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Do I Have to Forgive Him?

forgiveness trollDear Chump Lady,

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.”

Wait… what?

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…

Sincerely,

F-forgivness

Dear F-forgiveness,

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.)

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  • Forgive “the privilege they get from these abuse patterns.” ?
    (-credit hush)

    Forgive them for what? For being who and what they are? These are the choices that they have made and it defines their character and their core.
    Every person has agency. To deny that is to excuse ourselves from our behaviors. Conscious or unconscious they belong to us.

    Accepting who they are is one thing. Letting go is another thing. Forgiveness? Not my business.

    • FF,
      CL and Langele are highlighting an issue that prevents me my Tuesday— I feel less of a person because I stubbornly refuse to forgive my cheater AGAIN. You heard that right, again. From my perspective, my freak will never be satisfied with my level of forgiveness that I’ve paid her— I forgave her for running off with her twu wuv and making me doubt my children were mine. Once I gave her that, everything super-charged and she got a new life to cause me more pain. No thank you. Sometimes you have to be “Hunter’s Dad” and hide in the basement as the world destructs— no contact, remember she sucks. Contact with a freak is an endless war that the chump always loses and why waste that energy when books are to be written, crimes solved and life gained?

      • I was obsessed for years with the issue of forgiveness (not to forgive a partner but a parent). I also completely refused the idea that I had to ‘forgive’ a person because for me it was a recognition that what had happened was somehow right ot at least not that bad. I think it’s much easier for religious people because they believe in some entity on the sky or wherever who will punish the perpetrator for his/ her bad deeds. They can continue to live their life because god/ gods/ spirits will give just punishment to the perpetrator.

        I know now what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is nothing but focusing on yourself and living your best life no matter what happened in the past. It means that a person/ persons no longer live in my head and have no power over me. I no longer obsess with what’s happened, imagine all the bad things that should happen to them or plot revenge against them. I no longer think about them, except on rare occasions, so they no longer have power over me. I’ve let go of their power over my life. I have to live my own best life from now own and not waste my precious life on revenge or whatever.

        I also clearly understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean that my thoughts about this person are now associated with fluffy bunnies and sunny meadows. I can fully recognise (I must recognise, so not to fall prey to the same person/ type of person again) that what that person has done is crap, and/ or that that person is crappy human being which should be avoided. But I no longer dwell on it because I have to focus on myself and my life. This also means that you cab continue to love your shitty ex but you also must leave them for your own happiness and health.

        I no longer pay attention to these forgiveness trolls. The world is full of naive at best, and trolly at worst people – Cousin John stole from our cousin Amy years ago but I’m a bigger person/ give benefit of a doubt/ forgave/ can’t think ill of anybody, just how I am etc. So I open mu house to John and then I’m shocked when he steals from me. No, I have to know that John is a pile of crap who need to be avoided and not shown hospitality.

        You’re exactly where you need to be, F-forgiveness, Congratulations, you’ve achieved meh. Your full focus is on yourself and once you’ve focused on yourself, you’ve moved to idyllic town and published a book. Let other people be bigger, you just enjoy yourself.

        • Wow Persephone! It sounds to me that you have forgiven! You got on with your life and you’re not seeking any vengeance against him. I say that you have forgiven because you don’t worry about what’s going on with the fuckwit. You leave any karma to somebody else (whether karma is delivered by a divine being or through the fuckwit’s own bad decisions.) One thing that I learned is that forgiveness does not mean that I ever have to see, talk, or hear about the fuckwit again. Or if I do hear about him, that I don’t have crappy things to say about him. Forgiveness does not mean that I will forget any of the shitty things that the fuckwit did. It just means that I no longer allow those things to cause havoc in my soul. It truly sounds like you found your Tuesday. Congratulations!

      • Xioba Xioba, I ain’t forgiving shit. Nope, ain’t gonna happen. He isn’t sorry. He is not repentant. When he is repentant, makes reparations and offers me a public apology perhaps I’ll consider it. Until that unlikely event occurs I’m not forgiving him.

