Forgiveness After Divorce… and Beyond

Love hurts.

Sometimes it’s beautiful and lovely, of course. But sometimes it just effing hurts.

People offend, they do hurtful things – this cannot be avoided. I do it, you do it – we all do it.

So, let’s talk about how we handle the hurt that comes our way.

It is so easy to take offense, hold a grudge, lash out in anger.

Holding a grudge is another way to avoid feeling pain – and living this way will stunt your growth. If you’re not growing and changing, then you’re not on the path the becoming who you were created to be and this results in a perpetual cycle – of becoming angry at every offense.

How is the cycle broken?

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is important for just one person – you.

Personally, I struggle with forgiveness. It’s something I’ve had to learn. I tend to be hard headed, I want to be right and I want to hold a grudge and prove that I’m right.

When I was younger, these grudges would be overt – where I made my offendedness known in ways that were rude and hurtful.

As I became older and didn’t want to ‘look bad’ to the outside world, I learned to keep my displeasure at bay, but it would always come out at some point, because it always comes out at some point. Hiding the true state of your heart is never helpful, though it might fool for a while.

So, how do we forgive?

First, acknowledge the offense and the feelings of pain you are experiencing. Really dig in here – don’t rob yourself of experiencing your pain. Though this is unpleasant, it is a crucial step to moving on. Make a list, write it down, talk to a friend – but know why and how you are hurting.

Then, once you’ve felt what you need to feel, let go. Release the pain surrounding your offense. This might take some time. Gratitude helps. Focusing on the things for which you are grateful always helps. If you can, focus on something positive about the offender. Even if it’s just to be grateful for the lessons you’ve learned through the experience. Grateful this event has caused you to take the time to know and understand yourself a little more fully.

Keeping the focus on gratitude and not on the offense will heal your heart because gratitude is the key to healing.

Why you don’t need an apology…

When my marriage was at its worst, there was a lot of confusion and manipulation. I was convinced there wasn’t much truth-telling; the confusion orchestrated to help keep me in the dark so I wouldn’t ask too many of the right questions. Lying by omission was acceptable behavior.

As things began to unearth, I wanted a confession, I wanted an acknowledgement of wrong-doing and I wanted an apology – something I could hang on to –a salve to help heal the wounds of my broken heart.  I wanted this, I needed it - I thought - to have closure and move forward. But I never got what I was looking for.

Then I realized I didn’t need recognition from him of his part in the problem to forgive. I needed it to stay in the relationship, mind you, but I didn’t need it to find peace. He didn’t see things the way I saw them and I learned to accept that and eventually be ok with it.

Forgiveness doesn't mean restoration of relationship.

Only real change of the hurtful behavior should result in restoration of relationship. You can forgive and still choose not to be in relationship (or choose limited restoration of relationship). 

Once I forgave my ex, I became grateful for the parts of our relationship and his life that impacted me positively. Appreciating and valuing him as a human being worthy of being valued.

Now, we co-parent beautifully and our relationship is positive and respectful. Because I have forgiven him, there are no grudges to hold. It is over between us, all our unfinished business (including whatever pain I was in) resolved. There is simply nothing to fight over. 

Forgiveness is possible and necessary. For you – not the other person.

Is there someone you need to forgive today?

Here’s to making it great.