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Fairy Dust Forgiveness

bitterbunny_lowrezOne of my most popular posts here is on the difference between real remorse and genuine imitation Naugahyde remorse. After yesterday’s kerfluffle with the research survey on infidelity, I thought we should have a post on the difference between true forgiveness and fairy dust forgiveness.

I like a good forgiveness story as much as the next person. I’m a preacher’s kid. I grew up believing it was really possible for people to just hand it over to Jesus and turn their lives around. I get misty during that scene in The Apostle (has everyone seen this Robert Duvall film? If you haven’t, check it out) where Billy Bob Thorton is this harassing thug who wants to bulldoze Robert Duvall’s scrappy, little chapel. But Robert Duvall stands up to him and embraces him. He doesn’t back down, but he holds a crying Billy Bob Thorton and says “I know you’re a good man.” And you come away from that scene thinking, because Robert Duvall believes it, it’s going to be so.

When I used to watch Frosty the Snowman as a kid I was so happy that the Magician saw the error of his ways for stealing Frosty’s hat and everybody ends up friends.

I like a powerful reconciliation story. I want to believe in that kind of forgiveness — that my goodness and fair-mindedness will win the bad guy over. If I just lead with humility and strength, they will recognize how powerful that is, and they will crumple like a repentant Kleenex.

But the way the world usually works is — the bad guy bulldozes the church. He builds some luxury condominiums with granite countertops and douchbags move in. The Magician keeps the hat and tells Frosty he doesn’t deserve to be a real, live snowman. He’s frozen vapor and that’s all he’ll ever be.

And now what? Now you’re supposed to forgive these bad guys who just stay bad?

Here is what Real Forgiveness looks like to me — you may have a different definition, but here’s my take — I accept it. I see it for what it is. And I stop giving it the power to hurt me. I give up vengeance. I don’t wish you dead. I disengage. I trust the Universe, or God, or whatever will sort it out through the natural laws of consequences. I don’t take your continued existence as a personal affront to my happiness.

That’s my forgiveness. And if you think I’m a bitter bunny, consider that I have set the bar lower for forgiveness than the grandmaster of forgiveness himself — South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He says about forgiveness:

To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.

However, when I talk of forgiveness I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator. If you can find it in yourself to forgive then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator. You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person too.

But the process of forgiveness also requires acknowledgement on the part of the perpetrator that they have committed an offence.

My emphasis there. Forgiveness REQUIRES an acknowledgement of the offense.

How many of us even get that?

And yet how much crap do we read and hear of every day in RIC and in our lives that demands we “forgive” our cheaters? It is essential to our moving on.  Moreover, there is something wrong with us if we cannot muster up forgiveness. We, the chumps, have small, petty characters.

I take exception to this. I think feeling indifferent on the forgiveness issue in no way impedes your moving past infidelity. “I don’t forgive you!” does not necessarily make you a person who wants to hold on to your victimhood and not move forward. You may simply be saying: “I have nothing to work with here.”

I like how Archbishop Tutu says you can both be angry AND you can say “I accept this.” I unchain myself from this crap.

Fairy dust forgiveness is that kind of cheap forgiveness the Reconciliation Industrial Complex traffics in. Just forgive. Let it go. Be the bigger person. You can’t do that? You’re BITTER.

Fairy dust forgiveness is about magical thinking (of course, because fairies make it). That if I fairy dust forgive you, I can TRANSFORM you into a BETTER PERSON. FDF believes in causation. My nice behavior compels you to be nice. And my un-nice behavior makes you keep doing un-nice things. Why of course you had to keep cheating! I couldn’t forgive you. Yep, this one is on me.

Look, chumps. I could sprinkle fairy dust forgiveness all over the 240 pounds of serial cheater that is my ex. Wouldn’t do a damn thing. I could say “I forgive you! Let’s let bygones be bygones. Hope you’re well!” and he would still be a serial cheater. Because he likes it like that. My forgiveness could no more transform that man into a magic toadstool than a good person.

Oh right, but forgiveness is supposed to be for me. To that I say bullshit, RIC. Fairy dust forgiveness does not make the shit sandwich go down easier. You want me to forgive for YOU and your agenda. To keep this marriage together, regardless of how toxic it is.

Let’s talk REAL forgiveness. Acceptance is for me. So I stop living with false hope. So I stop being angry about people and things I do not control. Meh is for me. Because I have better things to do with my life than throw centrality at this person who hurt me. I own my choices and my values. I will not share my life with a cheater because we’re incompatible. I cannot hope and pray for a compatibility that demonstrably doesn’t exist. This person has shown me through their actions what their values are. I accept the reality of that.

I don’t wish them dead. I wish to disengage. I want peace in my life.

That is forgiveness to me and by my definition I have forgiven. And I remain unreconciled.

I think the RIC assumes that if you reconcile, you have forgiven. And that’s an erroneous assumption, because if you ask me, there are more bitter people staying married to cheaters than there are people divorced from them. The bitterness comes from not living out their values, from being disappointed that all their efforts at being magnanimous were not sufficiently appreciated. There is resentment. Why isn’t my magic fairy dust forgiveness WORKING?

Talk to the magical thinkers over at the RIC, maybe they can explain it to you.

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  • I agree with your definition of forgiveness, CL. It is more about not giving anymore energy to the cheater and letting them go to God, etc. And I agree that being together does not necessarily mean forgiveness is present. I am angry with those in the RIC who push reconciliation at all costs….esp to the chump. Not ok! Cheaters need to repent and even then a chump doesn’t have to take them back is how I see it.

    • I’m with Divorce Minister on that this one. And forgiveness does NOT equal relationship restoration–that’s a whole process in and of itself, if you do fall into that….

      Funny enough (and I’m not pimping my blog here on purpose), but my post this week was on forgiveness too, and just looked this up tonight…great minds think alike…

  • It’s definitely more peaceful around here this last year or so 🙂

    I like it. I’ve never been good at holding onto bad feelings or memories (or good ones, and I’m terrible with names… sigh… lol), so there was never a question of me getting over the wrongs done once the perpetual source of future pain was rightfully dispelled.

    Took me a good many years to figure that out though. Well, at least now I know, right?

  • I needed this, ChumpLady! I have been wrestling with how horrible a person I am because I never forgive people who show me no contrition. I am, to others, a grudge holder. I said screw them and walked away. My NPD ex and his NPD friends ask my kids all the time why I don’t talk to them anymore.

    • I’m holding on to my grudges until cockroaches go extinct, and then maybe a little beyond that. It’s a survival strategy for which I do not apologize. Leopards don’t change their spots.

      If I were to “let go”, “move on”, “forgive” or any other means of getting to MEH, that is for me and me alone, and the last thing I would do is let him know about it.

  • This is a great subject for conversation. Going by your definition, I HAVE forgiven my cheater ex. At least for the cheating. I’m still struggling with forgiving him for the way he treats/treated our children. I’m working on forgiving myself for staying with him that long.

    What the RIC people don’t understand is that chumps have forgiven the cheaters so many times for so many things. All that spackle was made of forgiveness. I let it go when my cheater spent so much time with his “running buddies” because it was early in the morning while the kids were asleep. I spackled over the fact that he used up his energy with them and went to bed earlier than the kids. I spackled over the fact that he had to “work” out of town all of the time because he was earning lots of money to care for our family. I spackled over all of his negative actions. I told myself and I told the kids that he loved us and wanted the best for us because that’s what he SAID.

    When a chump runs out of spackle it’s because they’ve forgiven as much as they can without any love or forgiveness coming back.

    • “When a chump runs out of spackle it’s because they’ve forgiven as much as they can without any love or forgiveness coming back.”

      Oh, Elizabeth, this is so true…

      • I’ve forgiven so many times that if the divorce settlement were based on the level of forgiveness doled out over the marriage, he couldn’t pay up if he lived to be a thousand.

    • This is an excellent point. We so often end up in a catch-22 situation. If we “don’t forgive” the offense we tell our friends about, we seem mean spirited and small. If we explain that this isn’t a first offense but one of many (usually stretching back for years), we seem like idiots for having put up with it for so long. From an outsider’s perspective, we can pick between appearing vengeful or stupid.

      We aren’t lacking in forgiveness, we’ve just stopped letting our forgiveness be devalued.

      • “We aren’t lacking in forgiveness, we’ve just stopped letting our forgiveness be devalued”

        These are powerful words, Eilonwy. Thank you!

      • Stealing this “We aren’t lacking in forgiveness, we’ve just stopped letting our forgiveness be devalued” this is great!!

      • Add me to this string–I LOVE this.

        “What the RIC people don’t understand is that chumps have forgiven the cheaters so many times for so many things.”

        “We aren’t lacking in forgiveness, we’ve just stopped letting our forgiveness be devalued”

        So, it goes something like this:

        Innocent?bystander: What? You haven’t forgiven him/her?
        Chump: *gasp!* What? Oh, my goodness, NO! Of course not! [Alternatively, Chump: Of COURSE! Yes!]
        Innocent?bystander: Oh, you HAVE to forgive! Or you’ll just be bitter, and that’s such a drag for everyone. [Alternatively, Innocent?bystander: But you still seem like you haven’t, like you’re still upset. You’re not friends with him/her?]
        Chump: Oh, bless your little heart! [Alternatively, Chump: Don’t be naive. Oh, come on, now!] I forgave that (wo)man so many times for so many things, I’m done–forgiveness lost its meaning with him/her. Last straw. And, it’s not up to me to forgive him/her on behalf of my kids. (S)he really hurt them, you know. But let’s move on! And, no–I don’t want to be friends with someone who isn’t trustworthy, with someone who wouldn’t have my back, you know? It devalues the meaning of friendship. Things could change one day if I get a real apology–you know, with recompense and real regret, and acknowledgement of the damage (s)he caused, an apology that is less self-serving and more self-aware. But until then, meh. Let’s go do something more fun than this!

        • Bystander: “Maybe the two of you weren’t meant to be, but now you can start over as friends”
          Chump: “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. I have friends already. Real ones.”