        How are you less a person for not forgiving the unforgivable? I’m not forgiving Hitler or Osama Bin Laden either.

      • XX, my sons have a chronic bone to pick with me because their FWF (FW father) tells them that I refused to forgive him…. FW makes things look like he is a poor forest creature and I am the ogre.

        Did he ASK for forgiveness? NO.
        Did he do ANYTHING, no matter how small, to repair the harm he had done? NO.
        Did he at least SAY that x, y and z was going to change (never mind actions versus words)? NO.

        Did he ask me if I wasn’t going to miss “your little bug” (a.k.a. FW). YES…
        My answer: I’m a parasitologist… You’re just a species I took too long time to identify.

      • I became fascinated with the concept of forgiveness for a little while, but only in an abstract sense. I worked as an advocate for crime victims and many struggled with the idea of forgiveness towards perpetrators. That’s a real problem when a dangerous perp desperately needs to be kept behind bars.
        I had to learn to talk to people from varying backgrounds regarding forgiveness vs. enabling despite the fact that forgiveness has no appeal to me personally.

        I’ve always been able to eventually move past offenses done to me, usually at the moment the perpetrator is no longer any danger to me or mine. Then, “poof,” like magic, the perps disappear from my consciousness or shrink down to some meaningless blip in memory. “Oh yeah, remember that asshole?” As far as “forgiving” from a position of power (like employees or children who make mistakes), firgiveness seems like a way to correct an excessively punitive response. If you’re a softy to begin with, there’s no need to “correct” (except maybe toughening up when you find yourself enabling).

        I wasn’t raised Christian or with any religion, just a sense of the golden rule. so the concept of forgiveness has always turned me into Scooby Doo (head tilt, “Rit iz?”). I honestly don’t understand it, except that perhaps that it beat revenge killing back in feudal days of yore when your neighbor might kill your whole family and burn your crops if you negged his sheep.

        In Schindler’s List, I thought Steven Spielberg really understood this “social engineering” aspect of religious concepts of forgiveness– that, in some ways, urging an aggressive psycho to be the “forgiver” is simply an appeal to the psycho’s hubris. That’s how I view the scene when Schindler attempts to prevent Goeth from killing the stable boy by offering Goeth the alternative ego/image-fodder of viewing himself as Christ-like and magnanimous. The stable boy gets a brief reprieve but, of course, Goeth gets bored of the magnanimity pose very quickly. https://youtu.be/RjOwOtOEKMg

        In traditional Judaism, the concept of forgiveness exists but it’s optional for the injured party and more about the effort made by the peretrator. If someone trespasses against you, they can make three formal requests that you forgive them but you’re not obligated to do so.

        Some westerners who adopt Eastern spiritual practices get kind of competitive about their own enlightenment. There are a lot of yoga-zillas around elbowing their way through life with their more-transcendent-than-thou sense of supremacy. But filmaker Akira Kurasawa would mock western adoption of these practices because they were formed within feudal caste systems and don’t necessarily adapt to life in modern democracies. For instance, Zen was created like a patch-up kit to reduce stress for indentured warriors who had no say over whether they fought, killed, lived or died on any given day. When your existence hinges on the whim of a feudal lord, who needs personal agency? What’s the point of hating that exploitative lord if there’s no escape? Better to “forgive” than to betray inner rebellion and get drawn and quartered. Then what’s the point of hating an enemy who isn’t your personal foe? Conversely, what’s the point of feeling bad for slaughtering the designated enemy and all his innocent kids, servants and concubines if you had no choice in the matter. Ohhhhmmmmm…. serenity now… namaste…
        I pardon you….

      • If someone jumped out of the bushes and murdered your family right before your eyes, would you forgive them? Would you forget? Of course not. Well my XW murdered my family and left me to bleed to death with a knife in my back. She did it intentionally, with malice and forethought and planning. Then she hired thugs (aka lawyers) to kick me while I was down and steal my wallet and all the cash she could grab. She tried to break my legs so I could never walk again (all metaphorically of course). She wasted our assets so our children will inherit far less. WHY THE FUCK WOULD I FORGIVE HER???

