Forgiveness is important- it helps us heal and become better people. But how do we do it? How can we let go? How important can it be in a relationship? Read More
Forgiving is easier said than done. Yet, if you can forgive, there is an opportunity to move on with a sense of closure. This is a true human capacity that is talked about a lot, but difficult to navigate in practice. Some people just "forgive" but the words are empty. Some are so mad that forgiving is the last thing on their minds.
And our world can be so unforgiving.
I encourage a discussion about forgiveness. What makes it so hard? Why do we hold on to our hurts for so very long? Life has enough hardships and holding on to past hurts just allows us to nurse the pain.
Don't get me wrong. Some things are unforgivable.
Yet we still don't want to be pulled down forever.
Before you know it, our blessed life is over.
Mark Banschick, MD
EXCELLENT ARTICLE. SUGGESTION FOR A FOLLOW-UP ARTICLE:
Given the stats that half of all current marriages end in divorce, do you have a "take" on the newly-proposed policy that couples enter into a two-year marriage and then walk away if it doesn't work. See http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/mexican-lawmakers-propose-two-marria... Some consider that unthinkable but, at one time, fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce was also unthinkable.
while it may seem like a good idea at first glance, a 2 year trial marriage does not solve the issues that is causing so many divorces. the same emnity between the spouses will exist at the end of 2 years and marriages that have a chance will stop after 2 years because there is a way out. Marriage is a commitment and anything less is not marriage. so whats the solution?
mandatory marriage education, which should require anyone getting married to spend at least a set amount of hours learning about what marriage is about, what they should expect and what it is not. unfortunately most people do not think about these things beforehand and when they are finnaly forced to because of problems in the marriage its ussually too late. the damage was done.
Rabbi Josh and Rev Bob bring up a fascinating debate. If close to fifty percent of marriages are fated to fail and who knows how many others remain stable, but nevertheless, unhappy, why not just institutionalize the temporary nature of this institution?
Rev Bob's point is that we should acknowledge the truth and encourage people to work on their marriages from day one if they have a fighting chance to keep them.
Rabbi Josh disagrees and believes in the permanent commitment of marriage, with a fail safe to get out if it fails. But...and this is a big but...he advocates strong education early on about relationships.
I hold with Rabbi Josh on this one, with all due respect for my esteemed colleague, Dr. Bob, from Massachusetts. Relationships are so complex and we often choose a spouse for the wrong reasons. It is a shame that young people don't receive some education about relationships, like how to fight fair and how to avoid holding onto a grudge.
Young people need to know that erotic excitement and fun times - while terrific - will not make everything better if he has habits that just drive you crazy or if she hurts your feelings on a regular basis (and can't apologize).
Resentment over time is the poison that kills love.
We, on the Intelligent Divorce Team have been working on an online parenting program for couples going through divorce. You can find it on www.FamilyStabilizationCourse.com. But we hope to design more online courses in the future about other aspects of relationships.
We are beings that need connection. It is a shame that there is so much loss out there. Maybe, with a little hard work, we can make it easier for the next crop of eager young people in love.
I am struggling with forgiving a guy who I broke up with. It sucked, but I had to do it and it was the best for me. He made me feel so great about myself, but things suddenly changed overnight. I left the relationship very disappointed, confused, angry, and being an emotional mess. After a few counselling sessions to deal with my emotional exhaustion, I realized that I had to forgive him. I was carrying baggage and it started to spill over into other parts of my life. I had idealized my ex thinking he was the one for me. He was recently divorced and I rationalized his poor behavior.
It has been almost 5 months and I still cannot forgive him and I still cry over him. I not only lost a romantic partner, but also a friend. He was one of the few positive male influences that I have had in my life. I was really upset to let him go as I never had a good relationship with my dad and my brother and I was bullied by a boy in middle school and high school.