    • Wow. That is so true. For me , 14 years of financial malfeasance and ruin combined with his obsession to online porn and constant masturbation, I could no longer ”spackle”. He showed me who he is. I FINALLY believed him. I do not hate him, but I am still pissed as hell that he conned me. I thought I was smarter than that. He duped me from the time we were dating. He has lied, manipulated, gaslighted, gone hysterical and sobbing when caught, begged for ”forgiveness” only to do it all again. HE WILL NEVER CHANGE. EVER. Once, after I caught him again at his penis games, he grabbed my hands in his, and looking deeply into my eyes, with tears brimming in his, pleaded ”can we start over BRAND NEW?” I said ”not only no, but HELL NO!” He tells everyone who will listen, that I am burning up inside with hatred and bitterness, and would everyone please pray for me because I won’t ”forgive”, he even tells my children this. Actually, aside from my financial worries, I am happier and more peaceful than I have been for YEARS. On the road to meh. And it feels good. I am not bitter, but I do not forgive his knowingly and with forethought, bombing our family into extinction. That’s between him and his maker. Not my job man. 🙂

    • Elizabeth, you could be writing about my life. I spackled so much. I spackled when he was never home. Always away working. When he was home and never wanted to spend time with his family because he “needed his time”. When he came home with bites on his neck and back and I was told to get over it, nothing happened, it was just in fun. When the newest female “friend” asked him out for coffee/to the football but he would never spend time with us doing the same.

      I’m a little over 3 years down the track and I look back and think wow, just wow… I put up with all that and really for what??? For somebody who I was under the illusion cared about me and our children.. pfftt. He totally devalued me in every possible way because he is that extra kind of special and can do what he likes… I don’t forgive him, I don’t ever want to see him again but I do forgive myself. I have reached meh and boy what an amazing place to be.

  • I accepted the shit sandwich and moved on. Forgiveness, as good as it gets under the circumstances.

    Excellent post.

  • Lisa, you could respond to your kids that you are simply doing what’s healthy for yourself by removing the toxic people from your life. I’ve done that.

    I recently visited my BF and sat in his social group counting the various degrees of disordered personality around me…knowing their various track records and listening to their manipulative tactics. When people have a few drinks, it’s harder for them to hide their real selves.

    I gave a silent thanks to the wise friends who have made it OK for me to keep paring away the toxics and keeping the sane people close. My daily life has never been calmer. However, I hesitate to get too close to a BF who hasn’t evolved enough to be able to recognise that the people making him miserable could easily be warped out of his orbit.

    Same goes for cheater ex’s. Why take the stupid “high road”… Let them get on with their inauthentic lives. They actually don’t give a rat’s ass whether you forgive them or not.

    • “They actually don’t give a rat’s ass whether you forgive them or not.”

      This is the honest to God truth. They obviously cared so little about the chump in the first place they cheated and started the shit in the first place. Forgiveness for me is indifference. I don’t wish harm on my X and the OW, I just don’t concern myself with them at all. To me, to wish them bad things means I am still owned by what happened, and I’m not anymore. I just accept it, and file it away with “Horrible Things That Happened To Me.” What else can you do?

        • About the OW being in your face….

          I don’t even need to wish harm on the Ex and OW. They are pretty adept at bringing it on themselves. They don’t want forgiveness….they want attention!

          In my ase, the OW being interviewed on TV by a family therapist didn’t even realise she was actually being cast as a pitiful spectacle. She truly is the classic jiggly beotch we all cringe at on those shows. She was fodder for the tabloids.

          I actually enjoy the occasional read of their blog…it makes me so very glad I am so very far removed from the attention ho that is my ex and his bloated woman. I often marvel at what an actor he was to fool me for the couple of years we were together. At least he used to make me laugh. At him, not with him.

          They are disgusting, yes, but laughable too…she blogs about her relationship troubles, her therapy, her health problems (I suspect faked to make her blog more readable), their so-called family life, reviewing fast-food restaurants and trailer parks, free nights at Super Eight, tacky consumer products. God, how could an intelligent woman (moi) get involved with a guy who had a penchant for such women? Why on earth they don’t just get real jobs and get on with their lives.

          I say a prayer of thanks every single day that I have learned to be happy on my own, and be grateful for the friendships that I can have without giving away my soul.

          • Marci,
            Can you share the joke with us and pass on their blog page? Sound like it would be real entertaining reading.

      • Because according them they have a sick form of justification for doing what they did.

      • “Forgiveness for me is indifference. I don’t wish harm on my X and the OW, I just don’t concern myself with them at all. To me, to wish them bad things means I am still owned by what happened, and I’m not anymore. I just accept it, and file it away with “Horrible Things That Happened To Me.”

        Beautifully put.

    • And why should those fucking cheaters get to even decide what the definition of “forgiveness” is? They got to define the marriage,the reality, their image, all kinds of shit–it’s time for CHUMPS to decide what forgiveness looks for THEM, and everyone else can fuck a fair-trade handwoven basket.

    • So true. During a discussion with STBX he actually told me “oh the reason you can’t forgive me is because you are are soooo judgmental, and moralistic. I don’t care you don’t forgive me. You need to grow up” My answer was I am glad because I value myself too much to around the undeserving. He slunk off like the snake in the grass he is.

      • My h says this about me all the time. Not sure why having standards is so uppity. It’s pretty easy to live life with no standards, maybe they just all want their lives to be easy. I’m sick of being called judgy and high falootin.

        • I don’t know about you Nic but I am really proud of having values. My father used to say measure a “man” (you can insert woman too, said this to my brothers) by the values they live.

      • If it is any consolation, my ex husband was attracted to me all of 45 years ago because of my high standards and then just before he pulled the plug after 37 years of marriage, he looked in my direct but not directly at me and stated “not everyone has your standards you know”! A red flag went up immediately, along with many others over the years which I chose to ignore the fool that I am, suffice to say a very short time later he sent our son in to tell me I was going. Not much more I can add really except I still have those standards.:)

  • I have a ways to go yet. I can go through long phases when I am disengaged but then it might be the sight of the OW flaunting herself in the area I live, taunting me through my kids that sets me back. Out of sight out of mind as far as I’m concerned but when the bitch makes herself visible I regress and I hate myself for it – I get so annoyed that cannot seem to rise above.

    Any thoughts or suggestions from fellow Chumps on how to disengage when the affair partner seems to want to make themselves visible would be much appreciated – any small offering that will help me to disengage totally.

    • Just know that however she acts, OW will always have insecurity about you having kids with your ex. That’s where that in-your-face behavior comes from, jealousy. And do your damndest to act like you don’t notice. I think these people thrive on getting to us.

      It comes with time, also. I used to read about celebrity chumps to make myself feel better…misery loves beautiful, rich, famous company 🙂 Brandi Glanville vs. Leann Rimes was always a good one, especially because a lot of the public reaction to Leann & Eddie was to rip them to shreds for what they did. Affirmation 😉

      • Thanks for that Lale. It helps being here too. I get so mad at myself for stooping to her level and getting sucked into her toxicity. I would never have the audacity to behave the way she does. It’s like we’re a different species almost. It is the thing I struggle with most, the thing that holds me back.

        • I definitely have been there. My ex dumped the piece of trash and however “meh” I thought I was, it was still a glorious day 🙂 She’ll get hers, don’t worry.

    • Tonya, you have to consider what’s really going on with that. Here’s this skank who went after your husband, and then feels the need to flaunt it in front of you. Now, there are women like that in the world, and I sure as hell am glad I’m not one of them. Imagine, having to fill up my black heart, getting my jollies, from sticking it to people I hurt? Honey…..these women…..if your guys were single, wouldn’t give them the time of day. It isn’t about love, it’s about winning/validation/I’m better than you.

      You WILL be happy, and your heart will be full, because you are a loving, whole person with the capacity to feel joy. Her…..she’ll be miserable because she’s a miserable person, with a miserable future. Pity the woman, and thank the Lord above that you get to be who you are.

    • When you feel like you’re getting pulled in, remember a couple points:

      1.) She was AVAILABLE. She’s not special or sparkly person won a great prize; if it wasn’t her, it would have been someone else.
      2.) KNOW that you now have someone who interfered with your life and coveted what you had. That’s a sick bitch right there with zero self-esteem or self-respect.
      3.) Your past is her future. If she thinks that he won’t do to her what he did to you, she’s an idiot. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. I hope she enjoys what’s in store for her.
      4.) If the she’s into cheating loser hyenas who’s loyalty is controlled by opportunity, she’s won the fucking lottery. Thank God you are free of that.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      • Einstein, Rumblekitty, thanks. My goal right now is to let go of my past and rise above. Your words help. Hard to see the woods for the trees somedays.

        • Please don’t forget your cheater. The AP, ONS and other very special people would have never been in your relationships w/o your cheater permitting it, seeking it and desiring it.

          I don’t think anyone can steal a spouse or partner. The spouse / partner sought out those people.

          • I’m quite fully aware of that. My cheater, had several dating profiles looking for people to actively cheat with. I was talking only about the mindset of the women who are “into” that kind of arrangement. They’re a special breed in their own right.

            • Yea. I hear what you are saying.

              My asshat’s LT OW is to the core a self-entitled serial cheater. Live!Laugh!Love! -type. The ones who DESERVE it all. What a creep. And so sad her husband, the guy she cheated with to break up his first marriage, begs her to stay after all of her affairs, swinging and sport fucking. Barf.

              But then again, my asshole spouse is also a serial cheater.

              Two wrongs are just wrong.

              • I had to laugh, I used the term “sport fucking” quite a bit to describe him and his (*cough*) ladies.

      • dang, Rumblekitty, you’re the best! So, so true!!

        I needed this post today; been gone awhile, busy – but recently was hurt by my narc ex’s narc sister…talk about the female version of him…and while I am indifferent to him now, I have to apply the same attitudes to her as well. Go with God. You are so fucked up, there is no amount of kindness or generosity that can change you into a nice person yourself. I love these conversations about we can and can’t control, how actions speak louder than words, and the need to set our boundaries with all these toxic people, and to turn the focus on ourselves and to be the best person we can be, regardless of how these other people act towards us. I don’t know if it’s forgiveness as much as it’s reclaiming our self esteem to not be treated poorly, by anyone, anymore. Forgive ourselves for being chumped, forgive ourselves for trying to control sick people and make them who we think we need them to be, forgive ourselves for neglecting healthy friendships for the fucked up ones. Boundaries. Indifference. Peace. Joy.