        I don’t know where this foolishness comes from. There is NO benefit to you at all. There is only benefit to the cheater. I owe her nothing. She owes me 3 decades of a stolen life. She owes her kids for a lifetime of a broken family and all the shit and stigma that stems from that.

        Never forget either. Our memory of pain keeps us from doing stupid things again. Like touching the hot stove, or walking barefoot on hot tar. Bad experiences are like antibodies for our psychological immune system.

        • I totally agree. He stole my youth 32 yrs married and at this time in my life he decides that I haven’t been a good wife that he didn’t get enough attention. Now my world has been torched and he gets to move on with his happy ap and travel and live his life and ill be working the rest of mine. Hoping a judge will give me enough out of this mess to not live in a box. I will never forgive him.

    • I agree with Langele. You don’t have to forgive them if you don’t want to. Maybe you can forgive them for being defective, due to nature, nuture or God or their own personal choices – it doesn’t matter. If you are confident of your personal ethical choices during your relationship, ie you didn’t cheat on them while trying to start a family, then they and your ‘friend’ can go to hell. Your friend may mean well, but she doesn’t understand. Maybe she is brainwashed into accepting bad behaviour. While all humans deserve compassion, you are not obligated to accept shit behaviour.

      Wanting out of a relationship is one thing, cheating is another kettle of fish altogether. My doctor who is hard core religious, was none the less extremely understanding when I had to get a std test – they were horrified for my safety. You don’t need to be embarrassed – sensible people will completely understand. If not, change your doctor.

      On another note, I enjoy small town detective stories. I enjoy how the deceptive guilty person is found out in the end and exposed and led off by the law. The resolution is very satisfying, and unfortunately not how it always ends in real life. It’s not about revenge for me, more about people finding out what was really going on and the deceptive offender getting their just desserts off stage, so you go F-Forgiveness. I do wonder if I find this resolution theraputic given my personal experience.

  • “Eventually, she hits me with this nugget: “Well, you can never truly move on until you forgive him.””

    Speak for yourself, Becky.

    Glad you laid it out on the table for her. Broom her to the curb. If she comes around and wants your time, she can first lay out exactly how insultingly she treated you, that she won’t do it again, apologizes and earns her way into your yard, if not your home & good graces.

    Personally, I would dump her outright. She is not part of your bad-ass life. She can go work for her own.

    • I actually feel sorry for not-so-bright Becky, that she was fed this load of horse shit by some therapy website, or church person, or women’s magazine or whatever, and swallowed it whole. You’d think having been through divorce she’d not be so judgy/preachy but then …

      … We don’t know why Becky got divorced, do we? 🤔 Is it actually Becky that wants forgiveness?

      • If it is Becky that wants forgiveness, then it’s doubly important she get dumped by F-forgiveness.

        She doesn’t need anyone whispering that in her ear, let alone someone who has done the exact same thing to her ex-spouse.

      • My sister-in-law, who is extremely intelligent, told me that I had to forgive my ex. I know she had good intentions and her comment was probably coming from what she learned in her religious upbringing. She was not being judgmental or trying to preach to me; her concern was really just for me. So what I told her is that I had already forgiven the dick, but though I forgave him, it does not mean that I forget any of the shit that he did. It also does not mean that I have to quit calling him a dick. I firmly believe in calling a spade a spade. He is a dick, and his skank is a skank. I don’t know if Becky was ‘preaching’, but if she is like my sister-in-law, Becky probably thought FF’s ‘negativity’ meant that FF hadn’t yet forgiven. In my reply to my sister-in-law, I initially told her what forgiveness does NOT mean. First – Forgiveness is not a feeling. I can still be angry at the injustice of it all. Second – It’s not letting the perpetrator off the hook. He can, and should, still be required to make restitution. Third – It’s not forgetting all of the shitty things that he did. Fourth – It does NOT mean that I have to trust the dick again. That would be highly irresponsible of me. Fifth – It’s not being friendly with him again. After telling her what forgiveness is not, I told her what forgiveness is. It’s these six things: One – It’s an act of the will. I chose to forgive the dick. Two – It’s choosing to detach from revenge. Three – It’s trusting God will bring perfect justice in His time (and in His way.) Four – It’s knowing it’s okay not to like the dick; but if I want (and I don’t want), I can still love him. Five – It’s still being able to set and enforce healthy boundaries with the dick. Six – It’s focusing less on my rights and on my responsibility to forgive. (Not everybody believes that it’s a responsibility to forgive, but that’s a requirement specifically mentioned in The Lord’s Prayer.)

