I am four years out from D-Day. I found out my husband was sleeping with a 25-year-old co-worker while we were trying to start a family. I’ll never forget having to explain to my doctor why I needed an STD test. Or how he blamed his cheating on all the attention I gave my disabled little sister. (Who adored him.) Never forget how I lost my husband, my home, and the family I’d dreamed of in a single afternoon.
Fast forward four years. I live in a charming house in a small town where I’m considered something of a local historian. After my divorce, I went back to school and wrote a novel that was recently picked up by a publisher. (Yay! I have only to start solving small-town murders for my dream life to be complete.) Things are great! Or at least I thought they were…
Recently, I was having wine with a friend and since we are both divorced, the topic came up. Eventually, she hits me with this nugget: “Well, you can never truly move on until you forgive him.”
Chump Lady… I don’t know if I’ve found my Tuesday, but I thought I was close. (Monday maybe?) We’ve been no contact since the divorce. I don’t generally think of him or miss him at all….
But… NO WAY do I forgive him. He put my health in jeopardy and never acknowledged the hurt and humiliation he caused me. Never apologized for burning my life to the ground.
I let my friend have it. Why should I forgive him? Don’t I have enough on my plate being a writer and pretend super sleuth without adding my ex’s redemption to my to-do list? Shouldn’t that be his problem?
But now I wonder….does my lingering snark and refusal to “do the work of forgiveness” mean I’m holding onto something? Do I really need to forgive to find my Tuesday? Please say it isn’t so…
Oh geez. Forgiveness trolls. They live under bridges and demand absolution for fuckwits.
“Who’s that tripping over my bridge?” roared the troll.
“Oh, it is only I, your friend, holding this glass of wine,” said F-forgiveness.
“YOU MAY NOT PASS” said the troll. “For you can never truly move on until you forgive!”
If you were a billy goat, this story ends with you head-butting the troll, who falls into the river and drowns.
But alas, you are an aspiring novelist and small-town historian and must use subtler methods.
Start with questions — what exactly does forgiveness look like to you, Becky?
Because from where I’m sitting it looks like you did the “work of forgiveness.” You got on with your life. You don’t actively wish him dead. You didn’t exact revenge or back over him with a truck. You don’t dwell on the pain. You’re no contact, he’s not central.
What exactly is she expecting? A balloon launch?
I’m not in Becky’s head, but I’m guessing what she expects is that Fairy Dust Forgiveness where your good opinion of him transforms him into a better person and makes you the Bigger Person. And then we’re all friends and no one feels uncomfortable. By which I mean, Becky doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
Perhaps your vulnerability unnerves her. Or, more likely, your badass resiliency. Oh hey, that new life you built? I think you missed a spot.
Maybe judging your recovery makes her feel better about her own divorce. Well, FF is a bitter bunny, but I have moved on with magnanimity toward Greg. He comes over for tea sandwiches and we throw goats off bridges...
Maybe she just wants to you shut-up? But dressing it up as forgiveness sounds better? I wish to God FF would stop nattering on about Bradley. Instead of changing the subject, or admitting my compassion fatigue, I’ll just shame her into silence and question her spiritual growth.
You’ll have to check yourself on this one. Not every friend, even a divorce friend, wants the particulars. But then again, what are friends for? If you’re a chump, I’m guessing you’ve sat supportively through every trial and tribulation with Greg and never once corrected her “work.”
…does my lingering snark
Never lose the snark. It means you can see the absurdity. It means you have perspective and a sense of humor. Never underestimate the healing powers of snark.
and refusal to “do the work of forgiveness”
What work is that? What more is required of you? And why is any of it Becky’s business? Who put her on the Forgiveness Patrol?
mean I’m holding onto something?
I’d be shocked if you went through such a trauma and didn’t hold on to something. A disturbing memory. Some lingering pain. The goal is to live in spite of the pain, to manage it, not anaesthetize it so you can eat more shit sandwiches.
Do I really need to forgive to find my Tuesday? Please say it isn’t so…
To me, forgiveness is meh. It’s acceptance. You reject this person’s centrality and let go of their power to hurt you. Sounds like you’re there. But what I think doesn’t matter, it’s a very personal thing. You can move on just FINE without forgiving your ex, who didn’t ask for forgiveness and doesn’t think he did a single thing wrong.
I also find it offensive that all this “work” is heaped on the victims of abuse. Not the abuser. This is the RIC model — chump does the heavy lifting, the cheater’s entitlement is unquestioned. Forgiveness is just one more thing they’re entitled to, apparently.
FF, go solve some small-town murders and let us know when that book gets published. We’re rooting for you!
(Becky, not so much.)