    • Tonya I do not have advise right now, just wanted to let you know I could have written your post word for word and would add that no one in my life really gets those soul crushing set backs via kids.

    • Tonya it is so hard. Case in point for me from BD to him living with her….. 10 weeks later. She has now told my daughter that she is sooooo glad my daughter looks up to her as a mother figure. She knew my daughter would tell me.

      Now I know how my daughter feels about me, and what she thinks of her. You need to realise that OW or OM are insecure within themselves. Hell as soon as I know they are married or in a relationship I just don’t think outside that realm. I mean George Clooney has now been removed from my bucket list. You really have to trust your instincts, and remember your value and worth. Never rely on someone else to define you.

      Now on a side note OW split her two daughters up so she could be with STBX. Left one in Australia & moved to my country. Gosh who the hell would look up to that? She wants to bait you for her own insecurities. It is not easy I know but eventually you will look at her as the assclown she is. Whenever you feel yourself engaging try and walk away. As I said she needs the drama because what else has she got.

      • “she needs the drama because what else has she got”

        man!! that explains my day. XH MOW had one of her friend try to friend request me last night at 1 am. after i blocked the MOW from seeing my facebook a few days ago; when i didnt respond the way she wanted me too MOW just had to text my phone to make sure to rub it in. i am still mind fucked over the whole thing.

        my response to the friend was “you know we dont know each other, arent we a little old to be playing high school games. if you want to ask a question then ask or just leave me alone” the friend has now blocked me. ok, thats fine. i didnt know you anyway.

        MOW texted me from her phone (because they are still acting like he doesnt have a phone) as my XH. she text “Grow up stay off my facebook page ok XH” so i just responded “right” right away she text back “right wat”

        i dont understand why she is started all this bullshit. i havent texted or called for weeks. and it seems funny that all this happens after i block her from seeing my page.

        but i figured it was something is going on with them. her relationship with my XH must be insecure if all they have in common is to sit and bash me. i am sure she keeps him mad at me, keeps him talking shit about me. otherwise how else can she enable all his lies about how bad i treated him if she cant engage me in drama.

        not my monkey, not my circus. (but ya,,,it still got to me. not that i let her know it)

        • Hi mrsvain, you nailed it there. You don’t engage and it pees her off. You basically have sent a message stating he’s all yours. It’s like this. “A & B” are together, but “B” wants to get with “C”, without letting “A” know. Now “A” finds out, not happy, argues with “B & C”. This causes “B & C ” to join together against “A”. However, “A” finally realises that “B” isn’t worth it and says Bye bye. Now that “A” is removed, and no longer engages, “B & C” only have each other. Now just two ass-clowns. Subsequently “B & C” now have day to day dramas.”C” needs to keep the “luurrve going so tries to entice “A” back, however “A” is not interested, & goes to have a healthy authentic life. (obviously the MOW is so desperate that she needs her friend to join in, as you stated so high-school)

          As a friend said the OW or OM sometimes wonder why the Chumped spouse isn’t fighting. The answer is simple….because they are not worth it that’s why. A person with integrity, value, & honour does not do what our spouses did. Therefore, the person they are most likely to get with, is as my mum would say, the remnants remaining in the waste-master. Honestly the OW in your situation really seems one sandwich short of a picnic basket (no offense to sandwiches). I think you show amazing strength.

          • wow!! thank you for that!!

            i dont feel like i have amazing strength. it is just another thing they/he has done to hurt me. apparently that is the only thing that makes him happy is hurting me. when i was the only one who actually cared and tried to make him happy.

            days like yesterday, when i start off thinking i am going to make it, and trying hard to move on…and then she hits me with all this craziness that i just cant figure what in the world or why would she even want to. and it seems that i am back at square one, crying and wondering how could my husband hurt me so badly and so often and STILL hurting me. it pisses me off that i have to start over!!

            but honestly i dont think my XH really wanted a divorce and did not even THINK i was going to divorce him. he was thinking that he could f*ck around, drink and party while i hold it all down, then he would bring his MOW so i could see her and i was sappose to get on my knees and beg him to come home, all the ugly past forgiven. i really truly and honestly believe he was shocked as hell at the final divorce. and then got mad that i took everything, he really didnt think i would which was why he kept saying that he didnt want anything.

            and now he is stuck with this nothing of a woman who has no morals, values or integrity. he lost his children and his wife, and well everything and ends up with absolutely nothing. and of course is super mad about it and of course it is ALL MY FAULT. which he kept trying to tell me every chance he got, and when i quit playing that game…now he has no clue what to do next. his life sucks. he cant blame me, his chewbacca sucks, he cant blame me, he lost his truck and his job, still cant blame me. he must be in a bad place, drinking everyday till he passes out is my guess or doing his mean drunks where he breaks everything he can just because and not much fun for chewbacca anymore, so she was hoping to get him jump started again by trying to get me to fight with him and her again. oh well, she can tell him what she wants too, it was all lies to begin with. she really doesnt need me to say or do anything she can just tell him i am. apparently she is not too smart either

            i needed your response. cuz i was letting it mindfuck me. thank you.

            • Hugs. You and everyone of us will get through. Hell I have my days. After 25 years I was discarded and replaced like some home appliance. I am 19 months out now.

  • Preach on, CL! For me, acceptance is where it’s at. I have reached the point where I accept what happened (though I still occasionally shake my head in wonder at it all) and I have moved on with my life. Sure, I am still angry about the money ex owes me, money I could really use but will almost certainly never get. Yes, I am DEFINITELY angry about the recent tsunami of craziness ex has unleashed on our son, most of which I haven’t bothered to post about. But beyond that…… he is a disordered person who cannot change and cannot feel remorse or responsibility for his actions. It was never really personal, in the sense that he would have treated any other woman the same way he treated me. The only difference is, a lot of other women would have moved on WAY sooner than I did. For that, I have forgiven myself.

    The ex has never asked for forgiveness — in fact, he blames me for everything, and told me repeatedly he had already forgiven himself. I have no forgiveness for a man who is unrepentant and continues to harm others willfully. But that doesn’t mean I’m bitter or sit around wishing him harm. Most of the time, except when I post here, I’m not thinking about ex at all. I have other things to do with my life these days: a hectic career, a new boyfriend, an ill elderly mother, a teen son. I have no time or room for one disordered ex.

  • Wow. Thanks. This is in black and white what I keep telling the cheater and MC. I forgive myself and am working towards acceptance. I need to accept that these things are my history and move forward.

  • Nice quote from Desmond Tutu. I may have to edit today’s post on divorce minister to include it.

  • The problem with my serial cheater is that every time I attempt to forgive in the sense that I attempt to let go of the anger and bitterness, something else rears its ugly head. Something literally just happened minutes ago to throw me back and start all the hurt and pain again.

    My STBXH has been writing me long emails in which he professes to sincerely and truly love me; to understand the pain he has caused; that he wants to get back together and will do whatever it takes; and describing his intense sex addiction therapy, including going to church three times a week. I have been (mostly successfully) resisting the urge to break NC, but have felt incredibly guilty that he is apparently working so hard and wants to make his life better, and that he loves me and wants me back.

    One of my coworkers just told me that he saw STBXH on a date last night, at our formerly favorite restaurant where we celebrated anniversaries and birthdays.

    This hurts so bad right now, and I don’t know why…I already decided it was over, I wasn’t giving into the reconciliation attempts…but this is KILLING me. So much for forgiveness; now I have to start at square one again.

    • This made my stomach drop for you. Even when you don’t want them back, it is somewhat redeeming to think they are really trying. Then this. People are gross. Hugs, DG.

    • I believe in the sanity that NC brings, but I also think that calling bullshit sometimes actually makes NC easier. When mine did something similar, and I asked him what his girlfriend would think of us getting back together (all email by the way), I shut him down quickly. He didn’t know I knew about that one! Much less contact from him after that. I would be very tempted to tell him that you don’t accept that he loves you when he’s dating other people, and that you don’t want to hear from him again. Sanity restored.

      • Thanks lale. DoneNow, I am so tempted to do this I can’t tell you. I asked my lawyer though and she said not to say anything. Then, when he brings up his sincere reconciliation attempts under oath to try to mitigate the damaging prostitute/fuckbuddy/craigslist/whatever stuff, we can use this to show that he is still lying. Impeachment testimony is incredibly valuable in court, because the court can infer based on this that his whole testimony is bullshit. So I guess for now I will hang onto it.

        Although seriously I am so tempted…. Want to text him and ask if his sex addiction therapist had recommended that he start dating again; or whether his new girlfriend was OK with his monthly prostitute expense.

        Ugh. This is a horrible D-day for me, and it’s not even really a D-day. For some reason this is hurting big time.

        • Gravity,
          “including going to church three times a week.”—Going to church does not make you a Christian just as me standing in the garage does not make me a car!!!! Going to church does not make him a Christian. I remember reading that here and it stuck in my mind something fierce. My pseudo-Christian STBXH goes to church 5 days a week and volunteers there instead of doing things he is supposed to do like sign the closing of the house papers, divorce papers, help his daughter pack for college, etc. Just has you have heard here a million times follow their actions and ask yourself “would a Christian man do this? Would a husband wanting true reconciliation go out on a date with ANOTHER woman?” Then ask yourself “Is this the type of man I want to have in my life?”

          I often have to play “Other Person” with my conscience. “Other Person” is where I place a good friend or loved one in my place. If their spouse was treating them the way your spouse is treating you, how would you respond to them? Would you tell them to “take him back because he goes to church” or “he is a lier and this is unhealthy”.
          I wish you peace soon

        • Sorry, yes, bad advice! Didn’t catch that you were going to court. Sorry you are having a to deal with his tactics. Maybe write a letter, but don’t send it? Helps me sometimes! I hope you’re able to put this all behind you soon and start healing. I found lovely pictures on one of their friend’s Facebook pages on my last D-Day. They were laughing and having a great time. It hurt. But at least I knew if I ever had any doubts about my choices before, that I would never have them again. Who dates while trying to reconcile?? Someone who is dishonest and can never be trusted.

