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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. 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.

This column ran previously. 

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  • This x10000. I did the Divorce Care course through church. I could not agree less with the unit on forgiveness. I struggled with it and came to the conclusion i forgive myself for staying in the toxic situation as long as I did (4 years of wreckonciliation). Forgiveness for the toxic ex has to come from god and he’ll have to ask god for that. I doubt he has done that because he always DEMANDED my forgiveness without doing anything to earn it. Oh but yes he said he was sorry many many times and didn’t mean it( continued to f#ck around, steal our money , abuse abuse abuse every way possible). Fun times..

    • Gosh 4 years. I feel all hard done by and stuff but I’m thankful the whole thing was over pretty quickly (thankful now). Now I have new things to forgive (accept), the crappy parenting, the fraudulent financials, I think you’ve got to know that there is and end to all the crap if you keep up your boundaries.

      My main advice (to myself mainly) is “buy a new book”. 20 years ago I lent a book out and waited ages for its return, resenting the person. Then I decided to buy a new book and my angry feelings went. The person didn’t matter any more, they didn’t even do anything different, but I did and it was a bargain at 5.99!

      Since then I’ve bought lots of replacement books, and clothes and make up etc. Now I kind of have to “get a new life” it’s a bigger task but it’s the same principle.

      • I. love. this. Thanks MidLifeBlast, exactly what I needed today. And CL, you always seem to post a column that i need to read just at that time.

        • Chumpchops, I get the same feeling the CL knows what we are going throuhg on a particular day! She always comes to my rescue!

        • Chumpchops, I get the same feeling that CL knows what we are going through on a particular day! She always comes to my rescue!

      • I love this “buy a new book” but I would also add my take on this is that I will buy that new book and let go of the anger and resentment that you did not return the original book BUT it should also be noted that I will not lend you another book in the future.

        That is how I feel about EX. I will buy a new book/life but still maintain NC and not allow him to hurt me again. He simply does not exist in the pages of my new book!

      • I love this!!! I have had to have much more forgiveness after my quick divorce. (90 days to single. 4 kids 2-12 yrs old and 14 years of marriage.) It was easy for me the wife to move on from him. Me the mother has had an awful time. How can you not spend time with your kids? How can you tuck in another mans kids but not your own? How can you buy a brand new luxury car but not send child support? And now I just need to say to myself “get a life”. He is never going to be a good Dad. And if I am worried about it…time for me to “get a life”. It helps me redirect.

      • Great analogy!

        Maybe I’m at meh and have “forgiven” because I bought a new book [of Life 2.0, which includes chapters on being in love with and loved by with a non-cheater, being free of daily narcissist abuse, accepting parenting solo, and working hard at my new career]!
        X who????? Oh yeah, him. He’s just somebody I used to know.

      • I hope you don’t have “Buy a New Book” copyrighted because I am about to use this EVERYWHERE! I foresee t-shirts and bookmarks and Facebook cover pic.

        I lead a DivorceCare class and that lesson is coming up soon. I have tried to explain this to my groups by saying, “Forgiveness comes when you get to a place where your new life is so good, you don’t even remember the old.” “Buy a New Book” is quicker to cross stitch! LOVE IT.

      • Midlife Blast, I love the bought a new book story!
        And I will pass along, as the great philosopher Buddy Hackett once said, “I never carry a grudge. Why? Because while I’m carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.”

    • I went through the DivorceCare program as well. To be honest, I do not remember the video on it, but I do remember the class discussion. Forgiveness was simply defined as not wishing the other person harm anymore. Forgiveness does not require trusting that person ever again. Forgiveness does not require reconciling. Forgiveness does not mean that I even need to ever tell the cheater whether I forgive him or not.

      For me, forgiveness is an on-going process. I have come to accept some things (like the cheating and end of our marriage) but still struggle with the lying, hiding income, abandoning his kids, and the money I am having to spend to divorce him. I may never get to a point where I am at peace with everything, but I can keep moving in that direction.

      • I agree, forgiveness is a process. It’s certainly not as easy as I was taught in Sunday school. I think to “forgive” too quickly, before you’ve worked through the trauma, is another way stuffing your emotions down so as not to feel them. I’m suspicious of people who say they’ve forgiven so quickly.

        Every day I would pray to keep moving towards forgiveness — for him and for myself. I do believe in leaving vengeance up to God, or Karma. Seeking vengeance keeps you stuck when you need to focus on rebuilding your life. I kept repeating this scripture to myself:

        “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but leave room for God’s wrath. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. ‘” – Romans 12:19

        My ex felt guilty as hell, even though he tried to blame me for his choices. So I tried to be as pleasant as possible, knowing that deep down it made him feel worse.

          • “the ultimate punishment for cheaters is they have to live the life they created”.

            That’s what I tell myself all the time. Knowing my ex as I do, I can’t help but believe that the barely-literate, gold-digging schmoopy who made him “so happy” a couple of years ago, now has him climbing the walls from boredom and dissatisfaction. 😎

        • Cheater o’Mine is a minister. Once when he felt I’d done something vindictive (aka ‘let him suffer his own consequences’), he quoted, “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” I felt bad until I studied the passage for myself and realized he’d left something out–“Vengeance is mine, I WILL REPAY, says the Lord.” (Spiritual abuse is CoM’s specialty.)

          Forgiveness for me came when I stepped back and let the Lord take care of any necessary vengeance. God knows the real truth and He has better resources for said action. I don’t even need to make suggestions.

          • That’s true, Renee. And God has an even better picture of what was going on than we do. I’ll never know but a little bit of what my ex was doing. I don’t even want to know what all he was up to, I know enough.

          • I would hate to face his wrath when he meets his maker, being a man of God and all….just saying fuckers

      • I use “forgiveness” as a tool to relieve my mind.

        I forgave myself for believing in my husband – because I didn’t know any better.

        I forgave him for wrecking my life because as a subhuman he is unable to face or fix himself.

        It’s not about giving that person another chance at hurting you.

    • Agreed. We chumps tend to be forgiving and have already given second chances to the cheater. Multiple Ddays. Eventually enough is enough. No more forgiveness. Just recognition that this person is toxic and only brings heartache to my life.

    • newlady

      EXCEPT for that section at DivorceCare, I’ve gotten a lot out of the group. But I agree with you about their point, especially when we are at our low points. Yes I do need to forgive myeself a lot, but forgiving a man who treated me SO badly after 35 years of marriage and 3 kids…

      OMG I’m not Mother Teresa.

      BUT CHUMPLADY

      my problem is that when I list or ponder the shit my ex has done, JUST the past 18 months alone, it makes ME sick with angry and fury. Like heart racing. Nightmares, lack of sleep, etc.

      I have to detach from that. I know it’s not “forgiveness” but I need all the help I can get b/c the rage and fury are eating ME alive. And I don’t want to be a bitter woman. I want peace and happiness.

      Help!

      • Doctor’s1st, that rage and bitterness will get better over time. At first it scared me to be so consumed with fury the likes of which I’d never experienced. But it’s a useful emotion because it propels you to a new life. Use it like rocket fuel to break the bond you have with your ex. It takes a lot after so many years. Once you’re in a better place you won’t need that fury any more. You’ll be floating peacefully in a new orbit.

        • Thanks Lyn. I like the analogy of using anger like rocket fuel to propel you to a new peaceful orbit of a new life.

      • I think it’s perfectly OK to allow yourself to be angry about his duplicity and dishonesty. When you’re done with your furious session, let yourself remember that he will no longer be to cruel to you. You don’t have to be around him. Find your own peace within.

        Eventually you will find the anger less and less and your peace more and more.

        Hang in there, Kid.

        • Lynn, Soldier and Georgie,

          thank you.

          I want to let go of the anger. I KNOW it’s bad for ME. I’m meditating a lot and it helps but to always enough.

          And I just got on meds. Today I learned the DOCTOR has been living with Schmoopie for MONTHS (yes he left and as soon as I filed for divorce he JUMPED into her house. — yes I know the affair was longer).

          He sees HER kid, not ours. Lives with them. He Posts pictures of their HAPPY life and that she is the “love of his life.” Said he was “introducing her to the family” (none of our kids, however).

          He earns much more than me, so SHE gets MY lifestyle. I’m aware enough to know he’s going to EVENTUALLY be controlling and get whatever he wants, and resent her and control control control. Then love bomb like SHE’s crazy…

          But still, the injustice of it is, literally, sickening. Like it should be a crime to do this. My kids are aghast.

          I want YOU to tell me how sorry he will be someday. I want YOU to tell me That he will realize he lost a devoted wife who liked sex! And great kids.

          That he lost a woman of substance, like ME. And smart funny kids with so much history…none of which he’ll get back…

          But he may not. And that is a brutal punch in the gut.

          I know in my head that the only thing I can do is to Gain A Life. But tonight, that sounds hollow.

          Fuck fuck fuck.

          I’ll snap out of it…

          • I used to be part of the country club set. The doctors and wives, the CEO’s, etc. Talk about a group feeling entitled. I walked away. After 40 years together and the second DDay after the one I found out about 36 years ago, I just couldn’t delude myself anymore. I’m too old for this shit. I loved my STBX with all I had. It was never enough because he is an empty void that can never be filled. A friend recently told me that I was a hero to some of the women in that group. That they wished they could do what I did. I chose a life over a lifestyle. They could too. I’m no hero. I’m just trying to live this one life I’ve been given as real and authentic as I can. I saw a sign that said “we all eat lies when our hearts are hungry.” At the end of the day, I ask myself what did I really lose. More importantly, I ask myself what I gained. My heart is less hungry these days. My heart is more full from knowing what is real and knowing what is important. I wish you peace.

          • Doctors Wife….Your post really made me sob, understanding what you are going through. It’s so unfair and unbelievable when you have built a good strong family unit, everybody is pretty happy as the kids start growing up and life becomes a secure environment, nurturing them as they become young adults and you and their father showing them values and morals on a daily basis. Sorry, that’s not easy to snap out of for you or your children. He’s a monster to do this to a great home life. Just burn it all up, and for what? This is what I will never understand.

  • Wow! Thank you for that and reverend Tutu’s quote!
    I have been feeling like to be indifferent meant I couldn’t have any anger, so I figured I just could never get this “meh” thing. This made me feel so much better!

    • Archbishop 😉

      There is also another brilliant quote from him which I think applies perfectly to Switzerland ‘neutral’ friends, who stay silent:

      “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.”

      Desmond Tutu

    • I feel like I have to be very vigilant since I have to remain in partial contact because of our minor child. I walk the walk and talk the talk with “indifferent”, meaning I don’t take the bait when he tries to engage and I use my BIFF statements when sharing info…
      But, there is no acceptance and even downright continued lies about his past…he told our kid’s sitter (who just admitted to me) that he was unhappy and the marriage was over for years and “it” just happened.
      So, I am thinking that is the standard line he pulls…not, I lied to Nejla since day one about everything including a cocaine habit, serial cheating and financial impropriety as well as lies about my past like, I was actually married before, “for real” and was not a pro soccer player like I used to tell everyone.
      “Nejla you were just of use. You made me look respectable and reformed and I figured you would be a good mom to take care of the kid, who also makes me look respectable and reformed. Oh well. Sorry.”
      So, this morning’s post is so helpful because there will never be enough fairy dust to forgive that POS.

        • Well, apparently a lot of people;(
          I do believe that he possibly was on the juniors of the team (I cannot get ahold of the juniors league, but was informed that he was not on the team in question just by making a call)…the con was that he was only on the team a few years before blowing out his knee…and he played before teams supported people with injuries (woa is me..sniff, sniff)
          But he started this con before the internet was really big. Once he moved to this country to start over, he told it a lot but has since stopped once I informed him last year that I knew he lied. Now our kid just says that daddy played really well when he was young which was my goal in telling him I knew. I just want to protect her from that one whopper.

      • From what I’ve read, exaggerating & making up up accomplishments are pretty typical of Narc / Socios. Mine, serial cheater from day I met him at 18 claimed to be a D1 college basketball point-guard (never played a day of D1 basketball in his life.) Claims to have a college degree, even to his employer (nope.) Plus hiding alcohol abuse, major porn addiction and I suspect more secret addictions after he took -for recreation-pain pills from our daughter after her surgery. (as in she took 1, he took 19.) There’s more of course, he is so hated professionally (except for the owner whose ass he kisses and the ho-workers) that I hear all sorts of crap from people he has screwed over. (A co-worker of his I barely know reported to me his on-line sex handle of hot blond guy – and get this, he isn’t blond! WTF) . But after a while I didn’t even want to know anymore… the more I learned the stupider I felt for having stuck it out for 25 years with this asshole.

        Basically I learned after 20 years of marriage and 2 near-grown children that his life (and ours by default) was a complete con and lie even beyond the serial cheating. I was just a great cover- innocent and inexperienced, virginal, college educated, goodie 2 shoes…. And I sure as hell am not “forgiving” him one bit. He continues to be a lair, abusive, treats everyone of lower status than him like crap, still screwing me & his kids over financially. Now he is inserting trailer-park whore (who he has already cheated on as reported by another one of his co-workers who hate him) into kids’ lives despite them asking him not to – including, bring her to their sports events and my place of work! For me, no remorse – no forgive is working just fine.

        • I have to add – multiple domestic violence incidences, during our shared house “separation” for a year. (Asshole with 6 figure income wouldn’t move out and me SAHM for 18 years couldn’t afford to because I was cut off financially living like a little mouse in one room of our home.) I will never forgive that either– the things I endured and our kids witnessed during his drunken rages… Ugh! This forgiveness subject riles me up.

          • That is so awful!!!! I hate that guy!!!!
            But I must say, I am totally understanding your pain, as I feel the same way. What a way to knock the trusting nature right out of a person, aye?!

            • Yes!! That’s why your comment stood out to me. Sounds like we have similar cheater-con artists. The worst part for me is the feeling like an idiot for believing that crap so long. (And, makes me terrified to date.)

              • Yes, me too. He even told me how naive I am (when I found out he had been abusing cocaine since the beginning of the 10 years I spent with him.)
                I struggle with feeling like I should have known…the red flags were there…he even slept for days at a time every other week. He worked overnights for extra money…all the things they do…but I was completely clueless…He always had very believable lies…it’s just depression for the sleeping and anxiety for the meanness. He always snapped out of it and was “nice” for a couple days. But the cycles became less and less of the mr. Nice Guy and more and more of the POS near the discard. Textbook.
                I am doing all the work on myself…I’m not very concerned nor interested in meeting a new man. But I know I will never be conned like that again. Ever. I highly doubt you will either. You are mighty:)

              • The point of this column in these cases is that we need to forgive ourselves for believing them, but not forget the lessons learned and be less gullible. I’m struggling with this myself.

    • Indeed. I forgave my wife in 2011 when I caught her TRYING to cheat. Her thanks was to actually cheat on me in 2017 with some other guy. Cheaters are a different kind of animal. They perceive goodness as weakness.

      • “They perceive goodness as weakness.”

        YES! What a light bulb moment. And that makes me sick. I have tried my entire life to be a good person, chastising myself when I’d slip and be brash with people, always apologizing- even in cases where I really didn’t need to, constantly seeking self-improvement, turning the other cheek so as to feel like I was being the ultimate kind person. Someone could have respected, possibly loved even, this about me. But it actually disgusted him. He got upset when I wanted to donate things and time to charities,(even when it was the kids’ activities,) complained that I was always volunteering, and my being there, making meals and helping neighbors, friends and family going thought tough times was “exhausting.” And I never asked him to participate or help me! WTF? He saw it as a weakness. And the more I tried to be “good” and perfect as a wife to keep him happy the more weak he perceived me. I don’t know if in some way he felt it made him look like a bigger jerk, but he diffidently saw it as weak and pounced.

        • Ex was fond of saying “nice guys finish last”. He saw kindness as we fault and selfishness as a virtue. No wonder he chose Schmoopie over me.