  • FF
    I too can never forgive after he destroyed our 35 marriage. It’s been 5 years now and it seems my sister who has been happily married for 50 years is always asking when will I forgive him? “It’s better for you mentally and emotionally” she says.
    I’ve also read many articles advising chumps to forgive so to “free” yourself. I don’t think I will ever get there
    knowing his life is happier and financially better than mine living with the second ow. If I don’t feel Meh now,
    don’t think I ever will. The pain and cruelty that he caused with never an apology will stay with me forever.
    Forgiveness? Never 😈

    • I will not forgive. However I am perfectly FREE. I am free to cut her out of my life. I am free to parent and enjoy my children. I am free to rebuild as best I can with the years I have left. I am free to enjoy the company of a women (albeit with my sheilds up). Will I ever recover financially? Nope. Will I ever believe in soul mates again? Nope. Will I ever sleep soundly without nightmares? Nope. Will I ever be free of the stress-induced physical ailments? Nope. Will I ever not have cPTSD? Nope. Would “forgiveness” fix any of that? Nope.

      • Quantum-
        Yes-it wouldn’t take away any of that.
        Forgiveness would exonerate them from their responsibility. They should be dedicating energy and effort to try to chip away at their debt to those they have so harmed.
        The onus is on them to try to compensate their victims, at whose expense they took a free ride to indulge their whims and tastes.

    • I think the refusal to forgive is a defense mechanism. When you are badly hurt, forgiving and forgetting leave us wide open for more pain and suffering. Listen to your gut. Do you think the momma bear forgives and forgets the one that hurts her cubs? Nope, she eats them .
      On another note, forgiveness gives the narcissist a green flag to keep hurting and to not be blamed.. She (or he)forgave me! See! It wasn’t that bad! See, I am a good person!

  • Forgiveness trolls…my eyes rolled into my head and stuck.

    I cannot stand the smug forgiveness trolls. Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation, it is NOT having a relationship with the ex, it is between you and God.

    Chump Lady describes it best as “Meh”. It basically means you DO NOT CARE about them or their life. You move on to your fabulous life without them. It sounds like you are there and it is a wonderful freeing feeling.

    But a little caveat: if you are one of the blessed ones who spawned with the FW (me included) you do need to care if they put your kid in danger. Protecting your kids from drunk driving, being exposed to drugs, being left alone for days on end, not paying support, etc is still “Meh” but Mama grizzly bear “Meh”. Forgiveness does not mean they are off scott free, they still have to follow the law and you need to cooperate with authorities if necessary. Been there, done that, have the paperwork to prove it.

    • Absolutely Gonegirl. The only space my ex occupies in my head is where she intersects with my kids health and well-being. Mine are off to college this fall but her influence continues. So I still have to be vigilant about that.

      Forgiveness?!? Why forgive someone who hasn’t asked for it and demonstrated remorse? CL quoted Desmond Tutu a while back about forgiveness but I can’t find the quote. It is eloquent and says exactly how I feel about forgiveness.

    • Forgiveness trolls! Yes! This term and this post just changed my life. From now on, I can smirk in my smug little mind when they try to extract their tolls from me. CL, thank you for this one, for many years to come. I don’t know how you come up with this stuff.