        • JEZUS DefyingGravity!

          Forget forgiveness until you’re emotionally and legally safe from him.

          And, let me tell you, very very VERY few churches are equipped with the special secret recipe of shit sandwiches these assholes have to offer…

      • Stop reading those emails. NC is not just you don’t contact him; you can’t give him access to your brain and heart. Trust that he sucks. On some level, you are still hoping that what he says in the email is true. You are just experiencing D-Day over again when you read that stuff, allow that little bit of hope to sprout, and then find out he’s dating. I’m so sorry he’s playing you this way. And I will admit there are times I long to get a contrite email from Jackass. But that would be like inviting a hyena to Sunday dinner and being surprised to find myself on the menu.

        • I’m with Jackass on this one…..NO CONTACT. You know it’s all lies, and all you’re doing is giving him the opportunity to lie to you and access to your triggers.

          You have to stop the disappointment cycle, because he’s getting off on it.

        • “can’t give him access to your brain and heart.” Great and correct advice, but super, super tough. I’m disappointed in myself because I thought I was a little further along to meh than this.

          You know what it is though, it’s so much less about the actual sex for me. It’s the freaking betrayal. It’s that anything loving or caring he ever said was just him opening his big freakish puppet head, and letting some demon ventriloquist vomit out empty words designed to detract from his soulless being. (There’s a cartoon for CL, ha!) That is so goddamn terrifying that I can’t even face it. The fact that I shared my vulnerable self with this…reptile thing.

          Emotional and psychological rape, nothing less. How do you forgive something like that? I’m not sure it’s possible, if one is being completely honest with oneself.

          • I want to share something that has helped me. When STBX sends emails, I have a trusted friend who reads them for me and then tells me if there is anything I need to know about. Saves me from the diatribes. Perhaps this would work for you? Heck, I do this with texts and emails. Keeps me from going back to square 1.

          • I alternate not even thinking about her to feeling sorry for my ex’s GF, I’m glad she sticks with him so he doesn’t turn his attention on me. So that helps. I don’t have the kid thing and she is not flaunting at me. Defying Gravity, do you have someone who can read those emails For you? Someone who could let you know if there is anything you have to respond to? You can set a filter to dump his emails to a folder so you don’t read them, you can set a filter to forward them to a friend. NC means you don’t have any contact, you don’t let his lies suck you back in to a place where you can be betrayed again. Stop reading his msgs. And massive Jedi Hugs!!!!

            • DG my STBX is a moron and has tried to control the narritive since day one, God has forgiven him so all his sexual transgressions are in his past, blah blah blah. I am now seen as the one with all the issues by him and his Church managment team as I am unwilling to play their game of forgive the sin and stay married to the sinner. I have been NC now for a few months and love it. Even with his BS attempts to paint me as a bad mother. blah blah blah. My point if I have to contact him and it was pointed out to me recently to do so on some level so he can’t use the nc agianst me in regard to our daughters health. I now text him- I will not engage in email as I do not trust that I will not allow him to push my buttons and hook me again emotionaly. so I text and I have created a group so when I do text him it goes to my pastor ( i changed churches) and a member of his MT. his responces also go to them so his attempts to be an asshole in writing is kept an eye on anything else I do not read, if he has to hide it from them it is not worth my time as he is just fishing for a responce to justify his BS. stay strong DG

            • Thanks Leia and Dat…I haven’t perfected the art of NC yet, by a long shot. Every time I try to be reasonable and respond to a basic request (i.e. he emails and asks me to please mail me this bill that came to me accidentally, etc.), and I respond with four words (it’s in the mail), somehow snowballs into leaving the door cracked open for something bigger; even if I don’t go there, he does with some long follow up email.

              But more importantly, my heart and mind aren’t NC, and I’m letting him take up way too much space. I know that, and am working on it. Thanks for the advice and support!

              • DF,
                I’m in total agreement, I never thought going NC would be so difficult.
                Same here, if I would just have a simple response to a question, then
                there would be a barrage of emails after. The hardest thing for me right
                now, is we have gotten so far without even seeing a lawyer yet, and I
                would like to continue with the separation process. I understand the more
                we get settled and divided, the less expensive legal fees will be. Every step
                towards separating “things” and making decisions, he throws a fit, and it
                begins. Frustrating.

              • DG – You have gotten some excellent advice here. Most important was NC also means NOT reading/accepting his contact. Looks like you need to work on that a little and that’s ok – very good suggestions here about ideas on how to do that.

                Thinking of you – Hang in there.

        • Yes, LaJ and DefyingGravity, for the first several months after my husband told me to leave or he would, I felt so ripped off that I never got the chance to even consider reconciling. I was envious and resentful of all the people who were given that opportunity.

          Slowly, very slowly I’ve come to realize how fortunate I was that he did not decide to pursue me as he had always done before, because then I would have to be even stronger to get away from him.

          As far as contrition, there is none. He basically blames me for everything. When he admitted there was another woman he added, “I’m sorry.” But he wasn’t. He was cold as ice.

          Defying Gravity, what you’re having to endure is above and beyond anything you should have to endure. I’m so sorry. It’s time to stop feeling any guilt at all over that man and harden your heart to him. I hope this nonsense is behind you soon and that you stop having mini d-days which would naturally set you back each time.

          • Sorry, DG, this is so painful.
            When my STBX (who does not want to divorce) does or says cruel or duplicitous things, I try to turn it around. I tell myself “this is a gift – he is showing me why I can’t be with him anymore” and I use it to strengthen my resolve. Hard to do, but it’s a way to get through moments of searing pain.
            Actions speak louder than word salad emails.
            I bet your STBX and his “date” shared an appetizer of word salad.

            • Flowerlady, that is such good advice. That should be on a poster/coaster/lamppost/blimp .

        • LAJ – “And I will admit there are times I long to get a contrite email from Jackass. But that would be like inviting a hyena to Sunday dinner and being surprised to find myself on the menu.”

          With such a serious topic being discussed you just made me fall completely off my chair laughing. I always seem to get a good daily laugh on this blog, in spite of all the terrible things I read. Thank you for that one!

        • “But that would be like inviting a hyena to Sunday dinner and being surprised to find myself on the menu.”

          Now that’s funny. Thanks for the AM laugh.

    • I was looking for words of wisdom on how to let go earlier. This one I liked – ‘Just because you get a tap on the shoulder, does not mean you have to look back’. Keep looking straight ahead DG. Don’t look back. He sounds pure evil.

    • Ugh! I’m so sorry you got slapped in the face with that, DefyingGravity. How utterly disgusting! Sending you a big hug…

    • Keep repeating the mantra–“Trust that he sucks.”

      Odds are very high that he is engaging in new tactics to suck you in, reduce his costs, feed his ego–or all three. He may be sincere–but he is sincere in his desire not to lose his comforts.

      If he really has changed his spots, then they will remain changed whether you respond to his emails or not. Wait until your court issues are settled. Wait until you feel confident about yourself and your ability to respond with strong boundaries. If you still want to talk to him about how much he’s changed, you can do it a year from now.

      If you are feeling any pressure to respond, then you should also feel confident you are being manipulated. Pressure and time limits and implied threats that you are the one dropping the ball or causing the current hurt by not responding and reconciling are all indications that your STBEX has not really changed at all.

      • “He may be sincere–but he is sincere in his desire not to lose his comforts.”

        I was free as soon as I wrapped my head around that. I finally, finally, finally trusted that he sucked.

        • Einstein,
          that statement about sincerity hit home with me also. One of the few times I
          agreed to him coming in the house to “get something”, he looked around for a
          moment and said “I miss my home”.

          • What’s downright treacherous, is them saying things like that knowing they’re just playing us. No thought at all for our well-being….just “what can I say to get what I want.” Using our love and desperation to believe them, against us.

            That was a HARD but necessary pill to swallow.

            Yep, they sincerely don’t want to lose their cake.

        • one i have posted on my bedroom wall


    • DefyingGravity, when they show you who they are BELIEVE THEM. Do not break NC, for if you do, going back to NC is much harder. I’m so sorry he did this to you yet again. It is painful. But like my wonderful therapist told me ”believe ACTIONS not WORDS. They can and will say anything. Pay close attention to what they are DOING.”. I hope this helps and I am sorry for you pain. I’ve been there before too. Hugs.

  • I hate to admit this, but my OW recently posted on her blog that she had scored an “appearance” on the English equivalent of Jerry Springer. Talk about OW putting her fat patoutie in everyone’s face….

    I actually watched the show and laughed my head off at the stupid cow…being interviewed how she and Ex didn,t have sex for a year after she gave birth because she “didn’t feel like it”. I bet my bottom dollar y’all could guess what HE was up to during that time.

    What’s to forgive? We all need to simply admit we made a bad choice of partner, got duped, and as CL says, disengage. That includes the OW/OM.

      • Lol, LJ,
        He was really just using me for what he could steal. She was his accomplice.

        I learned a hugely valuable lesson about never letting loneliness cloud one’s decisions. I took on a project guy I thought had potential if only someone could rescue him from the “terrible experiences” of his past. Silly me. Nothing to be proud of; I am fortunate to be alive to tell about it [quote from investigating officers]. However, I write about it if only to caution other single/divorced/widowed folks that there are a lot of predators out there looking to snag innocent, trusting chumps. This is why we need to listen to CL and fellow chumps…to toughen up.

        • A similar story to mine, Marci, and all of my family thought my husband was a predator but I wouldn’t see it.

          He never worked, we lived on my assets, the stress was killing me. At the very least, I thought, we’d be on equal footing now that my money had run out. I thought somehow we’d rise out of our mess together because I thought he was a lot of things, but not a cheater!

          Talk about naive. Instead he began to go out seven nights a week, found another woman, and emotionally removed himself from me. When I look at the absolute facts of our case, I realize I may have been conned.