  • After DDay 1 I survived the rage, insults, and intimidation. I asked for honesty and explanations. After 6 months I asked for marriage counseling. We went 3 times and he quit. I never got an apology. The closest I got to anything was “shes my friend and it got out of hand”. I decided to try the fairy dust forgiveness out of desperation to save my marriage. I said “i forgive you. Let’s wipe the slate clean. I’m going to forget this happened and move forward and focus on loving you.” And I did that. A guy that is not disordered would have been grateful for this gift. But this cannot work with a narcissistic sociopath. He could not forgive me for “taking” anything from him. I took her away by notifying her husband. I could not be forgiven for seeing the real man behind the mask. I betrayed him by daring to go against him. He never stopped punishing me. It became his goal to prove my unworthiness with devaluation and abuse and put all the blame on me. He started sending me pictures of sluts to show me why I’m garbage. These were women worthy of fidelity and honesty who keep their husbands attention. When I went to work in business attire I got accused of being a hooker. When I went out on the weekend dressed sexy he got in bar fights with men and blamed me for being an attention seeking whore. The game is rigged. There’s no winning. I’m exhausted to my core honestly.

    • What ring of hell is this, Sending those photos is disgusting and dehumanizing. To forgive that is like forgiving the earthquake that caused a house to fall on you- nonsensical.

      I have loved your handle since I first saw it and it takes on a whole new meaning since daughter recently read Dante’s inferno for school and wrote a paper on it. I have never read it however she has been explaining the allegory to me and it is certainly timely. A couple of nights ago she came home and announced the next project is for each student to create their own hell using symbolism like Dante. She asked me to guess what her he’ll was based on and then told me “Dad”. She preceded withe her allegory of neglecting the people you love. It is sad but as she explained her hell, I think I saw a therapeutic value in it and it gives me new insight into her feelings.

      • Feelingit,
        Your daughter is amazing!
        I am glad that she is getting it all out, expressing her emotions, not keeping things locked inside.
        She is MIGHTY, just like her MOM.
        Always, I send love to you and your 5 beautiful children!
        ❤️

      • Feelingit that’s how I feel too. And I kind of feel like until I find a way to reverse the damage I cannot forgive. Is forgiveness possible while you’re still broken? Im not sure how to do it. I haven’t even forgiven myself yet for being weak and allowing this to go on for so long. And my name is inspired by Dante’s Inferno. Your daughter is very insightful and smart being able to see things so clearly. Breaks my heart tho that “Dad” would even be a ring of hell for a child. I agree that there is something therapeutic to it. It’s been on my mind all day. Hugs to you both.

      • What a smart and insightful daughter! You must be doing a great job being the sane parent. Even though she’s suffering, it is good that she’s able to talk about it, and express herself with this school project. She is a credit to you.

    • Whatringofhellisthis, you need to change your name to Ringofpeace! Stay away from this evil man! DO NOT let him keep punishing you!

      • Thank you Clearwaters. The day I can post as RingofPeace I will think of your post and do so with a smile. I hope everyone can get to heavenly rings of peace. 💜💜💜💜

    • This is just it. I forgave him all kinds of things for which he never apologized over the years, moved on and was always focusing on the positives which made it possible for me to love him. Meanwhile he never forgave me anything. We were married 23 years together 25. No, I can’t say that in all of that time I never did anything that needed forgiveness, but most of those things were relatively minor (I certainly never betrayed him) and I always apologized whenever he made me aware that I had done something to make him feel bad because I didn’t want to make him feel bad. Evidently he never accepted those apologies and there were other things he never forgave me for that I never even knew were transgressions. I rarely complained to him about anything he did because on those few occasions when I did he would make me feel like such a horrible person for having done so and that’s not how spouses are supposed to treat each other. You are never supposed to complain to your spouse about anything ever. You treat me so horribly Chumpinrecovery. And I believed it and was always trying to do better and improve myself, but it was too late because I had already transgressed and there is no forgiveness. Maybe that’s why he left in the end and didn’t even try to reconcile. He doesn’t believe in forgiveness and assumed that I would never forgive him so why bother. It is just another case of projecting his way of being onto me.

      • I could have written this word for word.. my infractions against him were minor yet he made HUGE deals of anything and held huge grudges. He did and said HORRIBLE stufffor which he expected and demanded instant forgiveness… it was very one sided. My parents were the same, they are very unforgiving people.

      • I was careful not to complain to X, I wasn’t supposed to complain, if I did complain X told me I was never happy, and would never be happy. At the time I felt happy and tried harder to prove I was happy by avoiding saying anything or explaining how I felt about anything,
        X claimed to have had a list of resentments that he could never let go. One was that I disagreed about changing our vacation plans to spending our vacation with his Mother. I gave in cancelled our family vacation and made reservations to fly to visit his Mother. Apparently, having a different opinion is unforgivable. X also listed some other minor things which were only excuses to justify his decision to leave. Such as, Brit, you never loved me, said to gain my sympathy and blame myself…, I failed, yet again, if I hadn’t complained he would have felt loved. He liked spaghetti, so why didn’t make if for dinner more often?
        X had been seeing AP and had no intentions of staying.

        • I learned that there was quite a price to complaining to nowdeadcheater but he complained as if it were an olympic sport. Good God, he griped like a 6 year old on a car trip with no AC and they have to pee and there are no exits. His equilibrium was SO fragile…it took NOTHING to set him off.

        • Same with me. All the comments about double standards and forgiveness are exactly my experience. Horrible things needed to just be forgotten. He would say “that was yesterday just forget about it. That was the bad me. Now this is the good me.” If I didn’t act like nothing happened then I was negative and judgemental and miserable wife and giving him a hard time. If I seemed sad/disappointed he would slap me really really hard on my behind and say cheer up honey!
          Brit – I know what you mean about wishing you never mentioned anything. It’s hard to hear that if you just didn’t say anything then everything would be ok. It caused a lot of deep sadness and confusion. Am i petty? Am i the problem? He used to mix that with “I wanted to come home and have sex with you but your nasty little attitude ruined everything again! So just forget it!” The crime was usually him not getting a text back in under 3 minutes then me apologizing and him angry then me finally saying ok that’s enough I said sorry I’ll try harder. That’s my bad attitude. So I was perfect for days. Then I slip up leave my phone in the car. Now once again “we were having a good few days and I wanted you and there you go again lighting my fire”.
          Yeah I don’t forgive him lol I’m still really mad. 😃

      • I could of wrote this, too. At one point while we were in wreckonciliation, he told me that he didn’t think he could ever forgive me if I had been the one who cheated. I told him to stop saying that because it made me feel stupid for trying to forgive him. I should have listened to my gut. If there is one thing I have learned through this is to listen to my gut.

        • Im POSITIVE that I would have never been forgiven if I had done 1/5 the stuff to him that he did to me.

          I think there were times – little glimpses – when he allowed himself to see that I was a good and decent person and he may have realized that he had done me so dirty that if I ever knew the extent, he would be ruined. Insight likely lasted for seconds before some dysfunctional, delusional coping angle took over.

          He used to yell “I have failed at everything I ever tried!” (pity channel)

      • And this is where we see the real irony of these cheating clowns. Their scorecard of “transgressions” is just fine and somehow justified, without any real semblance of forgiveness, and yet they are so self-centered that they expect to be forgiven for their substantial, life-altering transgressions without so much as lifting a finger to make things right.

        This is why I have zero empathy for these people. I really just don’t care what happens to them either way (my cheating ex-wife included, so long as my daughter isn’t unduly negatively impacted).

        • Exactly Nanki. He would constantly harass me for my memory. The issue was that he rewrote history and he lied. I would tell him start to finish the details. I was a monster for not accepting his version. And I didn’t even bring up an issue from the past bc I was so careful not to. He would bring it up. I’m not going to sit there and be scolded for something that didn’t even happen. According to him it was my excellent memory that caused our issues.

    • Whatringofhell–Yours is one of the most pervasive emotional abuse cases I have ever heard. Of course you are exhausted. Please tell me you are free of him now, or on your way to being free?

      There is NO way to avoid being damaged by that kind of cruelty, no matter how strong a person you are. Do you have a therapist specializing in trauma (and a good one)?

      Surround yourself with warm, loving people as friends to get yourself acclimated to good treatment. You are worth so much more than how you were treated; your X crossed the line into sociopath with that kind of behavior. May he cross a bus’s path.

      • Tempest thank you for this💜 reading your message was so helpful today. Its like i cannot allow myself to fully acknowledge how bad it was. Maybe it’s from trying to cope for so long that I’m still stuck in survival mode and denying the severity. There are days that i wish i could have kept my mouth shut and been able to take more. I hate myself when that happens. My family sets me straight real quick lol. They start listing everything until I agree. It’s embarrassing to admit but figured I’d be honest in case someone else is feeling ashamed for the same thing. I am on my way to being free. I do have a good therapist who specializes in ptsd, trauma and domestic violence. Before I escaped I had 2 to 3 sessions a week because I didn’t know my head from my ass. He somehow convinced me i was insane and he would say “I can’t believe I married you unaware that you had a mental illness since I met you. You have psychological issues and you can barely take care of yourself”. So I got so confused because I work full time and I’m getting promotions and bonuses and I’m also managing to do everything like a housewife that doesn’t work… so how am I crazy and failing? My therapist said he is like a cult leader and has no doubt he’s a sociopath. She’s like everything he says is a lie! It’s all lies! NO ONE agrees with him except you!

    • That’s exactly it! For Narcissistic Sociopaths, we are their enemy and their sole purpose is to punish us. I was engaged to an asshole like this, and the minute he proposed to me, his only goal became to annihilate me. I couldn’t understand why someone would do that?? Propose and want to marry a person, only to want to destroy them. But it does exist and I had lived this.

      I was used to this type of behavior from my childhood, since my parents are Narcissistic Sociopaths and their only goal was to destroy me. These people do not want what is best for you, they want to hurt you. When I called off my engagement, my ex-fiance became the NICEST guy ever, doting on me hand and foot, complimenting me. But I knew that the minute I would let my guard down, he would pounce on me and revert to wanting to destroy me and this would NEVER change. I knew this with every fiber of my being! So I told off my ex-fiance, crushed him and never looked back. Dumping him was the best decision I ever made!

    • I never forgave him ….I was the original “Bitter, party of one.” But not anymore, since he has passed away & I do not have to deal with his skein of fuckupness.

      I’m not saying I didn’t try to forgive him but I did for the wrong reason….I was trying to keep our family intact for our son. And it was absolutely tearing me up inside. Mr. Runswithhookers NEVER showed any real remorse or acknowledged exactly what he did. When I first tried to divorce him, he threatened to take our son away from me and blamed me for everything. He would tell me that he wasn’t going to talk about anything & that I couldn’t make him. So, I told him that I knew I couldn’t make him talk, but I could make him single! Once I found my voice again (after therapy & CL) and started to fight back, he had to try a different tactic. When I finally told him I didn’t care what he tried to do and I was done with him for good and to get out of the house-THAT was when cheater ex wrote me an apology letter-except it wasn’t-it was vague & all bullshit. He wrote that he was sorry for anything that might have said or done in the past to hurt me………might have? So, I guess he thought he might have been addicted to porn & hookers and that might have hurt me? Sigh….
      As far as I’m concerned there is no amount of forgiveness in the world to wash away the hurt, pain & trauma he caused me for the 20 years we were together. I forgave MYSELF for staying with him & letting him treat me as less than for all those years.

      He passed away unexpectedly earlier this year & I no longer have to think about forgiveness.

      But I have a new book & it’s an exciting adventure tale!

  • With the RIC, I see so many chumps go to great lengths to find fault in themselves. It is heartbreaking hear people blame themselves for their spouse cheating. It doesn’t matter how bad of a spouse you were, cheating is still not okay.

    The truth of the matter is, I was 10 times more unhappy in the marriage than my cheater was. The thing is, Of course I was unhappy, he wasn’t helping to parent, he was being reckless with finances that required me to bail us out constantly, we stopped communicating and spending time with me – causing me to be incredibly lonely, and he was never really good in bed – and that was before porn used used erectile dysfunction from him jacking off so much. How did I handle this? I suggested marriage counseling. I planned family trips for us all to be together and relax. I brought board games for the family as a whole and for the two of us to enjoy. I wrote him encouraging letters and mushy cards. That was just a small piece of the gymnastics that I went through trying to make things work. I dealt with my unhappiness by trying to make the marriage work. I vowed for good or bad and when things felt bad I decided that since we had committed to each other for life, I damn sure better find ways to turn things around so that we could both be happy and provide a safe, loving, and stable home for our children.

    I have zero blame in his choices. There is literally not one piece of any of this that is my fault. Forgiveness would do nothing to change him, because being an amazing wife did nothing to keep him from jacking off to porn, falling in love with fantasy web cam girls, and going to a massage parlor for a blow job.

    I love the concept of acceptance, but I am honestly still struggling with that. I am holding on to the anger and frustration because I feel like if I let it go, I am somehow saying it was okay. That what happened to me was okay. I guess, I am just tired of saying hurting me was okay. I am tired of pretending I am as tough as steel, when the truth is I am hurting very deeply inside. I am tired of being the adult and putting on a brave face for the kids and being being cordial and being strong and smiling, when in reality – I am crumbling inside.

    • Cool breeze out, I get what your saying about not wanting to let go of the anger and I think, for me and others that anger is necessary in order to survive. I think it is important and right for victims to be angry. I hope that someday, though, that anger will take a backseat and not define me. It won’t be saying it is ok ever, but rather, you screwed me, you are a loser and I have risen above your crap and moved on. In other words meh.

    • I can relate to that last paragraph. I think that is what makes it so hard for me to let go and why I can’t accept his relationship with Schmoopie. I don’t want to look like I am condoning that relationship when it started with lies, deceit and complete lack of consideration for the feelings and lives of others that should have mattered to them (including 8 kids between them). I don’t care how awesome my future life without him turns out to be or how lucky I am to be free of his constant criticism, etc., that still doesn’t make the way he ended our marriage ok and neither was her participation in that. Maybe we really weren’t compatible and maybe we are better off apart, but that doesn’t make it ok that he blew up our marriage in the way he did. I know he can’t ever right that wrong, but I don’t need to condone the relationship that was such a big part of that wrong. Maybe I will forgive him when he gets a new girlfriend that had nothing to do with tearing our marriage apart, but I will never thank him or give him any credit for my future life without him.

      • I love what you said, Chumpinrecovery, and feel exactly the same way. “Maybe we really weren’t compatible and maybe we are better off apart, but that doesn’t make it ok that he blew up our marriage in the way he did.” As I’ve gotten distance from our relationship (5 months post-divorce), there are things I remember from our years together that now in hindsight make me understand that we weren’t that good together. But his choice to cheat – which required thousands of lies, gas-lighting and continual blame-shifting – caused significant harm to me, our children and our extended families that could have been avoided if he’d communicated his extreme unhappiness and gotten out with integrity. I agree with CL’s description of forgiveness, that I’m not going to hang on to the anger, I just want to disengage and have peace in my life. Looking forward to meh.

      • couldn’t agree with you more!! I will never forgive her for her lying, cheating and conspiring behind my back with another man. Her total disregard for mine and my son’s emotional well being. I don’t care what my future brings, I wont forgive her for what she has done.

    • Coolbreezeout,

      It’s not about balancing anger with forgiveness.

      I think the secret is to balance the anger per se (our thoughts and actions directed towards our cheaters) in a way that lets us move forward (as in “Gain a Life”) and unchump ourselves (as in “Leave a Cheater”).

      I think someone once said: “Forgive and forget”. I would change it to ‘Forgive TO forget, but do not reconcile” unless the one who harmed us follows what ForgeOn posted below. Which almost never happens.

    • Coolbreezeout–You do not need to put on a positive face for the children; you only need to be civil to your X (as in not-rude).

      I know what you mean about the anger; I am 3 years out and have no intention of “forgiving” nor letting go of the anger about what was done to me. But over time, it subsided as a daily emotion, to become more of a moral indignation about being deceived and played for a fool.

      Emotions (including anger) evolved for a reason.

      • I agree with this Tempest. I am civil in front of the kids. I try not to talk bad about STBX, but I do NOT put a positive spin or try to hide his crap from the kids. That doesn’t mean I use them as a dumping ground for my frustrations or anger, but I do let reality be a part of their understanding.

    • I get where you’re coming from coolbreezeout/

      Acceptance looks like another shit sandwich. I mean, you knew you weren’t happy in the marriage, but because you’re an adult and you knew you weren’t happy, you took the appropriate steps to strengthen the relationship. Sadly, it takes two people who are invested in making the relationship work. You can’t go it alone. Looking back at all the stuff you did for the marriage and then looking at acceptance as writing it all off feels as if you’re condoning his behavior.

