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Should I make an effort to forgive?(24 Posts)
Hello All - I was royally dumped several years ago, out of the blue by a DH who had up until that point been a great partner. We had a baby and I was pregnant....he had started a relationship with someone else, confessed and I kicked him out of our home and we divorced.
Cutting a very long story short, there were lots of terribly hard times for me. I've been a single mother ever since and held down a full time job, dealt with school, parenting, paid the bills etc etc while he pays maintenance and sees the children on a regular-ish basis he has no other input into their lives....he kind of washes his hands of them unless they are physically with him if you see what I mean? He goes on holiday without them while I would not contemplate doing that, he spends all his spare time and money on hobbies and socialising while I spend spare time and money on the DCS.
I still feel a great deal of hate towards him, although I now lead a relatively comfortable life and have gained great internal strength from knowing I've done this alone. My DCS are happy and doing well.
But I didn't choose to live a life this way. I resent the freedom he has, I resent that I was forced to buy him out of the house (for thousands of pounds) or face council housing waiting lists, I still resent and remember hundreds of uncaring, horrible,mean things he did and said after he placed me in a vulnerable position for no other reason than he'd decided he liked someone more than he liked me.
But this was a long time ago....sometimes I wonder if I would be happier if I forgave him. And I guess that's what I'm asking. Has anyone managed to do this? Forgive someone who did them a great injustice. I feel I suffered a trauma which I am still under the influence of and to forgive him means that it makes what he did ok.
But maybe my perspective is skewed?
Can anyone offer a different perspective that might reframe my view? Or maybe I don't need to reframe my view? What's wrong with continuing to hate him? Is that damaging me ultimately?
I think holding onto resentment even if it's justified harms us. I am speaking from a place of a person who is trying to forgive. I'm finding melody beatties stuff on codependency very helpful. I always saw co dependency as people who move from one relationship to another but there's so much more to it and in the book I'm reading it has loads on what you can control (your own behaviour and your own reactions to others behaviour) and what's out of our control and therefore what is a waste of our time. Well done on everything you have achieved against the odds and throughout such a difficult time.
I kind of think that the fact I'm asking the question at all means I'm in a space where considering forgiveness is the first step. But I don't know where to go next. How do you actually let stuff go, stop thinking about things that were said and done years ago but that continue in some way to have an impact on your life? Every time I have to cut the grass, do the shopping, have no one to share driving a long distance with, no-one to share childcare with....the drudgery of being a parent as well as the joy of being a parent that he has effectively dumped on me to deal with single handedly while he just does whatever the hell he likes, when he wants, I think of him and blame him for that. How do I stop doing that?
I'll check out the author you mention.
I think you should see this not in terms of you 'letting him get away with it' in some way if you forgive him and more in terms of no longer giving him head space in your life. You have moved on and made a success of your life with your DCs. Yes, you have to do the hard bits, but when it comes to it, you will be the adult your DCs place first in their lives. They know who was there for them every day and who wasn't.
So if you are ready to really let him go and to become someone who has no more significant than anyone else you see in the street, forgiving him in that sense might well be beneficial to you in terms of your peace of mind. If you aren't ready, you can't force it.
This is something I spent time talking about in therapy - though in my case, I was struggling with forgiving the children who bullied me so much at school that I was suicidal at age 14 and have been left with life long depression, anxiety and low self esteem.
I had previously been told that I 'should' forgive them because that would be better for me - but my therapist did not agree. She made the point that my feelings were entirely valid, and that if I still felt hurt and damaged by their actions, forgiving them would be a denial of the validity of my own feelings, and that wouldn't be beneficial for me. She said that I had every right to my feelings.
Her belief was that, while forgiveness is important, and is good for the person doing the forgiving, it has to be at the point when you have worked through your negative feelings, and are ready to forgive.
I didn't "forgive" but I did decide to put it away and I am happier for it.
The things that happened were unforgivable but we are tied together by a child so I had to find a way to live myself. Ultimately I just told myself (mentally) to stop whenever I thought about it, distraction and a firm mind worked although it took time and practice.
It was worth it. I now have limited contact but when I do I smile, make polite conversation and walk away without the doldrums descending on me. My life is better. I have the drudgery and the joy but now it is all mine, every achievement my dc make, every time I look at my tidy house or cut lawn, I did that. I changed hate for him to pride in me.
I'm not surprised you feel this way. You're a human being who has been badly betrayed and let down by your ex.
But never think he's "got away with" anything. He really, really hasn't.
For one thing, he'll never have the relationship with his children that you have.
Meanwhile, he has to live with himself and I bet he'll have a few dark nights thinking about it (either now or later in life) that you aren't aware of. You might even be surprised with a heartfelt apology one day!
It helps me to read stories of people who've forgiven he unforgivable. I don't know if that would work for you or not. I will post some links.
I like the following quotes. Find some that really speak to you and save them places you will see them regularly. You have done so well to come back from what happened - now is the time to enter a new phase in your life and let this go.
Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behaviour. Forgiveness prevents their behaviour from destroying your heart
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you
Lastly, I don't know exactly what your ex is like, but would it be worth arranging to have a good heart-to-heart with him? Just putting the past to bed, if you like. His reactions/replies might surprise you and make you feel at peace with it all.