          He’d never admit it, of course, but he has to keep up the charade in order to live with himself. You’re right, chumps like you and I “need to listen to CL and fellow chumps to toughen up.” Nothing wrong with being tough — in fact it feels fantastic.

    • Marci….she’s going to be on Jeremy Kyle? That is genius viewing for you!

      • Yep, she was on. I watched so I could record her fat jiggling chin and bad teeth for future laughs. So therapeutic in a twisted sort of way. So affirming to see Kyle rip her to shreds with a velvet hammer…she soaked up the attention and didn’t seem to clock that she had just been made to eat sh** in front of millions of viewers. Schadenfreude never felt so good. I slept well that night.

        • Oh God, Marci – I hope you can post the clip. I’m not sure Jeremy Kyle is?

          • I won’t post the clip since I already have a restraining order against her. I cannot afford to do anything that would make me look as though I’m harassing her…otherwise I’d give out her blog as well. Not to worry, the loving couple are likely already self destructing since it seems they haven’t had sex for the past year. I have no doubt these folks will not meet any good end.

            When I finally got into Ex’s email records by keylogging my own computer which he used, I truthfully found email records of his correspondance with OVER 300 callgirls on the website I’ve mentioned here in the past. He was a huge sex addict who stole and begged to get the money to romp in hotel rooms with teenage prostitutes. Threesomes, combo’s…you name it, I was truly shocked at how twisted people can be. Part of my learning process if nothing else.

            Now he has his own partner in crime (he pimps her out to support the two of them) and she herself has only temporarily quit the sex trade to have a baby. Poor child. Its mother will soon be back at the trade because she knows nothing else.

            Jeremy Kyle is the English equivalent of Jerry Springer.

            • My God. The levels these people are at is truly mind boggling. I’m so sorry that you had to find out such horrible details.

  • I wrote a “highly theoretical” post this morning on yesterday’s “forgiveness troll” responses.

    I think “forgiveness” is used by the RIC and others as if it were a hall pass. “Forgive” the cheaters, let them stay in the marriage even if they don’t acknowledge they have committed offenses, and the marriage is “reset.” That’s ass-backwards and ignores both the problems of broken trust and dishonesty and the damage done to the marriage. First the cheater must acknowledge not only the cheating but the attendant character problems that supported it–lying, sneaking, arrogance, lack of trustworthiness, indifference to suffering and pain, selfishness. etc. Then the cheater has to work on fixing those character problems and demonstrating a change in character over time, including a renewed commitment of time and affection for the spouse and family and a commitment to repairing the broken trust in the marriage. Without that, there’s no marriage anyway. For the chump to “forgive” within the marriage before that has happened is just to enable the cheater to continue the behaviors that broke the marriage in the first place. This is not any different than good parents disciplining a child who has done something that hurt other people. You love the child; that is not affected by the child’s actions. But you can’t “forgive” the offense without allowing the natural consequences to occur that will help the child learn how damaging his actions were. The child has to earn back the trust. The parents that “forgive” without any evidence of remorse or changed character and behavior will just see the same thing again, only worse. Forgiveness should not be a pre-condition of reconciliation. Remorse and change can be part of a process of reconciliation that makes forgiveness within marriage a possibility. Otherwise, chumps can leave the cheater, and move on to letting go of the betrayal, the marriage, and the cheater and “come out the other side a better person.”

    • And I agree with CL that I am more likely to see a herd of unicorns than narcissists who are really sorry for their actions or who are capable of change.

  • Again I agree totally. Forgiveness is what kept me in the perpetual cycle of abuse. For me an apology consists of stopping whatever you are doing to hurt me not just spouting the words and forgiveness comes from seeing the efforts on the other person’s part and not rubbing their nose in it forever more. But to a cheater forgiveness says, “Alrighty then, I got away with that, what more can I get away with.”
    My ex came crying to me after a year of no contact and said, “I always loved you, didn’t I tell you that?” I told him he said a lot of things he didn’t mean. Then he got angry and said, “You know it kinda is your own fault I hurt you. You kept taking me back. Most women would have told me to fuck off long ago” Yeah I kept taking him back because he kept giving me fairy dusk apologies.
    Another time before we split we were fighting about him screwing around and he said he was sick of “this” . I said, “YOU are sick? you are the one who’s been screwing around for years and had personal ads and shit.” and he asked “And what did you do?” I said, “I stayed” and he looked at me with disgust and said, “Exactly” and went back to reading his magazine.
    Forgiveness for that son of a bitch? when hell freezes over. I figure God can punish me for not forgiving him, and I think God will understand.
    But I don’t give a shit what he is doing or who he is doing as long as he stays away from me. I am happy and moving on with my life, I have reach meh.

      • Friend of mine said a lovely thing the other day when we were discussing forgiveness in this context. You referenced God, and so did my friend, but really you could substitute any kind of higher power or order. Just thought I’d share this (slightly paraphrased and condensed for our purposes here, as this was responses in a string of texts):

        “You can forgive without putting yourself in harm’s way. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you must put yourself in that person’s power, once they’ve hurt you and knowing they will do it again. When you think about forgiveness, don’t forget to show yourself some mercy too. I don’t think God wants up to seek out occasions and circumstances that hurt us.”

        • I’ve actually heard that sermon. In fact, the message was that we couldn’t be our best selves while stuck in such toxic situations.

        • sorry, I don’t get the point of forgiving someone if it does not change the way you deal with that person in the future.

          “Moving on” ; improving our life is the most important goal after breaking up a relationship. If that is achieved, what’s the big deal of saying –and especially just to your self — “I forgive him.” We know, quite often that they don’t even care. How’s that for pssing in your cornflakes?

          Those who defend “forgiving” claim that we are not to expect a change in their behavior. So the question remains, what is the point? what do we gain?

          Reeva Steenkamp’s mother publicly said that she forgave Oscar for murdering her daughter. She hasn’t asked for the trial to stop. I can only imagine that Oscar is concerned with only thing now….. avoiding jail term. (but I could be wrong.)

  • I just love, love, love this:

    “I don’t wish them dead. I wish to disengage. I want peace in my life.”

    Love it! And in two days, the Goat Rodeo that is my former spouse and his life moves to the opposite coast. I find that geographic distance also gives me peace.

    And this blog– this blog has taught me how to seek peace and value myself in it. Thank you, CL, one and all.

  • Preach it girl, preach it! Ere, um…I mean “Preach it Chump Lady, preach it”!!!

  • Thank you CL; excellent post.

    What does forgiveness look like for me a year out from Dday? It’s not about forgiveness to me. It’s about finding myself and MY life again. If I am a healthy productive and kind person; that’s my way of forgiving. I’m living my life, taking on new adventures and the cheater did not rob me of my ability to love, travel, work and be an all round decent human being. I’m wiser, cautious and yes, waaaayyyy less smug but do I forgive my cheater? Not really. He’s still an ass with lousy life skills and he doesn’t care one way or the other about my forgiveness so to be honest, I don’t spend much time worrying about it.

    Forgiveness is a personal thing. I would never preach to anyone about forgiveness and when or how to do that in the face of abuse and despair. I know that it’s not necessary for me to “forgive” my cheater to have a good life. I don’t beat myself up about not “forgiving”, instead I focus on moving away from my cheater further and further and further and I am finding that, really just like CL says, there is a good (better) life out there. If that’s “forgiveness”, I’m doing really well.

  • “Just forgive. Let it go. Be the bigger person. You can’t do that? You’re BITTER.”

    For many months I struggled with that being the word that describes me from here on out and it terrified me. Anything but “BITTER”! A small, ugly word that sums up so succinctly that I’m not being forgiving fast enough or moving on with my life with a smile on my face fast enough to suit someone else’s timetable.

    This website has helped me to see that I had every right to be angry and angry is not bitter so fuck you!

    I feel no need to forgive my husband but I do try to forgive myself. I have so much regret and shame to deal with. Yes, I’m fully awake and aware for the first time (perhaps in my life), but with that comes the knowledge that if I had made better choices I would not be where I am at today. A bitter pill, but I am swallowing it and finding peace.

    I’m so grateful for CL and all of Chump Nation.

    • Your comment made me think of Brene Brown’s research. Are you familar with it? She has some TED talks and several books.

  • Don’t forget what Bishop Tutu also said about injustice:

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

  • My ex-husband is a clinical sociopath, so he would not have given three sheets to the wind if I forgave him or not. Furthermore, as you and Bishop Tutu point out, he never acknowledged the offense.

    Clarissa Pinkola Estes says something along the lines that forgiveness is not absolving blame or responsibility but rather there is nothing you want from the person any longer.

    “How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.”

    • I think the best we can get to is indifference. I don’t wish him an eternity in hell, but I can’t honestly say I wish him well. But that’s ok…..he never much cared what I thought.

      I’ll never forget what I went through, but I’m not bitter and angry anymore. Maybe the poison left me when it stopped serving a useful purpose. Meh is good!

  • I just want to say that I did Desmond Tutu’s 30-Day Forgiveness Challenge and it was incredible. He is without a doubt the master when it comes to the forgiveness process. What I liked about it was the fact that when you do the challenge you do NOT focus on the person who has hurt you the most. You start with a lesser offense and you work through the process by trying to forgive a hurt that isn’t so emotionally volatile. The other thing I agreed with was the premise that forgiveness, like learning any new skill, is something you have to *practice.* Learning to accept requires practice. Learning to let go requires practice. Learning to become a better person who is not consumed by hate and anger takes practice. This isn’t going to just drop out of the blue into your consciousness.

    Half of the challenge is about the process of forgiving another person and the other half is about forgiving yourself. I encourage anyone who is struggling with this notion to go to challenge website (just Google it) and read the intro pages. This is a not a touchy-feeling process or a pop psychology exercise; it’s one born of deep wisdom and suffering and that in my view gives it validity.