      I come from a different perspective. For me, acceptance isn’t writing off the past, but more acknowledging that the past exists, that I have to grapple with it, but also that it need not dictate my mightiness in moving into the next phase of my life.

    • This is soooooo right on.

      I just want to stop feeling the actual, physical pain of my heart literally hurting… the constant lump in my throat…. and my nose rubbed raw from tissues used to constantly wipe the tears from it.

      I so wish I had not projected the deep love I felt for who I believed he was on the person he actually is.

      • This is the hardest part. 5 months out I just try to keep telling myself that there is just a fundamental difference between my cheater wife and myself. I have the heartache and she wants to just forget it ever happened. I accept that I will have the heartache for a long time and because she is a disordered person she will just move on and likely move on with a dude pretty quickly. That’s what they do. It’s going to be rough. But I don’t have any power over that I just have the power to push forward with the divorce and try to “unwind” my life from hers in hopes that it decreases the pain. I believed in love, she believes in something different.

        • There *is* a fundamental difference: you have values, she does’t.

          Don’t show sympathy in the divorce, because it could lead you to not protect what is legally yours. You owe only civility and what the court considers equitable, and NOTHING more.

    • CoolBreeze,
      Your words spoke to me today. I had unhappy moments in my marriage as well, my needs weren’t being met, and in hindsight I was being verbally and emotionally abused for years. But I’m an optimist, and made a vow for better or worse, and kept trying to coax my initially sweet husband out from his hateful midlife shell. I walked on eggshells. I found happiness and joy of living in concentrating on my cheaters good points. (While he concentrated on my bad ones). But I never gave up. I could also do no right. Maybe I’m co-dependent, a doormat, who knows. But I’m trying to find/remember my worth at 51 years old and 21 years of marriage.

      I’m also struggling with thinking if I “let go” then I’m condoning his new relationship with the OW (my former friend). And if I “accept” it, then my kids will. Then he and she, and my kids (and hers) will all be fine — and I’ll be the only one still hurting. I never knew pain could exist like this, and at the hand of someone I loved and still love – despite it all.

      People ask me why I still love him. I’m trying to get to Meh, but how do you MAKE yourself fall out of love? Would I take him back? I did already, three times… but he left last May for the fourth time, saying I’d never forgive him and he was too stressed being around me because I wouldn’t stop asking questions and being tense. Asking questions is the only way I found out about the initial 18 month affair, as well as the continued underground affair that happened during our year long wreckonciliation. He left FOR HER. Not because I couldn’t forgive. I’m still sorting all this out. I feel like she “won”. He’s moving on. I definitely don’t want to be a bitter woman, I want to model happiness and strength for my 12 year old daughter and 18 year old son. I guess I have issues with control, can’t control them, only me. Maybe I held on too tight? Should’ve known my worth earlier, been a bitch instead of loving (yet neurotic) and then he might have valued me more and been afraid to lose me?

      I feel like my husband threw a bomb into our lives, and the fallout of the detonation are the questions, the insecurity, the tears, anger, and pile of rubble that I find myself trying to dig my way out of along with my kids. It’s taking a while, but it’s a big pile. I will not stay in this pile because I’m a survivor, I know that in my bones. God loves me and will strengthen me. I will eventually get to the place where I’ve moved past the rubble and then I’ll think about forgiveness and acceptance. I believe in love, still. But I’ve got to love and forgive myself first before I can look at my husband and OW.

      • CreativeLifer,
        Boy can I relate to your post… You ask questions that I have had over the few relationships where I was betrayed. The answer for me was my upbringing. Generations of women family members of mine had narcissistic, jealous, verbally abusive, cheating husbands. These women stayed with them and put up with their shi+. The idea that there was suffering involved in every relationship was rooted in my thinking when it came to relationships. So I stayed with two a-holes who cheated on me and emotionally abused me. I realized that I had to break the cycle of abuse and model it to my child. Should I ever encounter another a-hole, never try to convince them of anything. Just leave.

        I know that for you, the double-whammy of being cheated on and then LEFT for the stupid b-tch does a number on self-esteem. It stings knowing that she was your friend, he was supposed to love and cherish you, and that no matter that you forgave him, he continued to shi+ on your feelings and the relationship. It’s not fair and I hope you know that you are SO MUCH better than him. I hope that one day he finally shows you how crappy he is so that you no longer love him. He wouldn’t know a good woman even though she was right in front of him. HIS LOSS. You had love to give and now it’s time to love yourself. Peace and hugs.

      • Like Chump Lady says- the OW just “won” someone that cheats. He won’t change for her. They won some life turmoil. Your kids will always love you. Don’t blame yourself- you were a dedicated wife even when he abused that effort and trust. Start meeting more people socially and you won’t miss or love the ex as much as you are now. You’re the winner- you don’t have a cheater anymore.

      • CreativeLifer, I can relate to your post so much. It’s incredibly hard to just stop being in love with them. I think I’m officially “out” of love with my ex, but I still miss him sometimes. And like you, I have moments where I feel the “OW” won but as others have said, what did they win? A man who cheats on his wife. A man who lies. A man who walked out on his children and his wife because he “wanted to be happy.” She did not win a prize.

    • Coolbreezeout, what he did was not okay and you never have to pretend that it was. Acceptance may mean that you don’t let it dominate your life anymore but you definitely do not have to forget. I actually think it is healthy to remember. It helps us establish and keep boundaries if we still have to deal with them because of kids.

    • CoolBreezeOut, you just described my ex-marriage to a ‘t.’

      I’m sorry we both went through this. I thank God every day that I’m free of it.

    • I can relate to so much of what you have written. I want to let go and move forward for my own sake, but struggle because then he gets the benefit of believing that what he did was “no big deal” and getting to pretend like how he blew up our marriage was okay. It’s not okay and will never ever be okay, no matter what.

      • I really don’t think what WE believe matters one shit to them, or influences them in anyway. To say that by us “accepting” the situation it will make them believe what they did was no big deal is insane.

        What we think doesn’t even register with them never mind impact them. If it did, They would never have cheated to begin with.

        This not doing something because we think they will interpret it as meaning something else is just more wasted energy from us directed at them. It’s not NC, it’s continuing to operate in a way that dictated by THEM.

    • This is how I felt in the marriage before learning of the non-stop cheating beginning waaaay before the MOW. You just described my marriage before I busted the asshole.

      It’s not OK – all of the manipulation and gaslighting from the abuser to make you believe that YOU are alone the problem in the marriage. It’s so hard to see it as being abusive because it’s a small things that whittle away your expectations of your partner to the point your needs don’t exist and your healthy boundaries in the relationship become subterranean.

  • In my deposition, cheater’s lawyer was questioning me on talking to the kids about adultery and I mentioned the Ten Commandments.(btw, in true chump fashion, I am still kicking myself for not having more eloquent responses to all of his questions). Anyhow he asked me if forgiveness was part of my religion and did I teach my children about that. I don’t even remember my bumbling response.

    Of course upon returning home answers were coming out of the woodwork. I happen to pull an article out of a file full of things that I have collected in this nightmare process and the sentence “forgiveness is not to be confused with appeasement” jumped off the page at me. Kick self for not being quick on the trigger with that.

    Shortly after, I was reading divorce minister and Leviticus 20:10 came up and again, I thought I am very forgiving, I am not calling for the death penalty. (Although I must ask forgiveness because it has crossed my mind)

    Finally I was reminded of Matt 10:14 where Jesus tells his disciples that if anyone will not listen to their message, shake off the dust and move on to the next town. Well guess what, stbx isn’t listening to anybody!

    Disclaimer: I am not a theologian nor a zealot but I believe.

    • Sure he can be forgiven! By God, maybe.

      What we do not want is reconciliation. THAT is the point. And why? After all, it would be a perfect world if we could reconcile! We do not want to reconcile because, as Tracy argues, cheaters are INCAPABLE of changing! If they were, the Catholic Church, for example, would have millions of saints in its pantheon.

      If I got a penny for every time someone asked for forgiveness after they face consequences….

      • I do NOT argue that cheaters are incapable of changing. I don’t like being tarred with that brush.

        I argue that character change is difficult and painful. Entitlement (if you can suppress empathy, or have none to begin with) feels great. Humility and shame? Not so much.

        Character change is not an attractive path to those prone to impulsivity and kibbles.

        It’s an important distinction. Because if we argue cheaters are incapable of change, then they’re faultless. They can’t help being what they are. No. Cheating is CHOICE. People have AGENCY. They can choose differently and they CHOOSE not to.

        Character is the sum of your choices. We need to pay attention to those actions. And not people’s potential or What Kind of Fucked Up They Are. Even sociopaths make choices.

        • Tracy, God forbid that I tar you! Slip on my part, you are correct, of course.

          Change is almost always too painful for cheaters and, hence, improbable. That’s the way to put it.

          I guess I make this Freudian slip of using “never” and “always” regarding cheater character change as a mechanism to not slip into falling for fairy dust and wishful versus painful thinking about 41 years lost to a cheater.

        • I think another important perspective in the “Cheaters can change” department is that while it is theoretically possible for cheaters to change and become moral, upright human beings–can they every be moral, upright, human beings to their Chumps?

          In my world, you get one shot at marital fidelity. Once you cheat, you’re a cheater. Even if CheaterX had groveled, done the therapy, treated me well, and in all respects turned his behavior around, I would always know that he’s capable of cheating on me. I would not be able to trust him after that.

          Trust is very fragile. We extend trust to our spouses because that’s what we do and a marriage needs to have that foundation of trust. We also respect the trust we have in each other. When that trust is broken, the marriage is as well. It may be possible to earn back the trust, but the marriage isn’t as it was before.

          So for me, the real issue isn’t whether the Cheater can change, but how I feel about being married to someone who’s demonstrated that he is able to cheat.

          My answer is that CheaterX may be able to turn his life around (I doubt it, for reasons Tracy lists above), but if he does manage to do so, he can be faithful to someone else. He can’t be faithful to me.

        • Noticing that X had agency and chose to get angry with me and the kids helped me to see how bullying and emotionally abusive his actions were. Acceptance that he is an entitled bullying liar and cheater helped me give up false hope that he would change and things would get better. My forgiveness is along the lines of indifference to his fate, I have no interest, and intend to continue to avoid contact. Too busy getting on. Now I appreciate owning my choices and values.

      • Reconciliation requires more than just forgiveness. It also requires remorse, repentance, and taking actions to right the wrongs. We are only 25% of that equation. Cheaters are responsible for 75%. Forgiveness takes one person. Reconciliation takes two people. And as most of us have experienced, it is that 75% that is the biggest reason for the lack of reconciliation.

  • I used to hear this tripe on the RIC board I frequented after dday. There was one couple on there who’s wife cheated. The faithful husband preached to everyone that he forgave her the same day; even had her sit on his lap to do it.

    Both of the them would post so everyone could “see both sides.” He was pretty passive aggressive and would say things about his wife (who we all knew was reading along with us) that were pretty mean. He seemed very bitter to me and in my humble opinion would have been far happier if he left her. It wasn’t what I imagined forgiveness to look like at all.

    I like CLs version. Acceptance has always been my version of forgiveness. Once I accepted that he sucked; could no longer hurt me unless I let him; that what he did was in the past and would stay there as long as I didn’t let him back into my life; I could move on. I didn’t need to be friends with him or talk to him but I didn’t need to wish for all the protruding parts of his anatomy to fall off either. Once I moved out and healed I also tried to let go of my anger towards him. In the beginning anger fueled me into action to break wreckconciliation and head towards divorce, but I didn’t need it after a while so I let that go too.

    Of course my favorite CL definition of forgiveness is “I didn’t kill you; consider yourself forgiven” or something very close. 🙂

  • The disordered believe in and advocate for Fairy Dust Forgiveness because their entire lives are guided by fairy dust concepts — about dating, marriage, parenthood, careers, etc.

    It’s the fuel that drives the car — without it, there’s no movement at all.

    Kunty Kibbler concluded a carefully written masterpiece of history-rewriting, blameshifting mindfuckery with this bit of FDF.

    “Finally, I want to tell you that while I at times get frustrated, I am not angry. I learned how to forgive someone from whom I will never hear ‘I’m sorry,’ despite my having said those words to him. I learned how to tie it to a balloon and to let it all go. But I know you are angry still. I can see it in the way you twist up your mouth when you see me. My last wish for you is peace of mind and peace of heart. You truly deserve both.”

    Any suggestion that acceptance and disengagement (as CL advocates) is the only path to peace of heart and peace of mind contradicts the FDF concept, and proves that chumps are bitter and can’t move forward.

    The game IS rigged, there is NO winning, except to disengage.

    • …”because their entire lives are guided by fairy dust concepts”.

      Great point. And that is exactly why reconciliation is ALWAYS a lost cause with them.

    • I get this same time of dribble from my STBX. It is called the mindfuck and is aimed at making the victim feel guilt. Screw that shit. Life is better when you do not engage.

    • Dude, your cheating ex needs a Mexican wrestling style drop-kick to the neck.

      What a bitch. If she was really so justifiably self-righteous, she’d respect your wishes not to talk to you instead of sending you self-serving bullshit that temporarily covers up the bottomless pit where her soul is supposed to be.

  • “Forgiveness” is a word often lobbed against chumps–we are told by our cheaters that it is our obligation to forgive. Don’t feel bad if you decline to forgive–whether because the remorse you’ve been offered is unpersuasive, you never received an acknowledgment of the wrong, or you flat out are not ready to forgive. Cheaters are not owed forgiveness. No one is. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

    “I told her/him I was sorry about the affair, but he/she won’t forgive me” is a line that cheaters and abusers traffic in all the time. It is all part of the magic of blame shifting and feeds right into the narrative that the refusal to forgive proves that the chump is a bad spouse/partner which is what caused the cheating and abuse in the first place. Consequences suddenly turn into reasons for the initial violation. (I really dislike the common rhetoric of forgiveness–I think it has been used as a stick to beat me up with one too many times!)

    Cheaters and abusers don’t want to admit that they should stop doing bad things, admit to doing bad things, and apologize for bad things simply because they are bad things.

    Forgive on your own timeline–maybe this week, maybe in early 2024. It is up to you.

    • My ex never actually asked me to forgive him. I am not sure if that is because he doesn’t believe in forgiveness himself and so doesn’t expect it of me, if he doesn’t think he did anything that requires forgiveness, or if he is oblivious to the whole thing and isn’t focused on my end of things at all and so just doesn’t care. He is too starry eyed over Schmoopie to even notice if I (or the kids) forgive him. It isn’t even on his radar.

      • Way back when I first discovered the affair, ex told me he was sorry; I said I wasn’t ready to forgive him yet. He said, ‘I don’t expect forgiveness.”

        My ex is good at playing the manipulation game. He’ll say one thing, do another, then say something completely different down the line. It’s mind-numbing. That’s why no contact is such a blessing (as long as I can stick to it).

    • Another reason that I believe wreckonciliation almost always occurs is that cheaters are arguably a lot higher up on the narcissistic ladder than us Chumps; therefore, for cheaters to actually be remorseful and genuinely sorry equates with being “weak” in their disordered minds.

      Cheaters are self-serving and entitled– they must have the upper hand in a relationship. At least mine did. To “show” me remorse was to give up her power in the relationship. There was no way in hell she was going to do that.

      It was FAR easier to simply dump me as if I didn’t exist on the planet– rewrite history, blameshift, and wipe her slate clean– just be done with me. Erase her “old” life for new and shiny. Get a whole new crowd of friends and reinvent herself any way she wanted.

      I got dumped because I knew who she really was inside, and I called her on it. I had physical proof of her selfishness and complete lack of integrity. I had proof of her affair– her reputation was at stake, and that fired up her rage channel towards me. Remorse? Taking time to reflect on the ending of our relationship? Caring about my feeling? OH. HELL. NO. Not in a million years will I ever get an “I’m sorry” from her.

  • I hate this “forgive or be a bitter bunny” garbage. Some things are not forgivable. Are all people expected to forgive those who raped them? Brutally beat them? You get the point. I think it puts too much pressure on the victim. Victims don’t owe those who hurt them anything, least of all forgiveness. I get the intent of the article, and I’m not arguing with it at all, I just get annoyed with this whole “you have to forgive to move on” BS.