I think it takes so much more time to heal because some people that hurt us represents things we didn't have and once we have them, we don't want to let them go. My ex represented warmth, security, trust, love, and friendship; things I never had a from a male. He also gave me everlasting confidence and definitely boosted my self-esteem. I really felt letting go of him would make me let go of these things too. I was able to retain the confidence and self-esteem. I am doing a lot better and I hardly think about him, but I am still working on forgiving him.
Sometimes the best you can do is accept rather than forgive.
You accept that you had something special and you accept that he let you down.
The risk in loving is loss. I am so sorry.
You also present a situation that is common. Apparently, your past male experiences fell short. This can have a number of effects. You can put more stock in a new man in your life in the hope of being healed from the past. You may not read correctly just what a good partner really is by the poor role modeling of the past. And with the break up, all the old feelings of hurt and disappointment rush up and fuel the hurt you feel right now.
In cases like these, therapy can be useful. It is important to not let the past dominate your present.
That being said, time usually heals.
Appreciate your frank and honest comments. I can identify with your feelings not in terms of a divorce experience (never been married) but but in terms of fellow clergy who have violated folks' trust in them by abusing their kids or by sheltering the abusers- and then running to Rome to be protected by a chief pastor who becomes an accomplice. I have learned to deal with that by noting that forgiveness is a decision, made out of my HEAD. It will take years, perhaps decades, for the forgiveness to come out of my GUT. Perhaps it will never come. But I forgive- not for the benefit of the perpetrators but for my own benefit. The folks I've forgiven don't deserve to remain in my mind for another moment. I refuse to let them take up further space. God will be their final judge. Bottom line: forgive for your own benefit and not for theirs.
This is very wise. Whether it was you or others, we know that clergy abused children and violated the trust of those who had faith.
There is much darkness in the human condition.
You decided to forgive as a step toward distancing from such filth. You just don't want to be victimized by being a victim. You don't want to obsess about what was done, at the expense of living a rich life. These abusers are not worth your precious time on Earth.
Yet, by taking a step toward forgiveness, you are not forgetting. You will remember and be an advocate for a healthier Church and better protected children in the future.
Forgive does not mean forget. It does mean to dissipate some of the dark hurtful power that sticks to us and does little good.
It is one thing to be hurt. It is another to stay a victim forever. It serves little good purpose.
If you have watched the movie Ordinary people you can see the pain Conrad feels because he was the brother who held on and his doctor asked him how long are you going to punish yourself for holding on. This is where I am at. I held on to my marriage as my ex let go. I still hold on to something that causes me pain. I need to let go of the marraige commpletely so that I can move on and stop punishing myself in pain for the break up.
Being Irish, I have difficulty forgiving. Some of you may have heard the term "Irish Alzheimers" where you forget everything but the grudge. Based on my own experience I think that someone who has been serially harmed by everyone they have loved or trusted is not unwarranted in refusing to forgive or forget. I realize that the holder of the grudge is the one who suffers the most. Their life is consumed by holding onto the grudge and identifying themself as a victim. I do not think forgiveness is possible where the offending party refuses to acknowledge or apologize for an obvious wrong. At the very least they should find it in their heart to apologize for the hurt caused by the alleged wrong even if they believe they did nothing wrong.
To respond to "Grudgingly Yours" I would like to say that my expereience with forgiveness has been quite different than your take on it. I have been hurt and many who know me have said they can't understand why I have suffered so much lose in my life. From my baby daughter dying at 23 days old to losing my lifestyle ease when I was diagnosed with diabetes 26 years ago, I have had to face grief, loss, and sorrow on many fronts. And some of those fronts involve others who have hurt me terribly.
I came to realize that forgiveness is a gift to myself. Because I have a deep faith in God I have made a habit of offering up all my pain and somehow allowing Him to carry it lightens my burden. But I pray for those who have hurt me... I genuinely desire to place my heart and mind in a place where I can hope and pray for the happiness of those who have hurt me. They do not apologize, they do not even know they've hurt me often. That is not the point....