  • I love your blog and the nation’s collective wisdom. You (plural) have saved my life. I am so sorry Chump Lady, but in all your great wisdom, this one I disagree with you and Bishop Tutu. Lets be clear, just because I disagree with you, does not mean I am siding with RIC. In fact, I am not siding with anyone. My recent discovery is just worth sharing in case it helps someone else. I hated my cheater very much. Not just for my pain and me vomiting in the fetal position on the bathroom floor all those dark nights. Not just for the many lives, children, friendships, marriages and financial ruin she caused to so many. Forget all those victims for a second, the hurt and pain inflicted on my children alone is indescribable. I guess this is no surprise, but she has never shown an ounce of remorse and will likely never acknowledge that she has committed any offense. She is the ultimate blame-shifting narc.

    Forgiveness for me begins… Chump Lady and the nation saved my life. I got to meh after about 1 year and I was finally free. I honestly don’t care what she does, she has no power over me and I don’t even think about her any more. I have moved on and I am am happy. I had technically reached the form of forgiveness described in this post. On a recent date, this amazing lady (to whom all credit is actually being given) asked me about my ex and I shared very little, but enough for her to see that I despised her. My date then told me that I really need to forgive my ex. What??? She’s repentant. How can I. Besides, why should I even bother, since she is gone? I asked. She told me that if I love my children, I will want to forgive my ex. She explained forgiveness to me like I had never heard before. She said forgiveness is purely a “decision inside yourself” – thats it. There is no ceremony. You do not need to talk to anyone or perform any ritual. Its simply a decision and most certainly requires no acknowledgement on the part of the perpetrator that they have committed an offense, despite what bishop Tutu thinks or would like.

    What is this decision? The decision really is to “no longer hate her” and begin to “wish her well”. What!!!! Seriously – wish her well??? She went on to tell me that meh is a great, but does not remove her from my life. There will be graduations, weddings, grandchildren, etc. She is part of my life forever. But the real nerve she touched was when she said my ex’s well being is a direct function of my children’s well being. She said to me that to forgive her really meant to wish my ex success and the best for her and even help her get there if needed. What!!! She went on and told me to pray for my ex in front of my kids and ask for blessings on her life and when my children see the hatred is gone in me, they will know my pain is gone, they will also begin to heal too. She told me if my ex is in pain or struggling or hurting, my children will too. If I want my kids to be happy, their mother needs to be happy (and father of course).

    Ouch!!! This was a tall order. But, I love my children more than life itself and they have been hurt so much that I made that seemingly impossible decision inside of myself. It actually wasn’t so hard. I did it and it was the best thing ever. There has been remarkable improvement in my children (and me). Peace reigns in my life and my loved ones. My ex may forever be selfish and a cheater, but I forgive her (on-going) and unfortunately, my children are a part of her and their well being comes ahead of me and my contempt. Its so worth it. Forgive them. You can only gain.

    • I completely respect your approach; it sounds like your kids are in their formative years and that is an important consideration. My kids were older and, not being religious, I dealt with my kids a bit differently. I never wanted them to hate their dad and, honestly, he never did all the awful stuff to them that I read about here. He has always honored his financial obligations and been involved in their lives. BUT, he betrayed me in a deep and fundamental way and I honestly feel no need to fake a forgiveness I do not feel. This does not affect my kids’ relationship with their father, nor have they “acted out” because of it. I can now look at what happened to be as a kind of natural disaster and would no more forgive my X than I would a hurricane. It happened, it was awful, but I survived it and that is all that matters to me. If he desires forgiveness, he will have to take that up with whatever higher authority he chooses. I do not view it as my job to be responsible for his forgiveness. The best he can expect from me is calm indifference.

      • This is my approach Louise. I like how you describe forgiving a hurricane….it’s a good analogy for me. Thank you.

      • The divorce has felt like surviving a man made disaster to me, like crawling out from under the wreckage of an accident where the other person was playing with their cell phone instead of watching the road. It was a disaster that affected my life because someone else lost control of theirs.

        • Lyn: “It was a disaster that affected my life because someone else lost control of theirs.” Spot on.

  • I have not forgiven him, nor will I ever.

    Throughout the speech, the separation and the divorce process people kept telling me I needed to forgive him to “get past it.” Five years later people still tell me I need to stop harboring my anger and “let go.” Bear in mind these are people who never had to deal with a cheating spouse, his whore and a divorce. I thought I was losing my mind or was not being a nice lady because I refused to forgive him for destroying life as we knew it for me and my kids.

    The therapist had an interesting take on it. He told me I didn’t have to forgive him. He explained that sometimes people do things to us that are so heinous and the hurt to massive it is impossible to forgive them. Instead he suggested that I simply push him to the back of my life. To give him zero space in my head. Essentially to flush a piece of shit from my brain. It took me awhile, but I did it.

    Now, when it comes to my ex it’s as though he’s a stranger. I have no interest in him, his whore, his new life, or any other part of him.

    Right after the divorce he called me to tell me it wasn’t fair that I was holding a grudge. Grudge?? Was he fucking kidding me? He told me it wasn’t healthy for me to hold a grudge against him. Perhaps not, but then again it wasn’t very healthy for me when I developed cervical cancer as a result of his “other” life. Nor was it healthy when I dropped 40 lbs. in 6 weeks and had to be hospitalized for dehydration. It wasn’t healthy when I didn’t sleep more than 10 minutes a night for 4 months.

    It’s all part of their narc delusions – when making their plans they expect that we will forgive them. That we’ll accept their new life. After all, they are the great and powerful Oz. Everyone, including us, will be happy for them because they really didn’t do anything THAT bad.

    Forgive him? Nah. When it comes to a narc, apathy is so much more effective.

    • Yeah– mine says, “All I can expect from you is venom.” I tell him, “oh, it’s not venom, it’s the truth. Sorry (not sorry) if the truth stings.”

      They don’t get it because they don’t want to. Why waste time and emotional energy “forgiving” them? They don’t regret, why should we forgive?

      • I got the same thing, and I told him that stating facts isn’t “being ugly”. If it sounds that way, it’s because it was….it WAS VERY, VERY ugly, and looked 100X more ugly from where I was sitting. He didn’t buy it…didn’t fit in with his narrative that what he did (repeatedly!) just wasn’t a big deal.

    • Most cheaters are sub-human, IMO. It is as if they never even notice the weight loss or other visible effects on us. Just not capable of empathy.
      I lost 45 lbs in 2 months.
      Most folks from work thought I had cancer.

      • Mine TOLD me that I needed to “get over my bad attitude toward him”. I paraphrased a line from the Star Trek movie…Mr. Spock says, “I am exhibiting several different attitudes. To which are you referring”. Can you figure why I would have a “bad attitude ” toward him after experiencing betrayal with ho-worker, physical violence toward me, lying, blame shifting, gaslighting, etc., with no remorse or concern exhibited by him. Sheesh!! I am so tired of it always being about him, him, him. MEH here I come.

  • My cheater ex is one of those who apologized sincerely and always intended to be faithful until he couldn’t. Like someone who beats up his wife and sends her flowers the next day, cries and begs for forgiveness and really means it at that moment but could not sustain it for long until the next “trigger” (from Whores R Us in our case) comes along. Still extremely remorseful today (although he remains with the final OW) and word has it he has a hard time moving on without my forgiveness. I laughed out loud when I heard that. I won’t even talk to him – I have way better things to do with my time.

    • “Like someone who beats up his wife and sends her flowers the next day, cries and begs for forgiveness and really means it at that moment but could not sustain it for long until the next “trigger”…”

      Because cheating truly is abuse. I know it’s been said time and again here, but for some reason we chumps tolerate serial abuse in the form of cheating, when we probably wouldn’t if it were serial beatings. (for the most part; obviously people do tolerate physical abuse as well). Psychologically I can’t understand why we make the distinction. It’s helpful to me to compare the cheating to episodes of abuse; makes the remorseful episodes easier to withstand.

      • At least hitting is honest, I mean, you know what you are getting. They aren’t hiding behind lies and plausible deniability.

        The problem is that people who have never experienced it can only see past the “jealousy” aspect of cheating. Like, “oh….it must suck knowing your guy has been with another woman”. Uh….yeah….and that’s the frigging easy part! Virgins fail to understand, or even BEGIN to understand, how many levels of suck there is to this.

        It’s toxic emotional abuse, period. It’s earth shattering and soul destroying.

        • Right! Seriously the LEAST of my issues is that he was with another woman. The complete betrayal, total deception, and upheaval of my reality is far, far worse.

        • THIS !!! very well said.

          it is soooOOOOooo fucked up to cheat on soooOOOoooo many different levels, emotionally, physically, spiritually, heart crushing, immobilizing, pain and disbelief. most people who havent been threw it never even get close to the “real” pain we are dealing with. like you said the jealousy is the easy part, i know in my head SHE is nothing. but the fact that HE did this to me. (AGAIN)

          and i try not to even THINK how the fuck it started in the first place. his smiling and flirting and shit that made HER think she had a chance with him. it hurts to much to deal with even now, 7 months later.

  • I read “Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do” by Henry Cloud (Christian psychologist) and the very first chapter is “Never go back to what hasn’t worked.” Some of the key points that resonated with me were:

    1) “If you go backward, you are going backward. If redemption were to occur, something must be different. A second chance is not a repeat of the first chance.” Unfortunately, in my desire to keep my family whole, I didn’t demand this. I kept hoping he would somehow change. Hope (or rather wish) doesn’t bring change. Real, internal, hard work does.

    2) “When a person or a situation has truly changed and is worthy of our investment, we will be able to see tangible reasons to believe.” Alas, in my case, I spackled my way through my false reconciliations. I learned the hard and painful way that just because cheater ex was sorry did not mean he has changed even though he wanted to be different.

    3) “Sorry is not good enough. Something has to be different.” Words are useless. Look for actions, consistent good actions as Tracy has pointed out numerous times.

    And my favorite lines:
    “Someone being “sorry” is not enough; just missing the good parts of what was is not reason enough to return; going back to assuage the pain – temporarily, mind you – is not enough. Life is meant to be forward moving, not backward. Make sure that if you “go back,” you’re not going back to the same thing.”

    “Remember: there is a reason it did not work. If you are going back, make very, very sure that the reason is no longer there.”

    • 3) “Sorry is not good enough. Something has to be different.”

      This one hit me. I’ve heard a couple of “Sorry”s over the past couple of years.