    • There is a mounting psychological literature about how trying to persuade people to forgive those who transgress against them is piling on more abuse to a victim. The best trauma therapists acknowledge their client’s right to hate their oppressor, and to not forgive them. “Forgive the person who wronged you” is most often thrust on those with the least power to begin with–abuse victims, minorities, women.

      My favorite quote on the matter is still “To err is human, to forgive supine.” (Perelman)

      • I’m not ready to forgive yet. I don’t know if I will EVER forgive him. Maybe years and years from now, but certainly not anytime soon.

        • Nope, never going to forgive. To paraphase Maya Angelo, you may forget what someone said to you, you may forget what someone did to you, but you will never forget how someone made you feel.

      • My trauma therapist told me, as soon as we met, that there was no reason to forgive somebody who abused me as cheater did, specially without any apology. She said that the abuse I suffered was not something to be taken lightly, and given that it had been an intentional attack, we could wish him harm as much as I wanted (haha, but she was very careful to tell me not do act on that). That later I was going to let go, but in the meantime, not only I could curse him, I could “attack” him back if I needed (for example, telling his family his whore was his first degree cousin). Not having to forgive, as my mom pretended, because “he is lost”, “in the fog”, and “he will have to live with what he did to you”, has actually allowed me to let go with less difficulty.

  • It is always a good time to rerun this column. Just yesterday we saw Besotted falling for a variation of the real remorse versus GINR drama.

    My cheater “asked” for forgiveness. Funny that he asked for it only after he realized the huge financial blow he would take (which I took too, but much smaller since I had better lawyers). He was so goddamn lazy (or entitled?) that the only words he was capable of writing to me were: “Forgive me” and “You didn’t marry the wrong guy. You married a guy who just made a mistake”. Sometimes I think cheating is merely a matter of incompetence….

    I almost made the mistake of reconciling by thinking of my distraught sons (also debated in yesterday’s post). But thankfully I was already a follower of Chump Lady then, so I replied to Lord Sparkledick’s request with Tracy’s criteria to test for Real Remorse. The conditions I presented were a fool-proof litmus test for GINR. The answer I got through my son was “I almost accepted your mother’s conditions, I would even work for her, but to live in the back room is an insult” (cheater has no roof to call his own except 1/6 of a house split with his brothers that is 1500 km from his current job).

    I wasted 41 years of my life on an entire family of various types of sparkly, entitled, cheaters: 8 brothers including my XH (maybe too little mother for so many males?). The ratio of attention I gave to XH’s family versus my family was 3:1. For monies it was 1:ZERO.

    The healthiest thing to do now is to get on with my life and continue doing what I have always dreamed of: being a decent mother and worker and, this is a new, work a small farm , sustainably with two of my sons. XH was (not “is”) an agronomist and for decades I talked about this to the wind. I have just sold my house and will invest in this.

    And I really do think of Tutu’s and also Mandela’s words after YEARS in unjust prison. “I don’t wish my EH and x-in-laws dead” (I am still friends with in-law cousins and wish them the best). “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.”

    Reconciliation is for those who deserve it.

    • Clear Waters, good for you moving forward with your dream of a small farm. That sounds wonderful to me too. Can you say what type of farm, ie produce or animals? Very exciting, “atta girl”!

      • Hi Moving. Yes, I can tell you: it is really a small farm, little over 121K m2, but it has water. And a view. I just sold my house this week, so I have not bought it yet and between the cup and the lip…. but we are in negotiations. The economy is really bad so it is a good time to buy.

        It will be an agroforestry scheme: plant about 10% with macadamia nuts and 65-70% with hardwood, 20-15% reforestation for water (the state pays you to “produce” water by planting native species of trees; once grown you can’t cut them down) and, since hardwood takes at least 15-18 years for a return (very good when it does; it is called green gold in my country) I will raise free range chickens and eggs in a scale for a modest income in the meantime. After three years, when the trees are strong, I can also raise about 30-35 beef cattle among the trees, two years turnaround to go to market for a modest income. But let’s see how I do with the chickens.

        I am very scared of fire, but the region’s farmers have a good fire brigade and I plan to use a new Dutch technology for irrigation if I can get a loan.

        I have a full time job, with full pension for life so I have something to fall back on even though my salary is shit for the level of responsibilities I have.

        And BTW, my, hopefully, future neighbor farm is owned by a guy who lost everything to women. I haven’t got the full story if he is a cheater or a chump, but he did raise himself back again but planting organic produce.

        • Thank you ClearWaters…Your farm sounds wonderful. I couldn’t do the cow part of it, but love pasture raised eggs! It sounds like you have it thought out. Again, “atta girl” on pursuing your dream. Best wishes.

  • … if you ask me, there are more bitter people staying married to cheaters than there are people divorced from them.

    CL NAILS IT AGAIN!!!

    • I look at my mother’s three siblings – out of the four of them, three are still married and all of their partners cheated on them. My mom got out of her marriage to my dad (it was emotionally abusive) and she is by far the healthiest of all the siblings. The other three just don’t look happy. I don’t even think they love each other. One has turned into a raging alcoholic, the other made herself sick from years of “pick me” dancing, and the third puts up with her husband’s constant emotional abuse.

      It’s all very sad. I’d rather go through the hell I’m going through now and come out a different, stronger, BETTER person free from my disordered ex than remain married to him and be miserable the rest of my life.

      • Yup! I look around and I see marital unhappiness… secret pain… people spackling… losing themselves… I mean, I know there are also loads of very happy and healthy marriages out there, too. But having been in a living hell because of getting chumped makes me SEE the people who stayed and are utterly miserable. It makes the choice to leave a cheater (or, in my case, be abandoned by a cheater bc he knew I had figured it out) seem like the One True Way, really.

  • Dear Chump Nation,

    Here is an excellent explanation of what the Bible really teaches on this subject:

    “In the Bible genuine repentance involves a sincere change in attitude, a heartfelt regret over any wrongs committed. Where appropriate and possible, repentance is accompanied by an effort to make restitution to the victim of the sin. (Luke 19:7-10; 2 Corinthians 7:11) Where there is no such repentance, God does not forgive. Moreover, God does not expect Christians to forgive those who were once enlightened spiritually but who now willfully, unrepentantly practice wrongdoing. (Hebrews 10:26-31) In extreme cases, forgiveness may well be inappropriate.—Psalm 139:21, 22; Ezekiel 18:30-32.

    Whether forgiveness is possible or not, a victim of serious sin may want to weigh another question: Must I remain in severe emotional turmoil, feeling intensely hurt and angry, until the matter is fully resolved? Consider an example. King David felt intensely hurt when his general, Joab, murdered Abner and Amasa, “two men more righteous and better than [Joab] was.” (1 Kings 2:32) David expressed his outrage orally and undoubtedly to God in prayer. In time, though, the sheer intensity of David’s feelings likely subsided. He was not dominated by outrage to the end of his days. David even continued to work with Joab, but he did not simply forgive this unrepentant killer. David saw to it that justice was done in the end.—2 Samuel 3:28-39; 1 Kings 2:5, 6.

    It may take some time and work before those hurt by the serious sins of others get over their initial anger. The healing process may be much easier when the offender acknowledges his wrong and repents. However, an innocent victim of sin should be able to find comfort and solace in his knowledge of God’s justice and wisdom, regardless of the wrongdoer’s course.”

    “Understandably, those who have been victims of cruel mistreatment may feel hurt and angry. However, recall that holding on to anger and resentment can be very harmful to us. Waiting for an admission or apology that never comes, we may only get more and more upset. Being obsessed with the injustice may keep the anger seething within us, with devastating effects on our spiritual, emotional, and physical health. In effect, we allow the one who hurt us to continue hurting us. Wisely, the Bible advises: “Let anger alone and leave rage.” (Psalm 37:8)

    Some Christians, therefore, have found that in time they were able to make a decision to forgive in the sense of ceasing to harbor resentment—not excusing what happened to them, but refusing to be consumed with anger. Leaving the matter squarely in the hands of the God of justice, they experienced much relief and were able to get on with their lives.—Psalm 37:28”—–from jw.org

    This very balanced, correct understanding of how God really feels about unrepentant cheaters (and all abusive people) has been a healing balm to my heart and I wanted to share it with my beloved fellow citizens of CN

    Love to all as we all ForgeOn!!

    • ForgeOn, you should have been Feelingit’s lawyer (see post above) to help her/him (I can’t tell from the post) shut up cheater’s cynical lawyer.

        • {{{{HUGS!!!!}}}} to you, ClearWaters and you are so very welcome!

          We Chumps are always eager to share good stuff with others!! Another one of the wonderful things about us genuine, honest, loyal people

    • ForgeOn-
      Thanks for posting the scripture in such clear context. I’m a believer, and seeing the Truth of my husband’s adultery in God’s own words does bring clarity.

    • Thanks for this, ForgeOn. It was really helpful.

      My husband did admit to me that he realized how deeply he’d hurt me, but he never asked for forgiveness. All I got was blame. In fact, I was the one that kept apologizing to him for obviously falling so short of being the wife he needed. It wasn’t until much later that I stumbled upon Chumplady and realized that what he was doing was a form of emotional abuse. By the time he left I felt so worthless I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without bursting into tears.

      After D-day I was determined to forgive, but found it much harder than I thought it would be. For awhile I beat myself for being a failure at forgiving too. Now, I just look at forgiveness as laying down my resentment and forging ahead with my life. I leave the rest to God.

      • To all,

        I am so pleased several of you have benefited from what I shared! It helped me dramatically to learn that this is what the Bible really teaches about forgiveness.

        Precious Lyn,

        {{{HUGS}}} Been there / Done that…..My brother had to point out to me that what I was experiencing was mental cruelty, among other things. We are so focused on all the wrong things when we are so deep in the middle of ‘The Maze”, we do not see clearly what is really being done to us

        I hope you especially noticed this point from the resource I quoted:

        “Where there is no such repentance, God does not forgive. Moreover, God does not expect Christians to forgive those who were once enlightened spiritually but who now willfully, unrepentantly practice wrongdoing. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

        In extreme cases, forgiveness may well be inappropriate.—Psalm 139:21, 22; Ezekiel 18:30-32”

        ++++The scripture at Heb especially makes clear that God does NOT offer blanket forgiveness! And I really love the point that in some cases, forgiveness may even be inappropriate

        Take care, all y’all

    • Thank you, ForgeOn. I am not a believer, but the idea that God will not forgive without repentance has given me freedom. If He will not forgive the cheater who has no remorse, there is nothing wrong with being unforgiving, and why should I forgive?

      • Precious Gato,

        I am so glad learning this brought you comfort & freedom. True and accurate knowledge does, indeed, bring freedom, as well as comfort & peace. (John 8:32)

        So many people turn away from religion due to God and the Bible being misrepresented. Has happened all thru history. To know accurately what is contained in the Scriptures has been a blessing and relief to me!

        When anyone is not remorseful for a heinous crime, (and we all know cheating is truly heinous) it is as we often say: “Ya got nothin’ to work with here!” Nope, nothing to forgive / we ‘buy a new book’!

        Take care as you ForgeOn with your cheater-free life!

  • I will never forgive X, never, he doesn’t deserve to talk to me. He callously shattered my life and our son’s security and world. Sadly as a result our son’s once promising future is sadly compromised. X robbed our son of having a healthy relationship with his Mother. Alienating our son telling slanderous lies about me and making false accusations was purely evil and selfish, not out of love for our son.
    There’s no doubt our son will have issues with his future relationships as a result.

    X will never ask for forgiveness, if he got hit in the head by lightening and asked for forgiveness the answer is No. He has shown me everything I need to know about his character and integrity.
    He’s evil, keep those support checks coming Satan.

  • Today, I am one year divorced. Two years since discovering his affair, affair bank account, compulsive gambling, etc. etc. Forgiveness? I am almost “meh”, but I am still ANGRY. Although Catholic, I have never been the most religious person, but on Sunday I had this revelation. Having said the Our Father thousands of times throughout my life, the final line “and deliver us from EVIL, Amen” had the most healing meaning to me. God has answered my prayers and delivered me from the most evil person ever! This has brought the strangest calm to me.

    • I remember crying in the shower one day a few months ago and sobbing to God, “Why HER? Why is he with HER?” The whore is the epitome of white trash with the morals to match. I couldn’t believe that my ex chose HER over me (because I’m pretty much the exact opposite).

      And while I was sobbing and asking God, “Why HER?” I distinctly heard a response: “Because it’s NOT YOU.”

      God wanted me away from this man. I fought it for years and years, trying to be the spouse who would bring him to God (and in a way, I did; he found God but he pretty much fell away from trying to do the right thing) but ultimately, the entire marriage made me physically ill (rheumatoid arthritis) and emotionally damaged. God delivered me from him. I had a red line – cheating – and I would not budge from that red line. I wanted no part of reconciliation. I knew I could never trust him again. And although it’s been absolute HELL, I know I am SO much better off now.

    • NotMyFault, I had that same revelation too about “deliver me from evil” from the Our Father prayer. I remember the day I first realized he was truly evil. My X grabbed me around the waist and pulled me close to him, kissed me passionately and told me he loved me. Seven hours later he was sitting across from me and reading to me the Divorce Letter that he wrote four days prior at work. A few weeks after that, I said to him, “What you did to me was evil. You are evil.” And I spent many months after that trying to make sense of what happened and connecting so many dots of times when things didn’t make sense to me. I realized he was lying and for sure emotionally cheating on me from the very beginning of our relationship. Even then when I questioned him about the first person that I thought he was emotionally (maybe physical too? idk), he lied right to my face like the evil snake that he is. And I’ve said this here at Chump Nation quite a few times — God 100% woke me up at midnight from a sound sleep the night I caught the snake out on a date with the whore who is now his girlfriend. My eyes sprang open and I had an instant gut reaction that something was not right with my now X. My first thought was that he took the NYC banks executives out to the strip joints (X went to strip clubs when I was pregnant with our second born), but it was way worse! God woke me up. No doubt in my mind and heart about that one. And I had a little revelation a few weeks ago. For about two or so years before I caught my ex out on a date with his ho. At least a few times a week I’d have a nightmare that I was all alone in the world. And I would always wake up about 1:20am. My heart would be racing and my chest would be covered in sweat. I was so upset that I could never fall back to sleep. Guess what time the cheater got home from his drinks date with the no? 1:20am! And I haven’t had that dream again since D-day. Yep! God was trying to get my attention since the very beginning of our relationship. I just didn’t want to listen.

      • For years, I had dreams that my ex was cheating on me. YEARS. I think my subconscious knew all along that he was being unfaithful or that it was only a matter of time until he was.

        • I also had recurring dreams of him cheating and then being cold and callous when caught — which is exactly what happened.

      • One time I opened the door to welcome my husband home from a business trip. He had his eyes cast down and wouldn’t look me in the face. Anyway, a voice that was as plain as day said “there’s someone else” loudly in my ear. It sounded so real I turned my head to see if someone was standing next to me (we had company). My husband slipped past and went upstairs.

        I’ve always felt like that voice was God. Even if He was using my intuition to speak, the warning was very real. At the time I thought it was strange, so tried to brush it off. But looking back, I’m sure he’d been with someone and was feeling guilty even though he tried to hide it.

        One thing I’ve learned is to trust my intuition and not ignore it like I used to.

        • I woke up one morning and a voice spoke to me – it was crazy! And said my husband was having and affair with XXXX. It was a distinct voice and one sentence and I just thought this person was a nice person that worked with my X. I called my X and we laughed about it. Turned out – that voice was right.

          Only ever happened once in my life. I though God woke me up to save our marriage. Turned out – He woke me up to save ME!

          • I 100% believe that God was speaking to you and all of the others above who have commented about hearing a voice or having dreams.

            Yep! God woke us up to save us! As I’ve told my X 100’s of times, “God has seen it all.” For me, all 24 years of stuff he did behind my back and all the lies he told to me and about me. God doesn’t want us being married to people like this and will wake us up, talk to us or give us dreams.

            • I believe everyone that had these experiences were being protected. there was something bigger than me “helping” me too. If it had not been for me jolting awake one night and then hearing him talking in his sleep a few minutes later I never would have investigated him. Clear as day from his mouth I heard what he said. I instantly had adrenaline rush. It all clicked. That was the beginning of the end. Something woke me up that night and although im still in hell it will have ultimately have saved my life.