  • Forgiveness only means that you don’t let them have rent free space in your head. It doesn’t mean that you need to pick up the snake so it can bite you again. You can forgive and still have healthy boundaries and self-respect.

  • I forgive like a bank forgives.

    If they loan you money and you don’t pay it back, they let you keep it. They don’t come after it.

    They also are done with you as a customer and they don’t loan you any more money.

    Forgiveness is also like taking out the garbage. I am still repelled by garbage. I still have negative feelings about garbage but it’s on the curb instead of inside my house.

    One thing I know for sure about this subject is that is a personal private individual process and NOT for one person to determine for another.

    I don’t know many people who would foist their ideas of forgiveness on others if you were talking about rapist or murderer who harmed you or a loved one. And people who cheat are in that class of criminals. I believe it’s why adultery is a commandment.

    IMHO

    • My exact definition too.

      CL and Velvet Hammer both said it well!

      Sometimes people give advice for their own selfish reasons, either to get something from you or to justify themselves. Our writer’s friend was most likely in that space. If I were the writer of this letter to CL, I’d start wondering what secrets this “friend” is keeping and what agendas they’re harboring.

    • I remember when you posted this banking definition of forgiveness before, Velvet, maybe a year ago–I immediately latched onto it. It’s been so helpful. ❤️

      I’m definitely there: I have no desire to go after him for what he did or know anything about his life, but at the same time he’s lost all credit with me. I never want to see him again.

      My problem is that even though we’re NC and have been for nearly 2 years, every now and then he crops up like black mold in my life: when he “accidentally” PayPals money out of our former joint bank account that I removed him from (?!), or friends feel oh-so-compelled to inform me he married the AP, or he “accidentally” ships an expensive bottle of whiskey to my address (former marital home) with no way to return to sender (left that sh*t on the porch and someone eventually took it 🤷‍♀️).

      When that happens, I get really, really angry because he throws off my fragile state of meh. It’s like I’m trying to cross the smoking chasm he made of my life on a tightrope so I can get to solid ground on the other side, and I’m doing a great job, but he keeps reaching out of nowhere and trying to pull me off, back into the chasm. I know he’s probably not even doing it on purpose: he’s just doing what he always did–living his life however he wants to with no thought for how it impacts the people around him. But that makes me even MORE furious because the smoking devastation he made of our life together means nothing to him; it doesn’t even make a dent.

      It’s when I think like this that I want bad things to happen to him–not so that he’ll realize what he did; I think he’s incapable, but so that the karma wheel can at least balance out a little bit. I want him to suffer like he’s caused other people to suffer. And that disturbs me. I don’t know if I think of myself as a good person, per se, but I’d certainly like to be a person who doesn’t actively wish harm on another human being. However, if I’m being honest with myself, I do wish him harm. If someone told me he’d been in a bike wreck and were paralyzed from the waist down, I would think, “Good.” That’s pretty awful. And worse, I don’t see it changing….

      Maybe it’s early days, only 2 years and change from the exit affair and abandonment? Maybe I will some day truly get to meh and not care what happens to him?

      Anybody who’s been through this and gotten some resolution? I’d love to hear your stories.

      • Just my opinion to the way they return like mold – I think they do it on purpose. They realize you are approaching the blissful space of true ‘meh’ and they can’t allow it.

        At the moment I realized this was true for my situation it gave me power. Power to call him out on his shallow, self-serving manipulation. It caught him off guard and for the past 2 years it’s been nothing. It’s been amazing.

        If they manipulated while you were together, why wouldn’t they do it now? I don’t believe anything they do after is ‘unintentional’, especially if you are NC. They feed off the energy that is the result of the trauma they cause and will continue to seek it out. They love feeling like they are superior because you don’t know they are doing it. The best thing you can do (IMO) is 100% ignore them or actually, very calmly and matter of factly – call them on their BS. Then, calmly walk away and move on with your amazing life.