      Uniformly they were “I’m Sorry, BUT…”;

      “I’m sorry, I know this is hurtful and that is not my intent”

      “I’m sorry. I sometimes do crazy things when I’m bombed.”

      Forgiveness (unicorn forgiveness) requires from the cheater real remorse, really being sorry for what they have done, and doing what is needed to make sure they never do it again. And more.

      False apologies are probably worth a whole post.

      • Agree! False apologies or apologies that put the blame back on the chump. God did I get a lot of those! “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Must be the most common.

        • that was my response to him for a while. everytime he would try to blame something on me, i would tell him “i am sorry you feel that way” sometimes i would try to explain why it didnt happen the way he was trying to tell it. but in the end, it was just me saying i am sorry you feel that way

  • I find it ironic that the betrayed victim is encouraged to forgive cheating–which is a GRAVE offense– yet the cheater often brings up ‘offenses’ that (s)he hasn’t forgiven US –or anyone else–for. Consider the cheater who cheated because you didn’t thank them “enough” for taking out the trash back in April 1993. Or the cheater who cheated because of his family-of-origin issues (his parents left him with an aunt that he hated for 2 weeks while they went on vacation, when he was 10 years old). While some of the gripes may be legitimate, aren’t they really, in fact, in some cases, simply holding a grudge?

    Yet they expect us to INSTANTLY forgive THEM.

    Yeah. I think it’s pretty clear that cheaters can be some of the WORST kind of hypocrites when it comes to forgiveness.

    • And where in the hell is the insistence that the cheater accept responsibility and make amends….doing whatever it takes, for however long it takes. That’s what really pisses me off with the RIC. It’s as if contrition is a mute and useless point.

      There’s no integrity in blaming the victim. It’s just victim bashing.

  • I forgave the cheating and much more within 4 months of DDay and I said I wanted a divorce, then he really hurt me. What he did when he found I would divorce him, that I cannot forgive. How should I forgive someone who would kill me if he thought he could get away with it? I saw it in his eyes as he held the gun, I cannot not forget, I cannot forgive. I have done all I can to be safe from this person and yet so long as he lives I have a corner of fear in my mind that cannot be cleared. It is not paranoia, it is contained. I have done, and continue to do everything I can to be safe from him. And I can be at peace mostly, so long as my PO is in place. Unfortunately my state considers 2 years a “permanent protective order”, so this March I must face him in court again to renew it, not knowing if I will get that again. Knowing full well that if I do not get it, he will no longer have any fear of jail to keep him away from me. He proved to me that fear is the only thing that stops him. I forgive him his mental illness, I am sorry he can never truly know what love is. I also wish he would die so I could have complete peace, complete freedom from fear of what he will do. I would like to see a day when I don’t have to look up when a car drives by my home, when a branch falling on the roof doesn’t wake me and force me to search for him. I forgive him and I wish he would die, now, tonight.

    • Dat – I’m so sorry about what this asshole did to you. You probably know you have pstd – I certainly would. I can’t imagine being threatened physically like that. It would affect me the rest of my life. Any odd sound. A bad dream always arising…it’s cruel.
      I agree – he should die. Tonight.
      {{{{Jedi Hugs}}}}

    • Dat: so sorry for your pain. I can’t imagine having to endure such ongoing fear. You are amazingly strong and resilient!

    • I don’t have the words, Dat, but I have you in my heart. Big Canadian hugs.

      • Thank you all for the support, I’ve overcome most of the PTSD Shit through EMDR, but not all. I am in a good place, this topic just strikes a nerve because so long as he is alive I am not safe and so I have an issue with forgiveness, to forgive totally I would have to feel safe. I know I’m not the only person that’s dealing with this. I am not having a pity party, I am no victim. I simply am not going to disbelieve my certainty that he is still a danger, and so when I say I wish him dead, that is not bitterness, it simply is. Thanks again for understanding

        • So sorry, Dat….the most many of us have to worry about is them sniffing from time to time. Prayers to you.

  • It’s rare that a cheater is not all about forgiving themselves. The great majority of cheaters justify cheating, and the cheating is based on their own bitterness. Cheaters hang on to any slight that gives them the green light to cheat. Cheaters are infamous in regard to their so called unmet needs and cheating is their great reward in a skewed sense.

    Cheaters, cheater apologists, and the industry of reconciliation are one big bag-oh-shit.

    • YES!! isnt it funny how they NEVER seem to forgive? (they never seem to be thankful for the shit you do either but that is a different topic)

      mine actually brought up sh*t i did 10 YEARS AGO!! to justify his actions this april. he was telling my 16 year old daughter, well i dont know why she got mad. she used to go out to the bar with her friend, why is it so wrong when i do it. does he HONESTLY believe that sheit he tells other people? i know he has people who believe him so why bother.

      i had to tell DD that #1 that was 10 years ago!! when i worked in only friday and saturdays # 2 that was before baby #5 #3 i did not go to the bar with my husband, he was invited to go with #4 we stayed at my gf who i knew 10 years before my husband and he was invited to still go over so if i was there alone it was because HE choose not to go #5 i always called and i always answered my phone ever time he called and lastly i always came home around midnight, a few night were 2 in the morning and boy did i kiss his ass to make up for it. lets not forget that there were NEVER any men at her house, i wasnt flirting or crying about how bad my husband was, i wasnt opening up my legs to the first man who made me wet, i NEVER NEVER even thought about doing that. if ever there were males there, i didnt go. plain and simple.

  • Just came across an email I was erasing from stbx. He said he’s forgiving himself and hope I’d forgive myself too as it would help my anger. Damn, but too bad I erased it before I got it posted here. It was from April. I believe my answer was, you only said you were sorry for ‘my mind-set’, nothing else to be sorry about. Hell, I can’t forgive on that. Well, as long as he forgives himself eh? who the fuck cares?

    • Cheaters are big on self forgiveness. It’s bizarre that if a cheater gives themselves cheap forgiveness, (disguised as new age babble), is used as a passive aggressive tactic to cheapen the pain they’ve caused.

    • Yeah, he let me know he had forgiven me. I think my response was “Seriously?????”

      When I sit back and think how warped your thinking has to be to actually buy the shit they sell themselves…well…..I almost feel sorry for them. I don’t though. I’m just grateful that I’m mentally and emotionally healthy.

    • “No repentance = no forgiveness. Period”

      Wow, Barbara. I’ve always said that there is genius in simplicity. Your statement is pure genius!

      • and here i was thinking the next time they start the craziness saying I DID THIS and IT MY FAULT THAT, i was going to text back “i forgive you” hahaha i was thinking it would really throw them off huh.

        but you have a good point here, no repent no forgive

  • I am certain that I will never ever receive an apology or even the truth about what happened. So, Ido not forgive my a-hole XWs. I wish them the worst in life and, if ever presented with the chance to pay them back, I will. And, I am very happy, and love my GF and my kids and am enjoying the heck out of life.\It never made any sense to me, this concept that one is held prisoner by failing to forgive. I function well, enjoy life, laugh, play etc.
    I just have a corner of my mind that I can tap into where I can verify that I hate my XWs and wish them the worst.
    They are incredibly cruel , evil people, doing harm and acting dishonestly in many areas of their lives, not just on the fidelity front.

    • “They are incredibly cruel , evil people, doing harm and acting dishonestly in many areas of their lives, not just on the fidelity front.”

      See, that’s the extra rub here, Arnold. We are facing profoundly disordered and destructive people. To “forgive” and let them back into our lives in any small way, even as “friends,” is simply untenable and downright stupid. We know we are vulnerable to them, why would we allow them back into a position where they can hurt us some more? And I think forgiving in the manner some describe would be doing just that.

      • “we know we are vulnerable to them””
        I feel just that way, every time he sends an email, tries to talk to me. I swear I can
        hear/feel the manipulation by the sound and tone of his voice. sickeningly sweet.
        I can’t even look at him without feeling vulnerable and manipulated. It’s a horrible
        feeling that I would beat myself up over after every time we would have contact. You
        know the feeling. I am trying so hard to go NC, and saving every email he is sending
        me for future reference. The fake remorse and constant manipulation is never ending.

    • I think the ‘need to forgive’ is a personal one, perhaps based on one’s ability to compartmentalize negative feelings. In my case, they contaminated everything in my life, so I had to find a way to put it behind me. I no longer want to hurt him – and that is my forgiveness.

      In any case, forgiveness wasn’t a magic cure. It evolved out of time and distance.

  • What the unscathed do gooders with deep wisdom to spare do not realize that the abuse doesn’t stop just because you are officially divorced. My ex was easier to handle when we were married. How can you forgive when you are actively being verbally abused and slandered?

    • Good point. When ex and I were still married he needed me and things from me so he was willing to at least attempt to pretend to be a decent person. Now that we’re divorced and I no longer buy his act? He is a complete asshole and incredibly verbally abusive at times. The second I don’t go along with something he goes from zero to sixty with the insults and the bullshit. And the things he tells other people? Unreal. I ignore it but damn, it is wearing.

  • It will take twenty years to forgive what my ex did to me and my children. I wish it was just fucking another woman but that POS actually got a pt job for two years (in addition to working his FT job) with a family court so he could figure out exactly how to screw us over financially. He actually spent my son’s entire college fund, stole my daughter’s college savings, and took our joint savings to take one of many vacations with his POS Schmoopie. The last two years of my marriage were hell and money became a big issue. His spending was crazy, we even refinanced the house because we “needed” to. I now know why. I am at the point where I am glad he lives nowhere near me as I truly believe he meant to harm me so he would not have to share his pension. That’s how much of a hard on he had for his new love and she looks and behaves a lot like ugly face in that NYTimes article. I do think Cheaters are a special breed of fucked up. Hard to forgive that. I no longer tolerate mean people at all. I call poor behavior when I see it and have eliminated toxic people from my life. I will never have a relationship with him ever and if asked I tell why. He can go fuck off. I do not wish him dead though. He is the father of my children and I hope they learn to recognize a fraud when they see it. My youngest once said her father disappeared when her older sister began high school and she is right. Looking back he was so checked out. His friends sucked too. I don’t think he surrounded himself with anyone with real values. As for me I am doing well. Working part time, looking for a full time job, doing things I love, and spending as much time with family (those I love! Lol) as possible. Life is too short. That is my meh. People always told me he could never hide my light from the world. I struggled with that but did what I could. I am happy now to be free.