    • I don’t know where I read this quote, but I wrote it down in my journal and refer to it frequently: “God takes certain people out of your life to protect you. Don’t chase after them!”

      • So, so true. It hurts like hell at the time but I think sometimes it’s the only way we really see that these people are dangerous and not good for us.

      • I agree, CurlyChump. That was always my biggest mistake in the past. At least with my X. I’d chase harder after him when he was devaluing me (another ho-worker was sparkling for him). I will never chase after another man or even friend again. Never.

      • “God takes certain people out of your life to protect you. Don’t chase after them!” Amen!

        And this applies to both cheaters and Switzerland friends alike!

  • I believe in God….. I believe one must forgive. Not saying it is easy. But forgiveness is not for the other person. It is to release the anger and hate. A process to keep one from being consumed by this. What I don’t believe in is that I share fault in her decisions, ever have to trust or have any obligation to reconcile. God does not expect anyone to stay in an abusive situation. True God hates divorce but also understands the depth of and destructive nature of adultery. Thus allows us to leave them. If one is a Christian, you understand marriage is a covenant not only with your spouse but also with God. The cheater has severed that agreement. I am amazed at the amount of people who claim to be Christians who commit adultery. It’s a one way ticket to hell. Well enough preaching, point is I believe for us forgiveness is needed. You don’t even have to tell them. It won’t change them. Once they made their decision to cheat, it is now our decision what we do. What is best for us. They no longer have an opinion!

    • I don’t believe in God, but I think we’re on the same page with the idea that marital promises are not strictly made to the intended spouse, and that marriage is a covenant that goes beyond the spouse.

      CL was gracious enough to publish my thoughts on this just about a year ago: https://www.chumplady.com/2016/12/making-a-vow-to-yourself/

      “A promise is a test of personal strength, of intestinal fortitude. One cannot make a promise to someone else without by necessity making a promise to one’s self, that of living up to these attributes. Cheaters do not keep promises — by nature (and sometimes aided by a perverted type of nurture) they are weak, they are selfish, they are deceitful. They cannot be expected to keep any promises made to others because they fail the most basic tests of principle and sincerity. For chumps, making and keeping promises is rather easy. Doing so merely means that we are being true to the ethical and moral standards we set for ourselves. We cannot live any other way.”

      Any forgiveness should be focused within, toward ourselves, not toward those who have proven themselves unworthy of it.

      • Well In my opinion, forgiveness has zero to do with the perpetrators. You don’t have to sit down face to face and say it. These individuals have proven they have one concern and it is for self. They have no morals, ethics or character. I believe they loath and hate us. In my adult life, I only associate with people who have morals etc…. I have dissolved friendships for less than what my spouse did to me. Why the world believes they should get a special pass is beyond me. My spouse damn near destroyed me. I may have forgiven, but I do not love her and more important, I do not like her.

  • 100% this. And the archbishop is so compassionate in his understanding that humans DO have anger and hatred for injustice and does not bring judgement…and at the same time he recognizes that we have the ability to forgive. It’s really amazing.

    This is where I am right now. I accept that my ex-husband cheated on me. I accept that I can not change him through my treatment of him. And so I divorced him. I am being true to my values and beliefs and my worth as a human being. I am not a victim of my circumstances. I rise. I am mighty.

    BUT. big but. I still get angry when he disappoints. I am still aghast when he does “less than”. When his lousy decision-making skills affect my life and my son’s life. It’s in these moments I realize my own chumpiness and I find that I’m not ashamed. Why? Because my heart seeks to do good, to be good, to find compromise and an easier path for my son. I am chumpy when the Ex is a complete and utter…..taker. So I create and maintain boundaries.

    All of this I know about myself. And I wish I could stop hearing people tell me that I’m angry and that I need to let it go. Shut the fuck up people!!! When I’m angry about t the Ex, it’s warranted! I don’t generalize my anger to anyone else. I don’t lash out at others. I may vent about the Ex but I don’t implode on others for his crappy character. And I HAVE let it go!! Just look at me! Look at my life! My son!! See the happiness we have found and created! Family and friends, you are a part of our success here!! See us for how strong and resilient we are.

    That was a rant!!! LOL I accept. I don’t know if I forgive. Like CL said, there is nothing to work with here.

  • I don’t care a thing about forgiveness. It’s always been a foreign concept, while wreckonciling or after leaving, I never concerned myself with it. To me, it was pretty methodical: the cheater will either reform or he won’t. Now, what are the chances he’s likely to do so? That’s where I investigated, for me, I wanted to know what kind of odds I was looking at.

    I’m not even sure how I would use forgiveness. I don’t need it either way, it doesn’t compute for me.
    My cheater pressed me to “move on”, to “put it all behind us”, sure, but interestingly forgiveness was never on his radar either.

    I guess it might be a cultural thing, since I’m aware the RIC in the US puts a lot of emphasis on it.

  • Wha?! Tracy is a fellow PK?! HOW DID I JUST REALIZE THIS?!

    Now I love her even MORE, which I didn’t think possible in the first place. <3

    • While I think CL does a masterful job of communicating the path to wholeness in secular language, it does help me that she has a religious background. So many of us have added pressure to reconcile not just preached at us BY our Christian community (and most interpretations of the Word) but also because we fear losing their support and a sense of belonging if we don’t reconcile. Being excommunicated on top of being cheated on? Not looking forward to it.

  • One Of the biggest take aways this whole being married to a cheater thing has taught me…STOP FUCKING TELLING ME HOW I SHOULD FEEL! I’m guessing that is my defensive strategy to years of gaslighting. Now I get I can’t just run around yelling this at people, and I don’t, but if someone is invalidating my emotional responses by telling me “I shouldn’t be bitter” or “I should be forgiving” they can take a long walk off of a short bridge. I’m certainly not advocating not attempting to move on, but that is a choice that should be made because I want to do it, not because my feelings make other people uncomfortable and they want me to “move on”.

    One of the best lines I’ve read in my mountain of fogivess books went something like “Anger comes from trying to enforce an unenforceable rule” in other words, it’s failing to accept that you can’t control how someone else behaves. I had no control over asshats serial cheating, but I wanted to enforce the “rules” (aka… monogamy) that we agreed upon. I couldn’t accept that he would blatantly lie to my face and then do whatever he was going to do – I kept trying to enforce the rule that he just didn’t give a shit about… and THAT made me angry.

    I haven’t corned the market on forgiveness yet, but I do not believe at this point that forgiveness is: wishing someone who has wronged you in the worst way a happy and fulfilling life. Nor do I believe wishing them natural consequences for their behavior is unforgiveness. I feel like if you remove someone far enough from your life that they are not even an issue in your life, that is where forgiveness can be found. It’s disinterest in who they are (because you’ve already accepted they suck), what they are doing, or what they think or feel. I accept that is my level of forgiveness at this point, and if I choose to alter my understanding of forgiveness at a later date, we’ll then , I’ll do that. That is something I get to control.

    • Yes, Got-a-Brain. And the BIGGEST shit sandwich to swallow is when your *Cheater* tries to tell you how to feel.

      “Aren’t you over this yet? You should be healed by now. Everyone else I know who is divorced is still friends with their ex.”

      STFU you don’t get ANY SAY in how my healing is progressing.

      • Yeah, I love the context dropping in the generalization”everyone else is friends with their ex”.

        Well let’s see… did they come to a mutual talked out agreement, or was one person forced to protect themselves mentally and physically by filing for divorce?

        Did they behave like adults, or did they lie, betray and cheat their spouse?

        Did they treat one another as equals with equal respect, or did they manipulate the other spouses perception of reality?

        Did they follow moral rules, choosing to do the right thing, or did they play every dirty trick in the book?

        I love it when they drop the context as to insinuate all the shitty behavior plays no role in the future course of interactions. #asshats unite #letstalkaboutme

  • One of my favourite mantras is; forgiveness is earned, not given for free.

    In 99% of our cases, being chumps we’re the ones trying to drive the process – buy the books, suggest the counselling, etc. That’s not the cheater earning forgiveness, that’s us playing make believe, painful though it is to admit.

    It’s part of the reason we have to step back – because you can’t judge objectively if the cheater is trying to earn forgiveness when you’re cajoling them along. It’s times like these that we have to step back, focus on ourselves, give them nothing… and, 99 times out of a 100, watch them not lift a finger to earn forgiveness – confirming our decision to walk away is the best thing for us.

    My ex wife had said to me, “I wish I could do something to take away the pain I’ve caused you”. But when I’ve told her some* of the practical steps to healing that I’d be looking for, she demures, then quickly falls into the stereotypical “I’m such a sad, confused sausage” type behaviour. It’s easy to say something like that, I even believe she believes it, but it’s apparently hard to take even the most basic step to back it up.

    Must say i’m struggling a bit today. I’d had to break NC last weekend to sort out things with our Solicitors getting out of control (creating work for themselves by unnecessarily escalating things), so her phone number is unblocked at the moment. Unfortunately that meant that I got the drunken text messages at 12.30 last night, which basically were a case of; ‘I’m drunk, alone, miss you, and want to come and see you right now’. I ignored, & she apologised this morning but still…. -_-

    *I think it’s important to always hold something back. If you give them all of your exact criteria that you’re judging them by, then how do you know if they’re genuinely trying or just checking boxes off a list?

    • My ex had the gall to tell me “well, you haven’t told me what it is I’m supposed to do to make it right” AFTER yelling at me that he was never going to read any books I suggested and if he did, he certainly wasn’t going to change his life based on what he read. That would only perhaps happen in therapy, with a therapist of his choosing (proceeded to drop out of therapy for the third time – in his defense, they were really bad therapists, but he stopped looking altogether).

      • Haha, oh gawd that sounds familiar. In the very first week, I actually emailed a list of the things she needed to do for me to consider staying. A very clear and precise list. She then spent the next couple of months moaning to everyone who would listen about how she didn’t know what she needed to do. It’s almost as if my list of things, including items such as “Disclosure full details of the affair – no secrets”, was so utterly distasteful to her that she completely forgot it existed.

        • Yeah, mine also was hard of hearing on that one. “What’s… Full… Disclosure? Nah, let’s drag it TWO YEARS instead and call it reconciliation, while Unknown chases after truth pebbles while I gaslight her and intimidate her and rage at her because she simply wants to know tooooo muuuuuch and simply woooon’t moooove oooonnn.”

          He is the perfect Timid Forest Creature (by Chump Lady).
          That’s actually when the lightbulb went off for me! In one comic strip, Tracy saved my life.

      • Unknown, WTF! Now THAT’S what I call entitlement.

        My cheater yelled at me that he was a failure and that it was MY fault!

        Were we married to the same cheater?

        • I think it’s them who are all married to their entitlement 😉

          On the plus side, he eventually made the decision to disengage quite easy for me.
          He was cooperative at first, when he could be his own hero, initiating therapy and whatnot, while chumpy held his hand. As long as it was on his terms, and I was off his back, he was all doting and invested. Then, when he started to see it was taking me “too long” to “get over it”, he got real impatient, had no qualms yelling at my face in the street saying I’m “supposed to endure it (the anxiety I had about not knowing the whole truth)” and that I should “go on medication” for it. The abusiveness came out in full glory. So when he stated squarely he wasn’t going to do anything about it (after he tricked me by giving it a first, meak try), I finally I knew I had nothing to work with anymore.

          He’s now left to his own craziness.

  • My ex asked me, “How long do I have to be sorry for what I’ve done?”

    He was telling me that since he said he was sorry, I shouldn’t feel hurt anymore. Like ‘sorry’ fixed everything.

    My feelings were inconvenient, and having them was the problem, not what caused them.

    Sheesh!

    • Sheesh indeed. If the remorse is genuine, he’d feel it everytime he thought about what he did, it wouldn’t have a timeout.

      Way to give away that his sorrow is manufactured, that cheating asshole!

    • I got the same bullshit. He’s “done apologizing” because he has put the past behind him, so now it’s my fault for not being able to “move past this.” Asshole.

    • When I kept asking my ex questions, he said, “You have a boyfriend now, why do you care? Haven’t you moved on?” First, I don’t have a boyfriend, I have a guy friend who ex assumed was my boyfriend and I didn’t bother to correct him (maybe because I wanted to think that I had someone, too, which was purely ego-driven on my part).

      He wants to be friends. I do not. He even said we could be Facebook friends now. I shut that shit down right away. Do they not understand the pain they’ve caused? Even AFTER I told him that he destroyed me, he still thinks we should be friends and that everything is hunky dory now.

      Disordered doesn’t even begin to cover these insane people.

  • I think people get tripped up by different thoughts about what “forgiviness” is. For me, I chose to sort my actions and feelings this way:
    Forgiveness = I choose to resume our relationship, and to not hold what you did against you. However, for this to be authentic, this requires the person doing the bad thing (the cheater) to actually take steps to correct what was done wrong.
    Bitterness = Being consumed with anger about the bad thing that was done. I think it’s important to understand that you can be bitter no matter what you do about your cheater. As CL says, you can be bitter about taking back a cheater and eating a shit sandwich the rest of your days.
    Acceptance = I choose to “accept” that the other person did something bad to me, but I will not let it consume me. To me, this was the shortest path to “meh.” Maybe this is what “meh” really is.

    So, I think what Tracey/CL advocates here is really “acceptance.” Not all of this is my own original thoughts; the term acceptance, and I lot of what I think on this, came from a book I read (“How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To”) that was very good about REAL forgiveness vs. fairy dust forgiveness.

    I also think acceptance means you can choose to treat someone as befits his/her actions, not out of an emotional attachment. If I have a good friend that is convicted of multiple cases of embezzlement, I shouldn’t let him come work in my business in the accounting department. He might be fun at the Christmas party, but I don’t leave him alone with the heirloom silverware. Even if this person says he’s sorry and tries to make up for it, it is simply not wise to put him somewhere temptation will arise. I think this also applies to cheaters. Cheating violates the basic trust, not just the part about not cheating but all the deception and secrecy that go along with it. Even if you stop being upset about what happened, it is basic sense not to put the person who did it in a position to do it to you again.

    • I forgot to add something…I think it’s ok to be “bitter” for a while, maybe a long while, after D-day. These idiots who want to play the “so what’s the big deal, you big crybaby?” have never known how much this hurts. You can take actions to help yourself get to “meh,” but these things take time.

      • I agree. Bitter can be a form of anger that pushes you to getting them out of your life. Helps to push you beyond the love and sentimentality that you have towards them (because you are a good person and good people are like that).

        • Totally agree about the “bitter” being anger that propels you to freedom.

          But I think “bitter” in one sense is just righteous indignation at the massive injustices that were done to all of us. As long as it doesn’t stop you from moving on with your life, I think a little moral indignation is not only warranted, but desirable. Too many people are not courageous enough to hold onto indignation at gross injustice.

  • Some things are not forgivable. In my case, I am not able to forgive cheater ex for the murder of my handsome, smart wonderful 14 year old son. Nor am I able to forgive his family for burning down my house and killing all my pets 2 1/2 years later. I just can’t say it is something forgivable, let it be wiped away. It’s just not in me. But I can give the whole mess to Spirit. I can’t hang on to the rage, the pain, the loss and stay sane. So I gave it to Spirit. It’s her’s/his, not mine any longer. I don’t have to carry that burden one second more and I am free to live my life without the need for revenge, the constant emotional upheaval, and the overwhelming sense of injustice. Cheater ex and his nest of cluster “B’s” family do not get to poison the rest of my life. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

    I am content that with Spirit in charge, there will be an accounting sometime, somewhere. Meanwhile, I have my sanity and serenity mostly intact. There is the added gift of knowing that cheater ex and his family would absolutely hate that….living well is the best revenge.

    Can this be done perfectly. Not by me as I am a flawed human being, but I can do it in a good enough way so it still works for me. There are still sad days, but I am still here, I am still living and growing, and still grateful for all the blessings I have been given.

    • Tessie,
      I can’t imagine losing your son and your home on top of the cheating. Murder? The loss of your son, I can see why you feel the way you do. You sound like a courageous woman. I hope you continue to receive blessings and peace <3

    • “… good enough way so it still works for me.”

      Tessie, you are just as inspiring as Chump Lady. Thank God you are a member of Chump Nation.

    • Tessie,
      YOU are the most flawless human being I know.
      Bless you Tessie!
      I love your kind kind heart!
      CN cherishes the memory of your precious son!

