I blog frequently on this site about forgiveness. Like here. And here. It's something I've considered often over my life. Mostly out of necessity. (People just keep doing shit to me!)
Like trying to forgive my mom for spending most of my teen years at the bottom of a vodka bottle. Forgiveness of a friend for actually trying to get me to date a guy she liked (don't ask me. Suffice to say I've lost count of her ex-husbands. And ex-friends). And, of course, forgiveness of a spouse for betrayal.
It turns out I'm not so good at this forgiveness stuff. I try. Really I do. But somehow hanging on to the rage I feel about what has been done to me is soooo much easier. And comes far more naturally to me.
However, I'm getting closer to forgiveness with my still-husband than ever before. But sometimes I wonder if forgiveness isn't almost exactly like exhaustion. As in, I'm just too damn tired to carry this grudge any further. So I let it go.
But I recently read something that makes it clearer to me:
In order to forgive, we need to try and stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused.
I think the brilliant soul who offered up this thought to the world is right. Forgiveness comes when we become willing to stop seeing ourselves as victims. When we become willing to identify ourselves as someone other than a betrayed wife. And though the name of my site might suggest that the moniker is my identity, I assure you it's not.
At least not anymore.
For a while, it was. I couldn’t see beyond my own pain to define myself as anything other than broken. And it was hard to imagine myself whole again.
But today – more than three years from the 1st D-Day later – It's part of who I am. There's no denying that. I am a betrayed wife. But I am not only a betrayed wife. Any more than I am only my children's mother. A writer. A gardener. A runner.
And whether or not you have a still-husband or an ex-husband or something in between, forgiveness has far less to do with him, I'm learning, than with me.
I hear frequently from women who've been divorced from their husbands for years...and yet they still carry with them that burden of victimhood. They haven't been able to forgive, they tell me. And they state it as if forgiveness is a feeling, rather than an action that we make happen.
What trips so many of us up, I believe, is that we think of forgiveness as a get-out-of-jail-free card. If we forgive, our thinking goes, we're saying it's okay that they cheated.
Of course it isn't. But forgiveness, paradoxically, isn't something we do for the other person. It's a gift we give ourselves. A get-out-of-jail-free card for ourselves. Or rather a get-out-of-pain card.
It means accepting the situation. No more what-ifs. Or he-shouldas. Or we-shouldas. It is what it is.
We realize, upon closer inspection, that suffering begets suffering. And once we stop nursing that suffering, compassion is possible. For him. And for ourselves. Even – dare I say it? – for the Other Woman.
Give yourself the gift of time. To grieve. To confront the loss. Of trust. Of security. Of a certain future.
Then decide that you are NOT your wound. It is part of you, to be sure. But a part that will heal, though a scar will remain.
Then move forward...with forgiveness.