  • Love this discussion about forgiveness. I put a lot of pressure on myself to forgive, even on D-day. The last thing I wanted to be was a bitter old woman. To my dismay I found it a lot harder to forgive than I thought it would be. Finally I decided to re-budget my energy toward loving myself and building my future instead of focusing on what happened in the past. That’s the closest I’ve been able to get to forgiveness and I’m ok with that for now.

    • Good choice to focus on yourself, Lyn! I hope to be able to do that more and more as I progress, but as you know it’s hard. You are mighty!

    • I think that’s where healing begins, when the focus isn’t 24/7 on them, it, what they did, how much it hurts, how much it sucks, blah through agonizing blah. We decide to start living our lives without them.

      Eventually, him/it/her stops being the focal point of your life, you get over it, you don’t wish him dead (or worse), and boom! You’ve reached forgiveness.

      • i am getting there. where is not the focal point of my thoughts every day.

        not seeing him has done wonders for me. he is making NC easy, his chewbacca is making it even easier. but i thank GOD i dont see him. i know if i saw him, and had to talk one on one to him, i would fall. i still love the man. i love his eyes, i love his body, i love the way his voice sounds. my heart would race and get butterflies in my tummy every time i saw him. He is my ADDICTION. i honestly dont know why SEEING him has this effect on me, some kind of jedi mind trick? but my reaction to SEEING him is always bad. i think that is how he always got to me, his words were saying one thing, but i would just melt in his presence and my mind would go all googly. it wasnt until hours or days later i would think WTF!?!!? That didnt even make sense.

        i dread the day he pulls his head out of HER ass and realizes he wants to see the children or worse that we need to talk. i hope it is far far down the way. i am already stressing christmas because i know he will buy them gifts (disney dad) and want to be able to give them himself and be there when they open them so he can reep in his rewards and their gratitude. i still havent decided what to do but put it in Gods hands for now.

        my XH was really a bad guy, i knew he was trying most of the time. i knew he wanted better and was honestly trying to be better. idk when he decided to quit (sometime last year thats for sure). i do believe he really feels bad about the way he treated me and the boys. i believe he realizes how much he fucked up and how much he lost. i just hope that he keeps it to himself. because i dont know what i will do if he tries to come back.

        So for now, i am grateful to chewbacca and her craziness. she keeps him away from me and that works for me

  • I’m not able to forgive my xh and apparently he doesn’t think he needs forgiveness anyway because he believes that God himself “approves” of what he did as he was only “correcting the biggest mistake of his life” and once cruelly told me that ” marrying me was a sin”.

    Without all the background details, we lived together 3years before marrying, and he never said he was unhappy for over 20 years. According to him I was a “great wife, best friend and we had a wonderful relationship” but he was “NEVER in love with me.”

    You cannot feel anything for these f’ckd up people except pity. That is where I’m at now and I don’t believe I will ever forgive him for what he did to me. The closest I may get one day is forgiving him for being so f’ckd up in the first place.

    • Just another idea I’ve been processing through lately is that itfeels like my xh raped and abused and stole most of my past memories and certainly my future hopes and dreams. In fact someone said it is the crime of soul murder. When some stranger rapes or robs you it is a vile experience, yet when someone you know and trust and LEAST expects does you this way, it seems as with the INTENTION of the act, not to be forgivable.

      • I agree Spirit. Cheaters do nothing ‘illegal’ by doing what they do, yet the destruction to the soul is enormous and the ripple effects are many. I think any trauma damages the psyche. I’ve had a few traumas in my life but being cheated on was the most hurt I have ever felt.

        Mostly it’s because you have put your trust and love in this one person. I dabbled a little with soul retrieval a few years back when I felt really broken – I went to a shaman. It helped me at the time. It did not fix everything but it was really important for me at the time.

        Hope you recover your sense of self.

      • Spirit this is exactly what I feel. The most upsetting thing to me at this point is that I trusted this person and was vulnerable with them; and yet I was totally, completely unsafe with him and didn’t even know it! That scares me a lot for the future, and freaks me out when I think about the past. How I could be so unsafe, and not even know about it.

        As I’ve said repeatedly, I can forgive the actual physical cheating act much easier than his repeated, calculated decisions to violate my love and trust.

  • I felt profoundly violated by all of the decades of cheating, lies and gaslighting my ex did to me, which was only compounded somehow when he changed overnight on D-day, from a seemingly loving husband and father to a man who just.walked.away….from us all…..

    I would not forgive a man who robbed me, assaulted me, stole from me and my family, and stole the years of my life away. I would not forgive a man who walked up and hurt my children, then left them sobbing and alone, and left them without any support from one of their parents. I certainly will not forgive their father for doing just that.

    No, I do not and cannot forgive. I have moved on, I have a kick-ass life, I am re-married to a wonderful man, my children are coping well and are successful. Forgive so my children will be happier? Pretend so my ex and our friends and acquaintances will think he is an okay guy anyway…so that my ex will be happy in his “new” life with one of his group sex partners…and so that this will somehow help my children be happy? Or even help me be happy(ier)?

    Sorry, with all due respect, fuck that noise.

  • Kelly……
    DITTO!!!….to everything you said! I am not suffering at all by not forgiving. Not one little bit. I have never been happier and I have essentially moved on with my life. I will admit that I sometimes fall back a few steps if I get triggered by something of my past life. For the most part I have healed. My friends and family are happy to see me smiling and happy again. I am finally LIVING my life not existing in it!

    I feel as tho forgiving his cheating, lying and years of emotional abuse would be a grave injustice to me as a person. THAT would hurt me more than the past.

    Fuck that noise indeed!!!!!!!!!

  • All forgiveness got me the last time was more of the same and then some…..
    I admit to holding grudges. Like someone else said here…..grudges are self protection. Meh is a much better coping tool. Eventually the pain lessens and you can move forward. but those memories are etched and I’ll never forget.
    All I got for an apology was a facebook message that said, ” I am sorry for betraying you ”
    Never to my face…..plain and simple coward. Not worth shit!
    And then the excuses, and blame.
    Forgiveness is for the delusional.

  • Chump lady I am so glad I found your site! Everything I typed into Google took me to healing and restoring marriage after an affair and that’s not what I was looking for I wanted to find women who got out!
    But of course I started reading what I found and was beginning to believe I’m suppose to stay in this hell because he is so sorry! ( and I believe he really is but it’s too damn late)
    It took me 6 months to get to the lawyer because I was so devastated and that’s when I found out all our money was gone and all the bills were behind-how could I have been so blind and stupid for 7 months ( although the last 2 months I knew and tried to catch him-well I did) but there is no money for the divorce lawyer and I have been able to pull myself together enough to really look for a job. I’m looking just not as hard as I should be this has destroyed me we were the couple everyone envied and I had no idea there was even a problem? But anyway thanks for you site! Hugs to you!

  • The problem with “forgiving” a cheater is that to them, forgiving them means you are a big, chumpy sucker who let them get away with their cheating. If you forgive them, then stay with them, you have given them a hall pass to cheat again, since after all, you were willing to get over it the first time. They see your forgiveness as weakness, and you can be certain they will never forgive YOU for any of the imagined slights (or for any real human failings) they hold against you.

    I forgave my ex over and over again. I sucked that hopium pipe so hard, my lungs nearly exploded. All that did was show him he could do whatever he wanted, with no fear of real consequences.

  • I believe that this whole forgiveness thing is related to those religious and conservative ( I am conservative BTW, but a product of the 60’s) blowhards that say marriages do not survive now because the “women” are now liberated! That’s right-the women’s movement did this.. Marriages with infidelity do not survive because there has to be more than 1 grown-up in it. Forgiveness has nothing to do with it. We need to save ourselves and our kids! Forgiveness is irrelevant to our happiness and survival.

  • Tracy, how about the OW/OM forgiveness if the cheater ends up with them? Do they “forgive” being “second best”? Do they ever feel “safe” and “whole” on those relationships? Because even if they “win”, I don’t see how they can feel “fulfilled”? I don’t think I would have ever been happy should I had reconciled with the person who abandoned me…I don’t think I would have been happy had I been her either…I think “adultery” leaves trust and resentment issues on everyone involved even on them (the violators)…do they at the end trust? Love? Forgive? On their relationship together?

    • Aren’t successful relationships starting as affairs “unicorns” too?

  • Forgiveness requires:
    acknowledgement – yes something happened,
    apology – I am sorry for what I did,
    amendment – I will change, I will not contact the OM, I will not lie to you anymore, I will not keep secrets from you anymore, and
    atonement – if you give me this chance I will prove to you that you can trust me again. I will make us right again.

    This is what I consider true forgiveness. Anything short of this is bullshit.

  • What makes me laugh is that cheaters and sometimes their families seem to think that they can decide what forgiveness should be. My ex FIL, a cheater himself, texted me one day after dday telling me that the bible speaks of forgiveness. Why do they feel that they can use it to their benefit? It just makes me laugh now. I so wanted to text back that the bible also speaks of thou shall not commit adultery, etc., etc. But I didn’t. He is my elder and has to look himself in the mirror everyday. Best to just walk away. I also find it extremely comical that my ex seems to have so much anger toward me. We don’t speak, just communicate via email regarding the children and that is all but his emails are just pathetic and speak volumes of his poor character. I guess he cannot forgive me for divorcing his lying cheating ass and exposing him for the pathetic human being he is along with the poor excuse for a cop. Hey, maybe he should read the bible and remember it speaks of forgiveness. 😉 LOL

    • kudos to you for your strength!!! that was the first thing in my mind when you said FIL quoted the bible about forgiveness. i dont know how you refrained yourself from NOT texting the bible also says “do not commit adultery” in fact it is one of the 10 commandments.

      i love it when they quote the bible, they only use the parts that fit their stories. otherwise the rest of the bible doesnt seem to count.

      i know i would have texted back

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