  • “I want peace in my life”

    That sums me up. I still have a long road ahead going through the divorce process. But 5 months in from Dday with cheater wife I know I just want peace. I accept the person in front of me is very warped and that is bad for me and my life. Bad for my physical, mental, and emotional health. I don’t ever envision myself saying “I forgive you” to her. She has actually said to me: “You have to forgive me! You have to forgive me! (insert tears)”.

    I just want her to go away. I don’t want to be in this abuse circus anymore.

  • Maybe I am in the minority, but what I have concentrated on is healing. I am never going to change X, crazy OW, or the things that happened to me. What I can do is work on healing myself and trying to be the best person I know how to be. Recently, the opportunity arose for me to get “revenge” (whatever that means). I took a pass. Why? Because it is not who I want to be, and is not reflective of my values.

    I do keep the phrase, “Let the wicked slay themselves” in my mind. It has been my experience that disordered people do disordered things. Actions have consequences; I am willing to let those consequences take care of themselves. That is not to say I believe we have no duty to stand up to what is wrong or obviously evil. Standing up for what is right is not the same thing as seeking revenge.

    Not every bad person is caught. Sometimes the bad guy escapes punishment, probably more is fair. In the end, though, that person still has to live with the knowledge of their conduct. Sure, some folks are so lacking in insight that they will never accept responsibility for their actions. Some acts are so egregious that forgiveness is never possible.”There are some things only God can forgive.”

    What is possible for me, though, is to try to live my life in a way that reflects my beliefs and values. I refuse to fall to their level. In the words of the great Maya Angelou, I want to believe that “still I rise.” Forgive, or not, is not my guiding star. Living a life consistent with my values, and the values I want my children to have, is what I strive for.

    • That’s one for the books Violet!

      It reminds me of what my priest has told me many times. Side note: priest is amazing as his own mother was a chump and she was in the process of divorcing his dad who had a heart attack and died before the divorce was final. Even though that sounds like a happy ending to me, he assures me that I don’t want that.

      Anyway one thing that bothered me and I counseled with him about was that the Bible says to love your enemies and I told him: I hate Stbx, absolutely hate him. He validated my anger and said I had a right to be angry. He went on to tell me that biblical love is not a feeling. It means you do the right thing even when you don’t feel like it. He said it is living right and not seeking revenge. He advised me that the right thing to do in this case is to pray for cheater every night and have your children do the same. He said you probably don’t feel like and it won’t be easy but it doesn’t matter, do it anyway. He said the best you can hope for is that someday your feelings will match up with your prayers. In the mean time, do what you have to do to protect yourself and your children. I thought this was good advice and I think that it goes along with forgiveness, it is not a feeling, it is an acceptance.

    • yeah, me and cheater wife walked the kid together through the neighborhood. She tried to mess with my head-tried to be seductive, tried to elicit emotions, etc…. I just focused on the kid. Left at the end of the evening and felt good about how I handled everything. But yeah its hard. Hang in there. Day by day.

        • at one point she even called me “babe”- her nickname for me. But I realize now that it means nothing. Back in May it turned out she was sexting the same sexual phrases to her AP that she has said to me her husband over the past 17 years together. So I realize now that she is full of sh!t. I see more clearly now. And it gets clearer each day. Some days easy, some days hard. Forward.

          • My ex called me “babe” once after I found out about the affair and I was livid because that was his name for his whore. He NEVER called me that.

            • Yeah, my X called our daughter “darling” one night (this was after I caught him out with the whore) and he never ever called me “darling” our entire marriage and he never ever called our daughter that until that day. Just more proof that he was already in some type of relationship with the whore. And if I would have said something to him about his word choice, he would have swung it around as more proof that I had “trust issues” and “it’s just a word” and more mind-fxcking behavior.

              • My ex also mistakenly texted my daughter a message meant for his whore – it said, “Babe, I’ll have to ask my boss if I can get off work early.” My daughter knew EXACTLY who he meant. She called him on it and he backpedaled and tried to say, “Nothing. I was thinking of coming to see you tonight after work.” AFter that, he had the NERVE to lie to her. Bastard.

            • Ditto – made me want to take a shower. He also started calling our 12 yo daughter Babe – made me want to put a boot to his throat.

              • Yeah i love the way they dig holes for themselves then have to lie to get out of it. My fuckwit was sprung with the OW (who didn’t exist according to the narrative ) when she and her friend came unexpectedly to see him (at midnight) clearly caught in the act he claimed to have been taking a shower…then when that didnt cut it he was supposedly “dreaming he was having a shower” . Poor confused forest creature….

  • One of my favourite pastimes is listening to podcasts. Some of my favourites are true crime or psychology podcasts, telling all sorts of interesting and terrible stories.

    Occasionally, they’ll do an interview with someone who is say, a convicted murderer, arsonist, etc landed in jail at the age of 18 or whatever. And the thing I find really interesting is listening to the people who you can tell feel genuine, heartfelt remorse.

    They will say things like “Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the life I took, that I took that person away from their friends and family, and wish I had taken a different path, anything to spare them that pain – I don’t have an issue with being locked up, it’s what I deserve for what I did” – and invariably the rest of their life will be defined by trying to make amends…

    That’s what remorse looks like; it’s “every time I think of my action I feel regret at having done it; I feel regret at the hurt I caused; I wish I could undo that action; I wish I’d never done it, I don’t deserve forgiveness”, and furthermore; “I think about my actions all the time, it haunts me”. People with partners saying “How long should I be sorry for?” etc are not getting anything genuine from them. I recommend listening to a a few of these kind of podcasts if you want to get a sense of what real remorse looks like!

  • I took easy forgiveness as “gospel” (without ever having been challenged deeply on it) but when tested, I knew in my heart it had to be wrong, or at least incomplete. So I began to research my own faith after hearing yet another Catholic sermon urging “forgive without counting the costs”. This just didn’t sit quite right with me. To my surprise, there is so much more to the picture when you you really go about removing the apparent inconsistencies throughout gospel by paying close attention to context and precise meaning of each part of the picture of forgiveness.

    Some of us are atheists, some of us are devoted to a faith. I’m more the latter and don’t at all want to bother the former. I especially understand the anger some of you feel at the mere mention of faith because you were abused by disordereds who used faith for their image management. But speaking solely to those who feel conflicted about faith driven forgiveness “obligations”, I suggest your faith is far more in line with today’s post than you may realize.

    There is so much exposing the fallacy of easy forgiveness that I can’t cover it all. John the Baptist and Christ always referenced “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia which means “transformation”, not merely a turning away as is its usual definition or usage. So it is required for forgiveness, and it isn’t only a change in outward behaviour, but a change in who you are inside.

    Perhaps the greatest story of judgment withheld and easy forgiveness was the famous “whoever is without sin should cast the first stone” in reference, no less, to adultery. It is found in John’s gospel but John never wrote this. It was added in 300 years after John wrote his gospel. And even as it is, there was no forgiveness per se…merely a postponement of “condemnation” (to being stoned) and a warning to the adulteress to change. Jesus laid out very clearly how we are to handle transgressions: 1) confront them, 2) bring a witness, 3) bring them before a righteous third party…and if all these incremental steps fail to bring about repentance, then “treat them as you would a tax collector” (ie today’s post on accepting they are crap and move on). “Do not throw your pearls before swine” sums it up nicely. First, this requires judgment (they are swine). Second it says you have zero obligation to forgive or change their swine-ness. After calling it out to this degree, realize what they are and just move on. Your abilities are better used elsewhere.

    There’s so much more, but the final picture gospel provides on forgiveness is perhaps the best. Christ is crucified along with two types of sinners. One type owns up to his sins and totally accepts the justice of his punishment. He asks for no relief. The other is narcissistic. He doesn’t accept consequences, or justice, and believes he is entitled to being helped and bitterly gripes at Christ. Christ speaks only to the first, telling him he will be saved. The second is ignored entirely. This is completely consistent with the true message of the gospels regarding forgiveness. It isn’t “easy”, it requires something honest, accountable and humble within the person being forgiven.

  • I don’t know if you have watched the movie, The Color Purple, but there were some memorable scenes in it about anger and forgiveness and what happens when the abuser is unrepentant. The main character, Celie, has been abused all her life, from the time her own father decided she would do what her mother no longer could do (illness) and throughout her awful relationship with “Mr”. Mr. came to get a female to take care of the cooking. cleaning, “etc,” at his place, wanting Celie’s younger sister, but accepting Celie when her father made it clear the younger sister would never be “available” for Mr. She was little more than a useful appliance to Mr, in the best of times. However, he could not resist the opportunity to tell her how ugly, stupid and useless she was at any given opportunity. Celie had incredible resilience, and no hope of any positive changes in her future. But she had the strength of endurance, and a basic goodness inside of her, and she survived all the years of heartbreak heaped on her. This goodness did not mean she did not get angry. She had her breaking points, and other characters had to step in and save her from certain disaster several times. But she endured, and eventually thrived.

    In light of today’s topic, one scene immediately comes to mind. The whole family is gathered at the table for dinner, and Mr cannot resist the opportunity to “put Celie in her place” in front of an audience. He was indifferent to the fact that no one there saw things the way he saw them. He said the wrong thing at the wrong time to Celie — and she put a knife to his throat. The others stopped her from killing him, but he realized how close she had come to finally handing him what he so richly deserved. As they dragged her away from Mr, Celie told him ‘ until you do right by me everything you think about will crumble.” Those words were prophetic.

    In my own home, I had the opportunity to tell my malignant narcissistic father that until he did right by our mother than none of his children would have anything to do with him. He finally realized that those words were prophetic, too. He finally stepped up to the plate and started doing the right thing for her financially, and even though he still throws in his verbal jabs about mother not doing what she “should” and following his directions, it has bought an uneasy truce to our family. We can get through the family gatherings and endure him being there. We will never “forget” what he has done in the past — to mother and to each of us — but we don’t bring it up. He gets to pretend he is a proud patriarch. I am not sure who he pretends to, except for us, but it seems to work for him. He will never be forgiven in the RIC fairy dust way, but maybe God will forgive him. He will never choose to change, or admit any wrong doing. He sees, he just doesn’t agree. But he has learned that his cruelty will earn him isolation in his own biological family, and he forces himself to do the bare minimum necessary to maintain contact. Maybe isolation is the only thing that matters to him? Maybe this is his karma? I don’t know, but like Miss Celie, we didn’t kill him, and we have endured. That’s as close to MEH as we will ever get in my family.

  • Forgiveness means letting go of the anger and cancelling the debt. That’s it.

    Someone cheating on you and betraying your trust, your health, your safety etc. is a debt that can never be repaid. They can’t uncheat on you, they can’t unbetray you.

    Thus, to forgive someone means to let go of the anger and hurt they caused you, and acknowledge they can’t ever repay you and to be fine with that.

    THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU FORGET!

    Too many people think that forgiveness = forgetting. No! If I loaned you $50 & you didn’t pay me back I could stew about the $50 or I could forgive the $50.

    Forgiving the $50 simply means “I’m never getting that $50 back, I’m just going to let it go.”

    But, if I forgave the $50, that doesn’t mean I have to loan you another $50 when you ask for it. And it doesn’t mean I need to take your feelings of entitlement into consideration when I deny you the $50.

    If you get mad, that’s on you. Not my problem anymore and not my problem if you don’t have the $50. Figure out how you’re getting that $50 but you won’t be getting it from me.

    Forgiveness really isn’t dependent on what the other person does or does not do. It is merely a cancellation of a debt they cannot or will not repay.

    Reconciliation IS dependent on what the other person does, however, but reconciliation and forgiveness are two different issues. You can have forgiveness without reconciliation but IMO you can’t have reconciliation without forgiveness. To reconcile means you are resolving the issues. You could pay back the $50 and tell your friend “I’m sorry I didn’t pay back the $50 and had an attitude when you asked me to pay it back. Please take this, and I will not ask you for any money again.” Then you two could start fresh, if the loaner so decides. But if the loaner decides they still don’t want to have anything to do with you, you accept that, charge it to the game and move on yourself, and resolve not to do that to any other person.

    Reconciliation does not mean “I loaned you $50, you refused to pay me back so here, have another $50.” That’s just dumb and controlling/manipulative on your part.

    The forgiveness is for you. It’s not for the other person and not dependent upon the other person. It’s merely a cancellation of the debt. All other actions are separate from the forgiveness.

  • This might have been mentioned in the comments already, but there is a very good book about exactly these distinctions in terms of stages of forgiveness, titled “How Can I Forgive You” http://amzn.to/2z6NRk7 I thought that it was excellent.

    That book takes a fairly thorough look at acceptance, etc., and also explains (with some clinical support) that full forgiveness simply is not possible when the offender isn’t remorseful (which ought to be common sense, but that doesn’t stop the RIC from making non-stop excuses for perpetrators that simply are NOT sorry that they have hurt others).

  • Forgiveness is not necessary. Over time your anger just turns to indifference, if you’re working on rebuilding a life you’re content with.

  • Back when all this first started I looked hard for some way to forgive what she did to me and our family. Early on, I did find forgiveness and told her that – to no impact other than she kept doing what she was doing and hurting me more.

    I don’t forgive her and I don’t think I ever will. I agree with some of the key points here that forgiveness is indeed a 2 way street and not just something you do for yourself. What she did is not “all right” and never will be. Apologies and remorse (which I expect to never see) don’t erase the past.

    With that said, and while I’m angry and hurt still, I don’t hate. A lot of people here do but that isn’t where my path led me. Perhaps that will get me to meh quicker – I don’t know.

    One of the (to me) related concepts with forgiveness, is the opposite where we all are cheering for the karma bus. Certainly I enjoy those stories as much as any of us and if it ever came to visit Mme YogaPants I would feel a certain level of smug satisfaction. I have no idea if it has, or even if it will.

    An acquaintance of mine was congratulating me for the good humour and grace that he felt I had with my situation. He of course hadn’t seen me curled up in a ball crying my eyes out. He said to me though that he felt that “good things happen to good people” and then placed me in that category. I looked at him and told him that I grew up on a farm and that I knew full well that “somebody has to shovel the shit”.

    The reality of this world is that at times evil does triumph, the meek do get downtrodden and we as human beings have to put one foot in front of the other and slog through the manure pile of life.

    But if anyone sees a short middle-aged woman in yoga pants riding along on a bus marked Karma and looking uncomfortable, please pass me the popcorn ….

    • I think that good things do happen to those of us who shovel the shit.

      Think of it this way —

      Who would you rather bet would have a better life overall: a) someone who fucks other people over and doesn’t seek to make amends when they have done wrong to other people, or b) someone who owns up to his/her mistakes, genuinely tries to improve him/herself, and makes it up to people when s/he has done them wrong?

      If you make shitty life choices without shoveling up after yourself (and this category would include 99.9% of all cheaters), I think that you stack the odds against you in terms of having a good life overall, in the ways that really and truly matter.

  • I for one do not plan on forgiving my ex-husband, not now or ever. I don’t need it to heal. I have ACCEPTED what he has done and the pain it caused me and our children. I don’t think he cares or is waiting for forgiveness either. He and his OW/now wife, just wish “we could all get past this” and move on already. To them I am sure I look bitter or petty because I do not want to be around them or speak to them. I call it self protection. The feeling I get when I am around them is the same you would get if you were facing your attacker. A heightened awareness that you are in danger. I am at risk for more hurt.

    They should worry about forgiveness from a much higher power!

    • I’m right there with you. Instead I seek to forgive Myself for not listening to my gut, for modeling a shitty adult relationship to my kids and enabling the asshole.

    • I get that. Every time I catch even a glimpse of Schmoopie or otherwise have her existence in my face I am filled with a sense of rage. This is scary for me because I don’t hate people. I just don’t. I have never acted on that rage, but it bothers me that I even feel it. I think that is reason enough to not want to ever be in her presence and avoid it at all costs no matter how bitter or unforgiving it may make me appear to others who don’t get what I am going through.

  • “It’s Just Not Enough For You!” I recently learned that these five words uttered by a ‘reformed/enlightened/theraptized’ cheater is BLAMESHIFTING, PROJECTION and HugeRedFlag of Zero Remorse from a cheater.

    Beware those who may be reconciling and are wondering if your cheater is displaying remorse or regret (Naugahyde). I heard those 5 words a lot. They can be pretty seductive to a chump. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have found an elusive unicorn through the massive fog of BullShit.