        • Yeah, he’s definitely done some phishing with emails with headings like “Vehicle safety recall for your car….” I don’t read any of them (only bumped into that one b/c I had to go into Spam for something—left it where it lay). They’re just IEDs lying in wait for me to step on them. You’re right they can’t stand the NC; that’s at least 25% of why I’m doing it. I know I can’t get him to see that what he did to me was wrong. But I can deprive him of all kibbles. And there’s nothing a narcissist hates more. If kibble withdrawal is the only suffering I ever inflict, I might be OK with that. Thanks, Boots.

        • “Power to call him out on his shallow, self-serving manipulation. It caught him off guard and for the past 2 years it’s been nothing.”

          Just goes to show that cheaters don’t change. Chumps have to, if we want something better for ourselves. My ex only left me alone after I stopped playing along. After I left and was working out the abusive dynamics and seeing through his BS – but hadn’t yet gone NC – fuckwit could still make me feel terrible, but he couldn’t bully me into feeling guilty, coming back or going along with his narrative. I called him out. I was angry and ugly. I demanded he repay me. I did not get anything I asked for, but I did get discarded and blocked. Which, from an abusive creep, is the best I can ever expect.

      • Being cheated on is the devastating and brutal and cruel and horrific INTENTIONAL infliction of severe emotional distress that causes MASSIVE damage. Deep wounds leave scars and may hurt from time to time. Your thoughts and feelings sound like a common and normal human response to me.

        When I learned some girl, a full head taller, grabbed my daughter, who was tiny, and was shaking her and screaming in her face (it was a minister’s daughter) you can believe I felt
        like showing that girl what that felt like. And when the minister (the mother!) said she was not going to make her child, who was physically violent with my daughter, apologize, I felt like doing the same to her. I kept my hands to myself and involved the police. Officer Braun came to our house. He told my daughter how proud he was of her that she didn’t retaliate with violence. He gave her his business card with his work number on it and said she could call him for help if she ever needed it. He encouraged her to go back to school and told her that he had her back. He gave her encouragement and tools to handle a similar situation in the future. I see that as victory. The mean abusive minister’s child got none of that and will continue to reap the results of her thoughts and actions. It’s the law of cause and effect. We were done with that family. I heard through the grapevine they were very troubled by our refusal to associate with them further.

        Shunning is an effective punishment….it keeps the creeps out of my life, which I see as effectively resolving things. Who cares how the garbage feels? As long as it’s out of my house and not stinking it up.

        No police are coming to assist us, but cheaters make crap decisions and, like any good recipe, only get results as good as the ingredients.

        Cheaters rip themselves off and aren’t bright enough to know it. They keep themselves in the cheap seats of life. You can’t make anyone sorry, but if you hurt and abuse someone intentionally and you’re not sorry, it means you are a sorry human being.

        Chump Lady said it the other day “their punishment is that they chose a person they can’t trust.”
        Their ignorance doesn’t diminish the punishment. It’s enough that I know and am not languishing in the gutter right alongside them.

        You’re bothered by THOUGHTS of harming someone who didn’t care at all about ACTUALLY hurting you? You sound like a good person to me. It’s been three and a half years for me and I get ambushed by dark thoughts and wishes involving the cheaters. I just notice it when it comes in the front door of my mind and open the back door for it to exit.

        Think whatever you want. Just don’t act on it like cheaters do. That’s the difference between a jerk and a good person.

        On my mind again lately is Laura Ingalls, who was super classy declining to go on the buggy ride with Almanzo when he showed up with Nellie Oleson. She had no use for a conflicted man who had no boundaries. Little House on WTF Prairie.

        (IMHO)

        • I remember that from the book. Yep. I wonder if he continued to have weak boundaries or she straightened him out. They stayed together and in subsequent writings she never expressed any misgivings about him.

      • Possible to close that bank account and start a brand new one, possibly at a different bank?

