I have read a couple betrayed spouse posts recently, as well as an article or two, on the subject of forgiveness. I have also heard the phrase, “I will never forgive him,” quite a few times. I am pretty specifically focusing on betrayed spouses forgiving their cheating spouses. Although I have mentioned forgiveness a few times on my blog, usually in passing, not as a topic, forgiveness has played a role in the reconciliation of our marriage post my husband’s infidelity. I don’t think forgiveness is something you do for others… it is something you do for yourself. It is about letting go of the hurt and letting in the healing. I know that sounds mushy, I guess sometimes I am mushy. I have read about wives who have divorced their husbands, but have forgiven them, and wives who have stayed, and not forgiven. This would be their definition of forgiving, whatever that might be.
I believe forgiving is part of a process of loving ourselves, a part of letting go of bad feelings. Blue Eyes has never asked me if I forgive him. I will never tell him that I have forgiven him. My forgiving is about opening up my heart to and for myself. Blue Eyes constantly asks me if I still love him, but not if I forgive him. I think he assumes that if I still love him (and he knows I have a fierce and loyal love), I am coming to terms with my new reality and learning to accept him for who he really is. My guess is he thinks I can never forgive him for what he has done, but that is the kind of forgiveness that includes saying what he did was okay. He knows none of it was okay and that kind of forgiveness doesn’t exist in my world. I believe, he believes on most days that I believe in him. Does that even make sense?
On his worst days, I know Blue Eyes stops believing, if only for a moment. He will always have trouble forgiving himself and that brings on shame. Readers probably realize by now how much I despise the shame emotion. Forgiving ourselves and forgiving others by letting go of bitterness and anger equals healing, to me.
Regardless of what has or has not gone on in my marriage since d-day, what I have done, or how I feel, I don’t judge the betrayed spouse, one way or the other. It is not as easy as saying, “she is bitter and angry and won’t let go of all the bad thoughts… she needs to learn to forgive him or she will never move forward from this.” We all do what we do on our own terms and in our own time. These kinds of remarks are said a lot, and in my mind, it is about letting people off the hook for bad behavior, “Come on, hasn’t he suffered enough for what he did?” Um, how he suffers and how much he suffers is up to the cheater. We also have the power to make decisions that work for us. In my mind, forgiveness is a very personal journey and like other words, shame and guilt, for example, I have found that we all think of these ideas and terms a little differently. We arrive to a certain point with baggage and that baggage rears its ugly head in the form of all those emotions, magnified by trauma.
Synonyms for forgiveness include absolution, exoneration, overlooking, grace, and mercy (thesaurus.com). None of which I would have ever attached to forgiveness. One definition of mercy is: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone who it is within one’s power to punish or harm. (Google) Personally, punishing or harming my husband sounds like retribution. I am not into that. I will never overlook his indiscretions, and I do not feel like I have the power to exonerate or pardon my husband. No one does. We are all flawed human beings responsible for our own behavior. Blue Eyes has the power to come to terms with why he did what he did and to become a better person, a more enlightened one for sure, but really, since I had no intention of harming him or making him pay a price, there is no mercy to be had, although some days I do feel like he is being given a gift, after what he has done, that he still has a wife at all. In the end, forgiveness is irrelevant to my marriage unless it is somehow holding me back from true healing and of being an honest and loving partner. I no longer feel intense anger, I no longer feel bound by my role as a victim. I don’t feed off negative energy or conversations where I want to bring up his horrible decisions and behavior. It’s done. I do not personally think that forgiving another person lets them off the hook. Only they can let themselves off the hook.
I have, indeed, and pretty recently said that I will never forgive the stalking whore’s behavior. I am not trying to have a relationship with that horrid woman, and frankly the only healing I have to do in terms of her sorry ass, is to forget she ever existed. That forgetting is about giving no value to her existence, not about forgiving her. Not forgiving her is not holding me back. Not being able to forget she exists, yeah, that’s a bitch. I am not a religious person. I do not believe in forgiveness for forgiveness sake. Forgiveness is relevant to my marriage only because I choose to move forward with my marriage and therefore healing from what my husband has done is important. I have no intention of forgiving people who have harmed me and that I do not want to have a relationship with. They can go fuck themselves.
I do constantly question the concept of consequences when it relates to my husband and his shitty cheating behavior. I have come to terms with what’s done, is done. I don’t hold anger or bitterness in my heart in regards to my husband. However, future behavior for Blue Eyes does hold consequences if it is something he and I have agreed is not conducive to a lasting, loving and nurturing relationship. Separating or divorcing will not be about a lack of forgiveness. It will be because my husband is not doing what he needs to do to be an honest, loyal, and loving life partner. I deserve that. I always deserved that.