  • I think of forgiveness as a process and not an event. It’s going to take a while. Maybe forever. I think that I can let go and move on without forgiving. NC with XH helps.

    I now see that my relationship with XH was never reciprocal. He never asked for forgiveness, although I offered it many times during multiple wreckonciliations. Again, another example of a lack of reciprocity. No remorse, no making amends on his part while I swallowed my feelings and offered more chances. He never took responsibility for what he did, continuing to blame-shift and gaslight over and over again.

    I see several references to being Catholic in others’ replies, so that reminds me of the “Act of Contrition” I learned long ago as part of the sacrament of confession. “O My God I am heartily sorry for having offended thee …and I detest all my sins because I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.” And then the priest gives you a penance to say (like 5 Hail Marys, 2 Our Fathers).

    Imagine the Act of Contrition a cheater would need to say to be minimally comparable: “O dear chump, I am heartily sorry for having (screwed someone I met on Match, hooked up with an old girlfriend etc) for the last ___ years… and I detest my unfaithful behavior because I fear (the loss of income and assets and the pains of paying for lawyers). I can’t imagine how they could make it sound really remorseful since most don’t feel remorse and would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t think my XH feared the loss of my love, or the pain of living life without my love and support. And most cheaters don’t really have the ability to accept or do any penance. Forgiving them is a reminder that they did something wrong. They don’t want that reminder!

    • You left out the last bit, which is the most important:

      “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life.”

      There’s the difference between GINR and actual sorrow and contrition, right there.

  • I can’t imagine trying to forgive, or even considering something like forgiveness, when a person is still in the midst of discovery, conflict and the fog of being shattered. But over time and with no contact, I can see forgiveness in the form of losing the emotional feelings towards a cheater – over time what love you ever had is gone, jealousy of a their new partner is gone, a sense of one’s worthlessness is gone. It is like being washed and having a chance to start one’s life again (to buy the new book).

    I thought I was at “meh” for quite awhile and then had a few very angry dreams about my XH. So, I went to a therapy group and had a chance to act out some of my feelings. What came out was that I still wanted XH to feel some remorse for destroying a family. What I learned was that he was totally incapable of having the feelings I still wanted him to have. That realization seemed to free up what was remaining of my anger. (I think I had this as head knowledge before, but now it was deeper, I guess it could be called “heart” knowledge). That experience was several weeks ago and so far, no angry dreams. I seem to feel even more at peace.

    So that is what forgiveness is for me. Not forgetting, not saying it’s okay, just no longer feeling anger or wanting something that cannot be.

  • For a long time I actively hated, was angry at, somewhat vengeful toward, and wished the worst on my ex. I did not actively try to stop feeling this way, instead I accepted these feelings as natural and normal given the situation and what he’d pulled during my pregnancy and child loss. Because I didn’t edit myself, I didn’t have inner conflict about my feelings, and they eventually dispersed on their own. I would never say I’ve “forgiven” him, but he simply isn’t part of my life or my world anymore. I don’t actively hate him, but I certainly don’t like him and would never want to see him again. I don’t “wish him well,” fuck that. I never actually believe people who say that about the person who hurt them. He’s irrelevant to me. I DO wish he’d stop hurting other people, but I know I don’t get to control that and hope that time and consequences will take care of him. It’s not my job to right this cosmic wrong, though I do spend time trying to help other people caught in this net to get free; that feels like a productive use of my time. I actually have a life now. I strove for and attained acceptance, and I’m just fine with that. When people preach their forgiveness values at me I’m not too nice about it, because who wants someone else’s values imposed on them? I tell them to mind their business.

  • Perhaps I have a lot longer to go, but I still wish a literal bus to hit my ex.

    I see him as I see my cancer. Everywhere it grew, it took over and ruined that part of me. It took over and infected my body.

    That’s how my ex is. A cancer. Everywhere he goes, he will hurt and destroy people’s hearts, and lives. He will tear threw them without concern for their lives.

    And my therapist say to me, one of the most freeing things to my journey of forgiveness to deep abuse and hurt caused me, as I struggled with forgiving, and all the pressure to do so by others, was this: ‘Some things are unforgivable. Do not focus on forgiving. Just accepting that you will be a good person to yourself to not forgive. You can let that part go and heal from those unforgivable things. Turn the focus on your suffering and let’s heal that.’

    • This really resonates with me, both the cancer and the bus hitting 😉 I also mentioned to my therapist that it felt like I had gotten rid of two cancers this year.

      I have been struggling with forgiving too, but just moving on and being a good person to myself sounds a lot more doable.

  • I see forgiveness, remorse, regret & reconciliation as separate issues.

    To me, forgiveness is “You owe me $50, you haven’t paid back the $50, I’ve accepted you won’t pay back the $50, I’m not going to come after you or ask for the $50 anymore”

    Remorse is: “I should’ve paid you back the $50, I didn’t and I’m sorry. I am paying you back the $50.”

    Regret is “I’m sorry I didn’t pay you back the $50” (doesn’t pay back the $50)

    Reconciliation is “Here is the $50 I owe you, I’m sorry I didn’t pay you back.” / “I accept the $50”. / “Let’s be friends again, but maybe we won’t lend or borrow each other any more ever again.”

    Manipulation/Pick Me is: “I know you didn’t pay me back the $50 & you said you’re not going to pay me back the $50 but I’ll give you $100 to stay my friend”

    Manipulation/Get Over It is: “I paid you back the $50, why are you still mad?”

    Forgiveness only requires one person. It doesn’t mean you forget about their offense and it doesn’t mean you have to reconcile with them or have any dealings with them ever again. It doesn’t mean you’re happy about what happened. It just means you charged it to the game and you’re moving on.

    All other issues, you just have to use your best judgment and learn discernment. You don’t have to reconcile or deal with anyone who has caused you harm, and you get to decide that, not them.

    Because I personally feel forgiveness is a one way street, I don’t feel like you can ask someone for forgiveness. I personally feel that asking someone for forgiveness is a sign of entitlement. It doesn’t take the other person’s feelings into consideration. You can express your remorse & try to make amends but you have no right to ask for or expect any forgiveness from the other person.

    But when you ask someone for forgiveness, you’re actually asking them to forget you committed an offense against them and you’re asking them to just let it go so YOU feel better. Again, you don’t get to decide that. Only the other person can decide that. That’s why I feel that forgiveness is really for yourself and not the other person. It should not be dependent on what the offender does or does not do.

    • Thank you for this. I really like the analogy and appreciate the thought behind it. I am going to let this swim around in my head… “Forgiveness” via lowering one’s expectations and moving on with zero expectations of remorse/regret/reconciliation may just be something I can tackle. 🙂

    • I did once lend $250 to a friend. Only half was ever repaid. That loss was easy to forgive, however, because it was only money. Also, I knew this friend was a bit of a loser and unreliable so I wasn’t really surprised. Forgiving ex is a lot harder, however, as it was my heart he took and the injustice runs much deeper. Also, I thought he was better than that and was taken completely off guard. The best chance he has at being forgiven is for me to really see and know him for the pathetic shell of a person he really is which made his actions inevitable.

      • You knew the person was a loser & unreliable so you forgave the debt. But you probably won’t loan that person that much money again (or any money). You certainly aren’t going to beg the person to borrow some money from you.

        Same principle with exes, friends, coworkers, etc. Yes, you were a crappy person to me. Now I know what I’m working with. I may forgive you, but that doesn’t mean I need to talk to you ever again, deal with you, trust you etc. All forgiveness means to me is letting go and moving on.

        You already know what kind of person he is b/c he’s shown you. All you can do is accept it and act accordingly. You don’t have to forgive anyone if you don’t want to. Forgiveness isn’t for them, its for you.

  • How do you pick up the threads of an old life?
    How do you go on?
    When your heart had begin to understand;
    There is no going back . . . . .
    There are some things time cannot mend;
    Some hurts that go too deep that had taken hold. . . . .
    (Lord of the Rings movie Return of the King said by Frodo when he comes home).

    Those words resonate with me regarding my Ex, the divorce and forgiveness.
    She has never accepted any blame indeed blameshifted everything to me and said terrible lies about me to everyone and has said them for so long that she has rewritten history and believes them.

    For me though, I could forgive her the cheating and maybe even the abuse she inflicted on me for 16 years. BUT doing everything she can to cut me out of my kids’ lives by having OM replace me as Dad except for financially, moving 500 miles away, making communication and visits as difficult as possible and ruining holidays I just can’t forgive. The truth is that I love my 3 kids and they love me but she has done great harm to our relationships and we are not that close and sadly may never be. It will probably be the OM who will walk my daughters down the aisle in a few years–not me.

    As I told my therapist, wife and others THAT is a wound that will never totally heal and something that I just can’t forgive. We are all human and a Christian and Jesus said himself that in order to be forgiven, you must be truly sorry and vow to do your best to never do the bad thing again. If you refuse that then you cannot be forgiven nor should you be.

    • See, I don’t think forgiveness applies in your case because she keeps racking up the debt. The only thing you can do in your case is to take action, whatever that action may be.

      • Thanks Lurkmode. I don’t wish her ill and have moved on with my life and am remarried to a wonderful woman and am happy.

        It doesn’t need to be the way it is with the kids..I have never said a bad word to them about OM or her to them and always behave. The problem is she is a narc and narcs see people as objects that they can replace. I was replaced and in her mind I should go away and just keep sending money while OM plays Daddy.

        My kids are all in High School and when alone we have talked about this. About all we can do is hope that once they are adults and away from her we can grow our relationship.
        I leave justice for her in the hands of God and Karma.

        • Just the thought of the possibility of your daughters letting some OM walk them down the isle in your place make me so mad for you and I don’t even know you or your daughters. I hope that by the time they get married they are old enough to know better than that. I hope they will realize how much you love them and how wrong it would be to let someone with no character take your place by their sides. We can always hope that by that time your narc ex will be done with him and will have alienated him from your daughters. What a terrible situation and what an evil woman your ex has chosen to be.

          • And I will add that even after all he has done to me and the kids, I would never encourage my daughter to let anyone but her Dad walk her down the isle. He may be an asshole, but he is her Dad and he does love her even if he is messed up in the head.

            • Thanks Chumpinrecovery. Unfortunately she moved herself and the kids in with OM 1 month after filing divorce (judge said so when I brought it up) and then as soon as the alimony ran out married him so he’s stepdad now.

              The OM is a real piece of work, he works but was living in a trailer when he met Ex and they have had a good time for the last 6 years on my money–he drives a brand new truck (that my child support pays for) yet I have to buy my kids clothes or they would be wearing rags.

              To add insult to injury, this Summer he wanted to have my kids’ last name changed to his. I asked–so are you filing adoption papers then ?? His response–well no because then your child support, medical support, buying them clothes, etc would end. I can’t write my response to that in polite company!!

              I could write a book on my Ex and the OM–those two are “special”. I do think that the wheels will come off the bus once my money stops—the kids have told me of arguments since the oldest turns 18 in 6 months ….

    • As a dad I worry about this same thing. Cheater wife is paranoid about our daughter finding out what she did so I worry she will try to poison her mind with lies. I don’t know how to help with your situation. I would pick up my life and move to be as close to the kids as possible and get good lawyer to work the visitation agreement. Be at every school function and tell them you love them every chance you get.

      • I agree that ^this^ is a solution where you can impact your relationships with your kids. I hope this is feasible for you. Otherwise you are stuck in a passive situation controlled by your X.

  • YES to this powerful key to healing and enjoying our own lives again.

    Forgiveness is one of those words that has been so weighted down by placing majority of the responsibility onto the victim that it’s lost it’s true meaning of lifting the victim OUT of victimhood!

  • I can’t even fix my lips to say “forgiveness” and, frankly am pretty proud of it. I’ve been down that road in the past. Forgave to the very best of my abilities. Twice.

    I’m feeling better every day but not because of anything remotely having to do with forgiveness.

  • I was reading an article just yesterday about how societal pressure to “forgive” our wrongdoers is a form of victim shaming. And really, I hear subtle shaming all the time with the comments like “you need to give cheater a break. It was only one time” (I had to inform this particular person that the “one time” was really a six month affair, where he was living with affair partner. Cheater lied to his own bff saying it was a one night stand, which apparently is somehow less offensive than a full blown affair?)
    With that realization, they backed off with the covert victim shaming.
    But I always hear things from cheater or Switzerland “friends” avoiding becoming bitter or angry as if I should suppress my raw emotions derived from his deplorable behavior. Affect regulation is effective only when acting out on our emotions become situationally volatile. Otherwise it only causes our authentic feelings, now forced inward, to fester into outwardly tics or behaviors. (eg hair pulling, skin picking, Tourette’s, uncontrollable rage, depression, anxiety…)
    I’m tired of my emotions manifesting into strange behaviors because I am never given the opportunity to express them without the shame of “not getting over it”. I’m tired of the shame that continues on long after the primary offense from the abuser. We carry the weight of their betrayal and when we crack, they expose our pain and use it against us by reminding us of how broken we are. This is narcissism at it’s core and this vile abuse is only being validated by cheater sympathizers.
    And now, with assholes like Esther Perel, any hope for accountability from the cheater is all but lost.

    • Your post really resonated with me. They use our pain to “prove” we’re broken just like they use our completely legitimate anger to “prove” we’re mean and crazy. I hadn’t considered that I felt ashamed about expressing my intense pain until I read your post. Now I can see why I was so worried about telling others that I am “still” struggling with the betrayal.

      • @FedupChump:

        “Victim shaming”–yes, perfect. (See also “piling on,” “blaming the victim,” “minimizing,” “enabling abuse,” “it’s not what he/she did, it’s your reaction to it that is problematic”)

      • I am constantly labelled as “angry”, “mean” and “resentful” by cheater. If I express any discontent those words come flying at me like hurled stones. Each accusation hitting me square in the heart. It’s bewildering to me that someone who caused so much pain to our family can dismiss his own actions yet constantly point the finger at me. His mother is just sick from his narcissism. He always needs an enemy. Currently his target is his brother. He instigates conflict and tries to involve anyone who’ll listen. It’s embarrassing. He constantly criticizes yet cannot take criticism from anyone, especially those he deems of lower status/intelligence than himself. Which is just about everyone. He speaks to his mother in a way that would make anyone sick. He just ridicules and belittles. He’s a terrible person despite his “attempts” to save his family. Which I know damn well he’s only trying to do to spare the expense of divorce. We are just a path of least resistance. Knowing this motivates me to get a job and get out. I am virtually trapped. He makes six figures yet we are always just getting by, and not having access to his credit card accts, and primary checking acct, I can’t see where the $$ is going.
        He is an abuser. He’s never laid a hand on me but he’s holding me captive in a situation I’d rather not be in, he berates me, he goes into a narc rage when I suggest that he’s also abusing his family (brother and mother). Every conversation is about him and his greatness, all the while putting other around him down. He’s an insecure man child. Every time I open my mouth to talk he interrupts me. Especially when we’re with other people. Just talks right over me like I don’t even exist. It really sucks living with someone, pretending everything is okay while I align my ducks. It’s a special kind of Hell I could only wish upon the slag he was screwing during my pregnancy with baby #2.

        • FedupChump–it is MADDENING that they behave in the most atrocious, injust ways, and still find the ire to cast aspersions on us.

          When I refused to play “nice” with my X after divorce, or to be friends, and called him a few times on his manipulations (yes, with snark, I admit), here is part of what he sent me,

          “My sole intent in these last emails was to establish an understanding of the tax rule so that we could both file in compliance with the law. How does it feel to be so consistently nasty and mean to someone who is still supporting you and DD#2 financially?

          I want nothing further to do with you. I don’t even recognize you any more. You are a total stranger to me and I feel sorry for the person you have become. I used to look up to you, respect you, and yes, love you, believe it or not.

          Please be advised that your emails will now be blocked, so I won’t have to read any more of your vile language or interact with you ever again. I’ve tried time and again to have a civil dialogue with you but it’s impossible. It feels good to know that I have repeatedly taken the high road notwithstanding your horrible emails. [more blah blah about how I contributed to the demise of the marriage…blah blah..]”

          Words designed to sting, and cut me at the knees about my character. Cheaters excel at that nonsense. Here is your goal, “I don’t give a damn what you think of me.” I had reached a point of indifference/contempt toward my X which allowed me to not respond to X’s email above, nor to be upset by it. Cultivate your indifference (and NC), and your X will cause irritation but not pain.