Forgivenss does not obsolve the perpetrator from the wrongs he has committed. Forgiveness does not make his life any easier or happier. It is a balm for my own heart and soul... not for the ones who have hurt me. The gift is in knowing that each and everyone of us is hurt; we have all experienced loss and sorrow. Within every hurtful, mean person is a little child who is lost and scared, hurt and suffering. It is my choice to accept them for who they are and allow forgiveness to be my peace.
Life is hard and messy. None of us is exempt from sorrow and hardships. But my life is so much fuller; it is so rich in love and forgiveness and that is a gift I give myself. I hope you would consider the idea that forgiveness can give you a renewed outlook on your own life. God bless you....
Even if i forgive...this world is a place where eveyone would be taking you for granted that you have forgiven and forgiven so easily..so for how long is it going to continue, and if i accept the fact to forgive and forget, how would i learn the lesson out of it? I would be repeating it again and again.
You make a strong point. Forgive and forget is not wise.
It is not protective.
It is not the way to go.
We forgive for many reasons, but the biggest one is to remove the heavy weight from our hearts that eat at us over and over again. You may be hurt, but if you cannot forgive, you cannot move on.
If someone hurts you, it's a bad experience - of course. Your job is to forgive yourself from being in a vulnerable place. Forgive the perpetrator for being who they are, but stay clear minded.
If the perpetrator has not changed, you need to be protective.
That is healthy and not paranoid.
I can remember what someone did and protect myself, without holding onto the pain and anger forever.
1) You need to remember what happened, even if you forgive.
2) You don't want to be victimized by your own rage.
Life is too short.
I would like to respond to your message more specifically but I don't have a clue as to what you are saying. My model for forgiveness as a Christian is the Christ who forgave at Table and from the Cross- without reservation. JESUS BEFORE CHRISTIANITY (Nolan) is one of my favorite books of a lifetime. If I don't forgive, I can not truly call myself a Christian not can I recite the Lord's Prayer with integrity: "Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us." It also helps me to realize that forgiveness is not as much a feeling as it is a decision.
To Not a Clue,
Thanks for your contribution to the discussion. Forgiveness is so essential for well being. Your faith has forgiveness as an integral experience: one that you live regularly.
Many don't share this approach to faith or to forgiveness. For us, the process of forgiving is an important endeavor, but it often does not come easily.
What we all have in common are the pains of life and the need to find a healthy way to deal with it.
Forgiveness, when done well, can heal many wounds.
I woke up today wanting to share my story of forgiveness. I have struggled with it since my divorce a couple years ago and I know many people do. I happen to be a counselor and understand the importance and need to forgive and the benefits of doing so – I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt so violated, betrayed and duped in my marriage and I thought I could work through these feelings without the need to contact her. I have done many of the things most of you have been doing (seeking counsel, reading books, prayer, etc…). Yet I cringed at the thought of having to interact with my ex-wife in any way. I could not stand to hear her voice or any mention of her, I lived in fear of her calling, emailing or writing me. I was basically held hostage by her memory and I was hurting no one but myself. In reading this thread it appears everyone is in various stages of the forgiveness process. I think MB is right when he say time usually heals. I think that time in conjunction with doing the constructive things aforementioned eventually get you there. I want to tell you that this past Sunday without any specific reason I can point to I found myself calling her and apologizing for my behavior. I had felt like such a hypocrite living a lie, working with my clients to forgive and move on and not practicing what I preached. I have been setting a deplorable example to our adult children and I needed and wanted that to change. Her response was pretty much what I expected, cool with little reaction, but I was O.K. with that. I didn’t call for her validation; I needed freedom from the control that I allowed her to have in my life. I can’t express the incredibly liberating feeling I have; it’s as if a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I understand some reading this may not be ready to do what I did, but I hope my story offers you some hope that there can be a day ahead like this for you. Live your life to the fullest and don’t EVER give up. Good Luck!!
