasp what it truly meant. I've never been a grudge holder so I kind of linked it together I guess. My IC is the one who said, has he earned forgiveness? I guess she thought I was handing it out pretty easily. I now know, it may take awhile to forgive. I wish no harm on him, I don't hate him but I don't think I'm ready to forgive him. I will one day. It's not eating me up inside and I'm not setting out for revenge but until he fully understands what he's done to me, I'll just wait for the F word.
Both feet pointed forward; positive
Forgiveness doesn't mean what he did is OK. It just means I'm done with it. He blew everything up with C4 and there's no pieces remaining to even attempt to fix it, even if I wanted to.
I just handed him and his shit decisions over to God and basically turned around and walked away. No waving, no good luck. I just handed it over and walked away. It just feels better to get rid of it. Everybody has to do what's right for them. :)
Good topic btw, thanks Spelljean!