          • Wow. That sounds like my cheater’s language. He’s writing to an audience. I can almost guarantee he blind cc’d someone on that shitty email. I am sorry and reading that makes me anxious because it hits so close to home. To them, the problem isn’t what they do to us, it’s our reactive anger, as you stated previously. I bet in person, your cheater wasn’t as cool with words and probably instigative. People like that push all the right buttons, raising their rage until we react. Then they change the channel to calm as so we appear to be the crazy ones. It’s a sick game and I’m done playing. These people aren’t seeking forgiveness or even an amicable relationship. They’re only after power and control. And that includes making the victim out to be the bad guy. As long as they can drive us to crazy town, they have the power.

            • You’re right–that is the one certainty in all of this; their main goal is POWER. Once that becomes clear, everything else (including our response) falls into place–they can’t have power over someone who is completely detached from them.

          • Tempest, your X writes just like my X. I seriously just got the same bad feeling in my frontal cortex that I get when my X writes to me or when he’d talk down to me. My X thinks he’s superior in all ways and there’s nothing wrong with his character. And with his calm and Spock-like demeanor, he pushed me to edge when I started reacting to all he did to me for 24 years. And all the mind games. And all the blame shifting, gaslighting and projection. I cannot believe I ever loved someone like this.

            • I know, Martha. The lack of fairness, and willingness to kick someone who is down, kept me incredulous for a long time, but 3 years of reading CL stories leaves me (almost) unable to be shocked anymore.

              DoneNow (member emeritus) did a great job of UBT’ing that final email (above) a couple of years ago. The funniest bit (in a dark kind of way) was his claim to have “taken the high road” after fucking a graduate student and an undergraduate, then sexually harassing another student (who wouldn’t sleep with him) out of her graduate program, then embezzling university funds to pay for part of a trip with his last AP (and current GF). Strange definition of “high road,” dontcha think?

              • Tempest, not that it makes it any better, but I’m so glad this email from him was from a few years ago and you have a friend that was able to UBT it! I’m guessing you are mostly NC besides convo you need to have about your daughter (if my memory is serves me right).

                Yeah, it’s truly amazing how your X did such horrible things, but then projects his badness onto you for reacting to his abuse and bad decisions. These cheaters are all the same. 🙁

        • A bit off topic, but my mother was just like this. I was “it”. Gone nc with her after 50 years.
          But I think it set me up to continually forgive abuse in every relationship thereafter.

  • I’ll never forgive my CXH in a million years. Acceptance of what my marriage turned out to be has happened. I reached Meh on a Tuesday a couple of years back. But hell to the no, will I ever forgive him for hurting me the way he did. I got to read the emails that him and Schmoopie wrote back and forth making fun of my pain. I would love to see the Karma bus pull up in their culdesac.

  • I grabbed the Divorce Letter out of his hands, walked up the basement stairs (nothing better then being told in the basement that your marriage is over), got in my car and headed to church to show our pastor the Divorce Letter. What was one of the first things the pastor said to me? “Martha, you are going to need to forgive him or you will become bitter.” For many, many reasons, this man is no longer my pastor. My X is a Jesus Cheater and I’m leaving it up to God to deal with him. I personally find it really hard to believe he’s actually a Christian after all he’s done to me for 24 years and also all the lies he told to not only me, but family, church, friends and ho-workers.

    Like others have said today, I’m working on forgiving myself. For letting myself down. For abandoning myself for a pathological liar and serial cheater. For not taking good care of myself. For putting most of my energy and time into him and our family. I can see he was like an “idol” to me. I was addicted to his scraps of what I thought was love. I want and need to forgive myself, because I still beat myself up for believing the lies even before we got engaged.

    If I could sing, this would be what I’d sing to him. But it would also break NC and it’s not gray rock either. 🙂

    • Martha, stop punishing yourself. All it takes is waking up one day, can be today, and saying to yourself “Hi. I like you enough to begin this neat experience of life again. All things in my past exist as learning tools. All things in my future are up to me.”

      • Martha ….the church has it’s head up it’s holy arse when it comes to cheaters/perverts. Do not allow anyone. to shame you….or make you feel “less of a Christian” for the way you feel. That’s re-victimizing the victim!

        Being stung by a lying, deceptive, adulterous narcissist- is painful and miserable. It takes as long as it takes to heal from the damage. Let no one (church people included)- shame you again! Shame on that ignorant pastor. He never really read the Bible in it’s proper context.

      • I would not be surprised if your pastor is cheating on his wife. He was a little too quick to jump into forgiveness if you ask me. Any pastor with an iota of education/Biblical knowledge knows forgiveness does not work that way.

        • Leavingthecrapbehind, I have thought the same about the pastor. We were in counseling with the pastor for about two months and I swear it seemed like the pastor was taking the X’s side all the time. Even the first time we met with him, the pastor started off the session giving us homework to work on in order to “strengthen our marriage.” I was like, “Whoa!!!! Hold on their pastor. My husband just got caught out on a date with a newly divorced whore! This is what we need to talk about first.”

          And about a month after that, I figured out the X and the whore got kicked out of the restaurant/bar at midnight when it closed. How did I figure that out? Well, I had to drive past the restaurant on my way home from counseling and I immediately started trembling and a “still small voice” said to me, “Call up the restaurant and see what time they close.” So where was X and the whore after they got kicked out? I confronted X that night and his usual ruddy red face turned ghost white when I told him that I knew the restaurant closed at midnight. He then went on to lie and say they stood out in the parking lot until close to 1:30. Well, it was a cold and rainy night, so I’m sure that was just another lie. So once again at counseling, I told the pastor that they got kicked out of the restaurant, etc. The pastor got on his iPad for close to 20 minutes trying to prove me wrong that it was a cold and rainy night! Eventually my X lightly kicked the pastor to tell him to stop searching. And then the pastor went into this elaborate story that the X wasn’t really lying, because they were really still at the restaurant even though they were outside in the parking lot. He went on to say that he had told his wife similar things when he was out say at McD’s with friends, etc. And another red flag pastor comment is that he takes a picture of himself when he’s out at a sporting event or whatever to send to his wife so he can show her that he’s actually where he’s supposed to be. I thought that was weird. X only said to me about that comment, “I would never do that.” Lots of strange things about that pastor, but he’s not my issue anymore. I told him off a few times (I never thought I’d ever be mighty enough to stick up for myself, especially to a pastor) — I told him that he lied to me three times (yes, a pastor you lies!) and God had seen how he treated me and how he stuck up for the cheater and didn’t discipline the cheater. If I ever hear that the pastor is a cheater, I will not be the least bit surprised.

      • UnderConstruction, I like what you said. My sister has said the same about having my past mistakes (believing the lies, ignoring the red flags, putting up with his “friends”) be used as learning tools to not make the same mistakes again. I have this great fear that I’m going to end up again with someone just like my X and that stops me in my tracks. I need to use what I’ve learned to keep myself safe in the future.

        I have a book that my counselor recommended for me to read and work through. It has to do with “inner child” healing. I never understood the concept of having an inner child, but what you said, “Hi. I like you enough to begin this neat experience of life again.” reminds me to talking with your inner child. Thank you for what you said.

  • I have thought about this a lot. Would being able to forgive him help me? I’m not sure. I need to forgive myself for being stupid. For believing him when he said he would never hurt me again if I gave him a second chance when I found out about his three year affair. For not kicking his sorry ass out when I found the texts to a “friend” to give him what he wanted, send him naked pictures. For laying in the bed at night alone while he is on dating sites and porn sites. For taking care of his children, not mine when he was out fucking anything that was over 18, under 200 pounds and had a vagina. For flirting in front of me and then yelling at me how insecure and jealous I was. For leaving me waiting hours with his children while he was out with whatever would have him. For knowing he was lying thru his teeth. For supporting him and kids financially while he job hopped and whore hopped. Kicked him out, better late than never, but will never forgive him. I don’t need to. I just need to forget him.

  • “…..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……”

    ^^^^^^^^THIS^^^°^°°°°°°

    Excellent post again, C. L.!!!!

    These quick quotes that I have learned and claimed over my life:

    “He is God, I am not…”

    “I am not Jes
    Jesus, nor do I have Alheimers…”

  • I’m very familiar with FDF. In the context of toxic relationships, it keeps you mired in the sludge. I think I can forgive my ex (from afar) but I will never agree. I think it will only happen after I’ve long since moved on.

  • “I was reading an article just yesterday about how societal pressure to “forgive” our wrongdoers is a form of victim shaming.”

    I wholeheartedly agree.

    And again, it’s like we have to go to the dark place inside ourselves and ask, ‘What do I gain, if do fairy-dust forgiveness?’

    There is such an alluring list of sparkling bon-bons to choose from:

    I will get him/her back in some way – even as ‘just friends’
    I will be an Evolved and Splendid Person
    The kids will be better for it
    I won’t have to get divorced and be ashamed in front of all my friends
    I won’t have to be that sad single person
    I won’t have to start again on my own and be broke and have to work really hard

    I am thinking about these types of things a lot these days – the fears we all carry, and how they feed our chumpdom, our willingness to do faux-reconciliation, and the things that drive us into fairy-dust forgiveness.

    To me, a huge part of my journey has been learning to fight my inner dragons, and face my inner fears. Yes, it makes me crusty at times. But it’s also helped me to survive WITHOUT bitterness.

    • I wish there was a like button for this. It really is absolutely no fun to file for divorce knowing full well the social consequences. It’s even worse to find out after. It will be a circle of hell if the STBX is socially powerful. BUT – it all clears the way for an authentic life. That’s the sweetest bonbon in the box.

  • When someone is truly sorry, these 5 things will happen:

    1. They take full accountability for their actions and decisions
    2. They do not make excuses
    3. They do not shift the blame
    4. They acknowledge the effect it had on you
    5. They do not expect your forgiveness

    If you don’t have all five, you don’t have a genuine apology.
    If you accept insincerity, you invite iniquity/more cheating/more lies/more bullshit.

  • Cheater/liar/pervert thought it was his job to sneak around behind my back with web cam hoes, prostitutes and/or anyone who would have him. It was my job to forgive him. If I didn’t forgive him- I was a worse sinner than him.

    Who the fuck made that rule up? Obviously a cheating dirt bag with a Bible in his/her hand.

  • Forgiving is no big deal. Forgetting is the problem here. The human brain is NOT designed to forget danger, trauma or pain. If we “forgot” about people, places and things that harmed us- we’d all be dead by now. Sabre tooth tigers would have eaten us…..or we would have fallen into quicksand…..perhaps we would walk right back into rattle snake’s nest because we forgot it was there.

    Trauma should not be falsely “forgotten” in order to make a cheater or his church happy. Trauma should be processed, dealt with…….and faced. Then and only then …it will heal. False/premature “forgiveness” does not help anyone- except the cheater and his poorly schooled religious buddies.

    • I totally agree, Leavingthecrap. My ex-MIL, after her “nice person” masked finally dropped for me (saw it drop many times for other people in the years prior) — she said to me while pointing a finger at me, “The problem with you, Martha, is that you can’t forgive or can’t forget.” Funny, but she said the same thing about her step-son who didn’t want anything to do with his father. There is no where in the Bible that says anyone needs to forget anything. You’d be a fool to forget dangerous, toxic and abusive behavior. I did forgive my X for all the things he did prior to D-day. But I didn’t forget. How could I? Especially since he kept doing the same things over and over again, but in different ways. That’s called a pattern and his patterns showed me who he truly is. Remembering and seeing the patterns is being wise. Forgetting and putting your head in the sand is being foolish. My X is a fool and evil and the Bible says to stay away from people like that and I am!

  • And yes….betrayal IS traumatic. One of the worse things that can happen to a human. Your whole life changes the minute you find out you have been betrayed. Everything changes!

    The church needs to pull it’s head out of it’s ass and start following the Truth- not what sounds good.

  • This is so, so helpful, Chump Lady! It’s been exactly four months to D-Day (omg, how time goes by both quickly and agonisingly slowly!) and I remember that in the initial stages, I was told the following things:
    – ‘His cheating was a sign that he was profoundly unhappy’;
    – ‘Forgive and let go’;
    – ‘People change, you need to accept it’.

    Hmm, ok. For some reason, it hurt to hear this. I was already very confused and hurting like hell. I couldn’t process my emotions and hated myself because I couldnt bring myself to forgive and forget. I internalised the blame – that I made the guy so unhappy that I suffocated him and led him to do something uncharacteristic of his behaviour, namely cheating.

    My pain didn’t feel validated.

    This was a guy that I loved, trusted and admired for the best part of my twenties – over seven years. I made every effort to make distance work and flew to see him, throwing my career and finances in jeopardy (yes, I was an idiot). I supported him during his difficult moments…and the moment he got a job, his ex-gf (who didn’t do anything during his tough time) swans in and I become just an option. Except he didn’t tell me this and continued letting me believe all was well. I leaned on him when my father died and this was too much for him to handle so he turned to OW for lols. He was my best friend and cried a lot on D-Day. I felt I was causing him pain and to this day it hurts when I think of him being upset.

    And then I found CN and my perspective changed when I read the unified theory of cake. I am still struggling with my emotions and thoughts but after spending a couple of weeks here, I can see that:
    – Feeling anger is perfectly valid and even necessary;
    – It’s time to lock up the good memories in a drawer for the time being;
    – Fuck forgiveness, really. He didn’t ask for forgiveness when this happened – instead he went and did it again. I was grieving for my parent and he went to look for fun.

    My therapist told me I need to feel hatred for him so I can get over him – I’m not sure how healthy that is. CN, what do you think?

    Also, how do I forget the trauma of the cheating? It seems that every time I rationalise to myself that ‘it’s for the best’, a dark part of me throws a memory of the infidelity at me eg some explicit picture he exchanged with OW or some action which he took which only started dawning now. The trauma is at odds with how much I miss him as my best friend.

    • NMT–of course you should hate your X for the deception and using you for his own benefit without any real measure of reciprocity. Hate away. You’re very fresh behind the ears after D-day, and making sense of the trauma of the cheating isn’t really possible. Ride your emotions like waves–sometimes you’ll feel grief about the loss of the relationship, sometime in the near future a dark rage will roll in that you will worry will consume you. It’s all part of the healing process.

      Chumps are trained not to express negative emotions. Nonsense; why should we NOT be morally indignant, angry, and yes, even feel hatred, toward someone who lured us into their net on false pretenses only to drive a dagger into our backs. You felt more hurt when people told you to forgive the cheater, or inferred that his behavior was justified because he wasn’t happy, because you weren’t validated about legitimate feelings. Don’t allow that to happen; ditch the friends who want the world to be rosy, even if they have to re-victimize you.

      You are worth much, much more than how you were treated.

  • I am so glad you ran this post. Last Sunday, the sermon at my church was about grace and forgiveness. My heart was pierced clean through as I considered my unwillingness to forgive the cheater I married. Let me be honest, I don’t believe that forgiving the offender would make me feel better. We all know forgiving does not change anything on the cheaters side of the equation. By Thursday, when I read your thoughts on the topic, I was ready to deal with my unforgiveness. Pastor said forgiving someone won’t change them or reduce the offense. Forgiving those who have harmed us is not about our human relationships. It is, rather, the response of our hearts in gratitude and acknowledgement of the forgiveness we have received from God, through Christ. So I forgave. CH hasn’t changed. Nothing in my life has improved. But somehow, I feel peace.

    • Linda, you’re exactly right. Forgiveness is unilateral – it happens in the heart and mind of the wronged party, and it DOES NOT require that the offender apologize or ask for forgiveness; if that were the case, many of us would NEVER be free to forgive, because we’d be waiting for an apology that would never come! And, it is a process, at least it has been for me. Nothing changed over night for me, but as you described, a certain peace is achieved, and that peace will become greater as time goes on. “Forgiveness” was articulated to me as “taking the offender off your hook and putting him on God’s hook!” BUT, reconciliation is another thing. I am divorced, and my ex is remarried to his most-recent-but-probably-not-last affair partner. It has taken a lot of time and introspection for me not to be triggered by every little thing I find out about them, but I am less and less affected as time goes on. I want nothing to do with either of them; despite the fact that they want to be “friends.” My children are grown, and there is no need to have him (or her) in my life. I don’t want those kinds of “friends.”

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