This is an incredible and moving comment because it rings of truth. I have such respect for your honesty. So what that you are a therapist - you are probably a very good one. More to the point: you are a human being and you had a real suffering. Many reading this note will identify.
You stayed on track, grieved, tried to forgive her and yourself - and this past Sunday something inside shifted. We do heal.
Don't be disappointed if another few tsunamis of unhappiness pass through. This is a process. But you are on your way.
Take a look a piece that I posted this week on Radical Acceptance. It may help a bit.
And thanks for following our work. It means a lot to me.
Thank you for the kind words and support, I appreciate your insight. As you said I do anticipate some waves of unhappiness, however, I trust they’re more like thunder storms than tsunamis. :)
Radical Acceptance was a great read, now I have to continue to put it into practice. Your statement that acceptance doesn’t mean passivity – it means freedom really resonated with me.
Thank you for the kind words and support, I appreciate your insight. As you said I do anticipate some waves of unhappiness, however, I trust they’re more like thunder storms than tsunamis. :)
Radical Acceptance was a great read, now I just have to continue to put it into practice. Your statement that acceptance doesn't mean passivity - it means freedom really resonated with me.
i admit fault in hurting a love one . it happend once and in the beggining of the relationship. i asked for forgiveness and wanted to fix/work out the situation.. its been 9 yrs in the relationship and now also 4 yrs married... yes we are both xtreamly young with 3 children. but i understand in not giving up so easly, wich is the reason why im still working the best i can to forgiven by this person i truly love. i dont know anymore if its actual outcome or hoping to be better after being forgiven. ive been hanging on to this battle, but i think its been to long now to still only receive hateful remarks/comments and no sign of progress. im starting to see my love one and realizing that im really seeing a narcissist. what do i do? we both grew up in broken homes and i alway told myself that i would not have the same living moment as the one i had. thats why im still rolling with the punches. i really want our ever after to be an ever after.. but its looking preety bad now..im feeling like im being a victum of emotional abuse...
pleASE HELP....im feeling so depress now..
i realli hope for any feedback on what i wrote..
I have found that couples do not stay still: they either grow together or they grow apart. I have mixed feelings about "rolling with the punches". Perseverance is a virtue while being a punching bag is not. Abuse is abuse whether physical or emotional or sexual. Often a spouse who abuses a partner is also abusing the kids in the relationship. Get some counseling immediately, if not as a couple, as an individual. Give yourself permission to get out of a bad relationship that is going nowhere but down. Sometimes it is nobody's fault that the eggs get broken. Ever try to glue and egg and its shell together? Is that what you are trying in this marriage? Danny DeVito in WAR OF THE ROSES (a must-see movie for folks in a battle)advises: Go back and find a spark in the marriage (if there is still a spark) or separate/divorce as quickly and as civilly as possible. It's like toilet training, shit or get off the pot. Revelations says: be yet hot or be ye cold but if ye be lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Depression is often defined as "Anger turned inward." Has the anger toward your spouse turned inward? Get some counseling, good buddy, and report the abuse to someone in authority, especially if it is overflowing to your kids. If you do nothing else, rent and view War of the Roses. It will scare you shitless into doing something about your situation above and beyond writing about it. Rev Dr Bob.
http://forgivenessafterbetrayalofaspouse.blogspot.com/ all about forgiveness
This is an inspiring and insightful article. Excuse my pet peeve, but I'm always surprised when I see grammatical errors in publications. The word "toward" is not a noun; it can't be plural. "Towards" is non-sensical.
The deeper the pain, the harder to forget. Forgiveness is not an average human's nature. Forgiveness is a superhuman nature. It is for those who can see past the pain and into peace.
We know this is hard but it is such a healing state when we can truly forgive. We were urged to give an online workshop on Forgiveness and so we made it a part of our 7 Personal Transformational Series.