Do you know what sweetheart?
Go on holiday without the kids.
Go for afternoon tea with your friends.
Have a night out.
Have a pamper session.
It doesn't make you a bad parent if you do. It simply gives you freedom.
He has the kids right? Do it on his time.
Just because you have children doesn't mean you should loose you! Find yourself again.
Forgiveness will start there
It helps me to see the processes others have gone through to reach forgiveness for the unforgivable:-
In April 2015, Eva Kor, who survived the Holocaust, publicly forgave ex-Auschwitz accountant Oskar Groening
10 Extraordinary Examples Of Forgiveness
Of course, your forgiveness process is very personal to you, but these stories might help as a jumping-off point.
Thank you SDT and Ican- your perspectives are really interesting and will help me to readjust my rigidly held view that to forgive would be to forget and accept that what he did was OK. Which I see is not the case when thinking rationally.
'Putting it away' rather than forgiving might be a step forward which I can get my head around.
Despite it happening several years ago and the worst of his worst behaviour being over and done with, I am still deeply hurt and feel he's made me into a person I never was when it comes to relationships - untrusting, suspicious, insecure - and I think that's what I hate him for most. I run a mile at the hint of anything vaguely approaching anything more than a platonic relationship - I feel a shocking, physically strong compulsion to run like the wind at the prospect and think I shall be alone forever. Adrenaline courses through me (which sounds over dramatic probably) and I have to get away from that person as quick as I can.
I'm going to ponder on your thoughts some more. Thank you.
I agree that you can work on letting these feelings go while still accepting that he behaved very badly.
Thank you Toad - I will read those when I have some spare minutes.
Been - I do those things - I'm independent, I live a good life, maybe a better one than if we'd have still been together! I guess over the years I've healed myself in my own time in my own way and am in a good place on many levels. It's just this one blight that I can't shake off that I feel I should.
I wouldn't say I've forgiven ex, but I did go to counselling and the whole thing no longer as a negative impact on my view of myself.
I'd more say I simply don't care anymore, I've made peace with it.
I agree with the concept that forgiveness/forgetting in this context is not about letting the person get away with what they did to you, but about getting to the point where you no longer give them space in your life right now. What they did was horrible back then, and always will be. But you are here now, and they are not part of your life, your self, now.
No I don't anyone needs to forgive if they don't want to, I don't really agree with the "you need to forgive to move on" theory. I think indifference is a much more desirable and attainable state. I'm indifferent to my ex but I will never forgive him for what he did to me and how his behaviour endangered me and our children. He's too damaging. Also for him, and mutual acquaintances forgiveness would be tied into starting to do things as a group/family again and I couldn't stand to do that. I don't like him or trust him and I can't give him an inch. Forgiveness would be giving that inch.
You only have one life and to waste so much on something that could make you bitter is simply not worth it.
Forgiveness is not the nirvana you should be striving for
If you can get to a point of indifference that's when you know you have moved on
Some things are unforgiveable but if you can choose to stop it taking up your precious head space, that is the ideal
Thanks very much everyone for taking the time to post. Indifference certainly feels more do-able to me, whilst forgiveness has always seemed an impossible state to reach. You've really helped me to begin to consider things in a different light.
For me, I usually feel pity before I feel indifference.
In your situation it would be like "god, what a sad little man with his sad life where his kids don't even care about him, what a crap life" etc etc
I don't think you can aim for indifference. It just does happen eventually.
I also don't think forgiveness is forgetting; it's closer to accepting. ime forgiveness is an ongoing discipline sometimes; a resolution to not allow what happened to infect my current life. It was bad enough at the time, I don't want to carry it around with me forever.
ime of forgiveness - or accepting - in what sounds like a very similar situation to yours: I kind of counted the cost of what he'd done to me. It was a process over about 6 months and I counted the full cost of the effects of what he'd done - nothing spared. Then I came to terms with it and accepted each section eg I accepted my career was in ruins and would likely never recover. I accepted I was unhappy a lot of the time - traumatised, really - and that's just how it was. I accepted he would never change - this was a big one because a lot of my unhappiness was hoping he'd change, or apologise, or something; the frustration of that, the fighting him (even if internally).
I ended up with a new normal and let the old normal go. What he had done was wrong and I didn't deserve it but I had to accept what had happened and the effects.
There seem to be an idea that one HAS TO forgive. Maybe you should. But maybe you can't right now. Your feelings are valid. If you can't right now, you can't. Maybe one day you will be able to. Lots of compassion towards yourself first.
I have tried to forgive my ex, but it is somehow forced. So I hope that one day there will be a heartfelt one. But maybe there won't.
To be blunt (because others have said it here better and longer)
Change your veiwpoint. (any thought of him is brain energy wasted)
You have dodged a bullet. (imagine another 40+ years of that jerk!)
Pity the fool. (you have everything he never will)
Chores are a drag, whether you are sharing them or not - stop letting the what-ifs rule you and focus on the lucky-nows and could-bes. You can't change the past, you can get a cleaner...
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