One comment I keep seeing come up on Chump Lady, over and over again, is when the cheater says to the chump, “I’ve forgiven myself! Now why can’t you?”
I’m not sure what they expect to accomplish from this. Momentum on the forgiveness thing? Look! It’s so easy — WTF is your problem? Just give it go! I’m already there — and you’re sadly lagging behind.
If you forgive yourself does it even count? Do they think they’re God? Isn’t He supposed to adjudicate these matters? How long exactly did this “I forgive myself” thing take? And isn’t it wholly beside the point? Because I would think after you cheat on your spouse, the issue is not how much you forgive yourself, but rather how much forgiveness (if any) you have received. You’re not entitled to it, you know.
If I were to guess, the cheater process of forgiving oneself is not terribly arduous. Because who wants to deal with the discomfort of feeling like a total asshole for very long? For reformed cheaters who really walk the walk, I would think the process takes ages, a lot of grace from the people they wronged, and years of demonstrable acts of being a good person. And even then, IMO, if you were properly repentant, you’d never really forgive yourself. It would be a blot on your character. You wouldn’t have the audacity to announce yourself forgiven. I think you’d have to live with the lifelong tension that perhaps you’re not forgiven, you need to keep earning this, until there is a presidential pardon or something.
But maybe I’m too hard on folks. Paula Broadwell was in the news this week — she was at a prayer breakfast in Charlotte, North Carolina “seeking redemption.” What’s it been? Six months since the Petraeus scandal? Not even? I wish I could embed the video, but check out the link above. She’s wrapped modestly in a shawl (oh Paula, show us your upper arms! Don’t hide your triceps under a bushel!). The interview reminds me a bit of those beauty pageant cross examinations where the contestant blathers on about world peace. I think Broadwell says “my family” about seven gazillion times in the span of minutes. Gotcha. You’re a devoted wife and mother.
The Charlotte Observer quotes her:
“The mission today, the prayer breakfast today, was to speak about redemption and slowing down in life and finding purpose,” she said.
Broadwell sat nearly anonymous, listening to a message about God, family and reflection.
“It really touched my heart. I’ve made some mistakes in the past but I’m trying to look forward with my family,” she said.
The breakfast drew many of the state’s political leaders. Broadwell says she’s been a longtime supporter of the YMCA and the services it provides, and prayer is a familiar part of her own life.
“I grew up in a strong faith-based family,” she said. “I think I have selected to return to those roots for strength, for my family, for myself and to protect our children and to forgive others and move on and face forward.”
FORGIVE OTHERS? Seriously? Who exactly wronged her? All those mean, mean media folks who broke the story? General Petraeus for being just so gosh-darned irresistible? That controlling Holly Petraeus standing by her man? Her cuckolded husband who sticks with her sorry, skinny ass? Who exactly here needs forgiveness?
(I won’t even touch “protect our children” — I mean WTFfuckity fuck is that about?)
Oh Paula, it’s clear you “made some mistakes” but having admitted it (nebulously) let’s get on to the more pleasant business of having forgiven yourself. I bet that was worse than doing hundreds of military push-ups. I’m glad you’ve reflected on it… so publicly. We’re all over that news cycle. Don’t you worry your pretty, pointy little head. All is forgiven.