If you are interested to know more, please click http://www.synthesisofadvancedenergies.com and click on Learn to Truly Forgive and Forget.
I'm hoping to cling to the fact that letting go of hurt and pain is a gift to me. The word forgive has many meanings. Perhaps even completely forgetting a wrong and wiping it out of your memory is a form of forgiveness if you are able to do that. I'm not. When you are dealing with siblings and forgiveness, a deep wrong can drag up every hurtful event you've experienced in your family. That too is where I am at. I am going to concentrate on "loving" me and doing what it takes to make me the best person I can be. If apologizing to my "wounder" helps ME, then I will do that. It's time we realize that we are dealing with some strong emotions when you are talking about forgiveness and it's not as simple as telling someone you are sorry or accepting an apology from someone else. I'm hoping to start feeling the love I am able to create inside myself and see that what happened to me was really about the other person needing to mend their broken heart.
Help me. There are no articles or resources anywhere for, "the unforgiven". I have never had a problem forgiving people for the most henious acts committed against me because I have never experienced forgiveness myself. Maybe there is some life lesson to be learned or it is just plain random bad luck for me but it hurts. I am only loved by people as long as I am almost perfect. I take the blame for things I shouldn't because I know that it is only a matter of time until I screw up, ask, beg and plead for forgiveness and it falls on deaf ears. To me my best quality is something that other people don't understand. My super-human quality to put up with more B.S. from people than anybody. My never ending well of forgiveness for others. I call this, "unconditional love". Other people call this crazy but that is not what my post is about. This is about feeling like someone has taken a knife and cut my soul in half. This is about that somebody can love you one day and the very next day day they can turn off their love like a light switch. This is about the phrase, "I love you" being an empty promise. This is about uncertainty and never knowing if today is going to be the day that you are, "unforgiven" and lose another loved one forever. I lost another one. I feel like I am in a crowd of people and nobody can see me because I am invisible. I feel like I have had an ancient curse placed on me in another life time. It hurts so much that I only breathe so that I don't cause any suffering for those I have left. I am, "the unforgiven".
"If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive." - Mother Theresa
I know what you feel. I made several mistakes and have emotionally hurt my mum, she has been fantastic to me for my whole life and I have tried to be the same back, but due to a maze of different and complex things happening to her, to me and to us both our relationship has broken down beyond repair. I am a pretty good person but I feel that due to an emotional fog I have made some bad choices. I have tried to keep my mum, who I do adore, with me and keep us together, I'm 37 now and my mum has been amazing through thick n thin we have been best pals, a single child to a single mum due to my dad being utterly incapable of being a dad. Now I live with mum and my partner of two years, I tried to put us all together in a house which was meant to be a home but has become hell. It just won't work, it's my fault because I handled some things badly, I did not mean to but my mum now calls it deliberate. I did not wish to hurt her, though the result is the same. And no matter how much I try to put it right and to hang in and hold my hands up to my failings it is never enough, I have begged and pleaded and try to be more considerate to both my mum and my partner but it never works. Being unforgiven is the worst torture in the world. I carry on only in the hope I don't cause any more pain but it seems useless and actually hopeless. It is awful as I have so much love for them both. I have none left now for myself.
I've been told most of my life that forgiving means to let go of the pain and suffering afflicted upon you by another person. The only way I think I could do that is to block out any emotions or memories that come into my mind concerning the hurtful act. Forgiving another helps us let go of the baggage we tote around such as anger and hurt which will eventually exhaust you and change who you are. You are only responsible for your actions and you do have the right to speak up when someone offends you. Doing it in a mature way gives you the power you need to feel good about who you are. There's no reason you should go about your day allowing other people to walk over you. It seems that many people can't resist being hurtful to people that are timid and meek. So try to figure out who you are and be proud of that.
More information about formatting options
Mark Banschick, M.D., is a psychiatrist and author of The Intelligent Divorce book series.
Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?