        Also, I like to give unwanted gifts to some uninvolved deserving party. Immediately. Don’t want that stuff in my space. The wonderful ladies at dog day care absolutely loved the unwanted flowers x sent. I was upset when the flowers arrived but now when I look back, I smile, remembering their delight. It is a happy memory now.

        No response to x. It took a while but eventually he stopped with the gestures.

        • Yup, reversed the charges and closed that account immediately. Sent email from ol’ Best Regards trying to explain/excuse himself to Trash unread.

          I love the idea of passing on unwanted gifts/detritus, Ohana—was planning to give the whiskey to my sister if it was still there when I got back from vacation…. I’m hoping total NC will eventually extinguish the embers of attention-seeking. ❤️

      • I do feel myself wishing harm on him too.. this wound is fresh but it isn’t the first. Perhaps when I disentangle our lives and am fully free of him I will feel better.

        However, there is some level of pride I have in knowing that I was the one that boosted him up to a higher place, and now knowing that he is spiralling into a life he will regret, there is some solace in that for me. He’s an absolute train wreck of a human, and deserves all the fresh shit he has coming his way and rude awakenings. And maybe I haven’t had my Tuesday and my Meh is not here yet.. but knowing I am better and will always be better gives me peace. Halsey – Without Me – This song.. is my theme song.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RFV7Xg7q9o

        I was getting all the excuse messages for awhile too.. he just couldn’t stop. Finally I had to say.. you chose her, so fuck off and leave me alone. Wrote a massive email calling him out on all his bullshit.. he continued for the next day.. and it’s now been a week.. however, I am just waiting for him to pop up. Thinking about making a flow chart so the next time I get something I can just send it to him.. Is this about our divorce? Yes, ok continue. No? Fuckoff Fuckwit.. rinse and repeat.

        • ‘However, there is some level of pride I have in knowing that I was the one that boosted him up to a higher place, and now knowing that he is spiralling into a life he will regret, there is some solace in that for me.”

          I felt the same way. I only know some of the things that happened to him because our son was grown and married and he and his wife told me things. I saw the announcement of his demotion in the local news paper. I surprised me as I thought he would just dance off with whore and maintain what I had worked by his side for, while putting my own job advancement on hold. He knew as well as I did that I helped him get there. If he didn’t think that he would have dumped me before he got the promotion because he had been with the whore for at least six years behind my back.

          Treating a spouse like dirt has consequences and all too often most of the consequences seem to fall on the betrayed spouse, when you can get a front row seat to them them trudging around in the shit pile they created; more power to you.

    • This is it, exactly. Or if you loan a tool or a piece of jewelry to someone and they damage it or lose it or fail to return it, you don’t loan them anything again. And you make a note that this is not how “friends” behave.

    • “One thing I know for sure about this subject is that is a personal private individual process and NOT for one person to determine for another.”

      Exactly.

      I considered him forgiven when I no longer longed to see him floating face down in the Ohio River.

      Once that was done I never wished him harm, or did anything to cause him harm. I did however enjoy schadenfreude when I heard he was busted, and lost his cushy office job. I make no apologies for that. Mayor done good.

      Mayor didn’t like being conned, and he had the power to do something about it. I do regret not going and thanking the mayor, but that might have been unseemly.

    • Oh, Velvet Hammer, how your comment on commandments brought back a rush of memories about Cheater #2 and the Town Bicycle (TB).

      She “defended” herself by maintaining she was “a good Christian wife and mother”. When I pointed out that she conveniently forgot about those commandments about adultery, bearing false witness and coveting (um, four out of ten????), she sputtered some self-righteous BS about Jesus forgives. Well, bully for Jesus, but I’m not divine. I’m not inclinded to forgive hypocrites.

    • Adultery hurts as much as those other crimes. It’s changes your life forever no matter what else happens. It has torn my whole family apart. Tomorrow will be 3 months since he left. I want so much NOT TO CARE!!! THE AP is the one who sent me to the chumplady page!!!!! She is completely hateful trash.

      • I hope that ap eats shit very soon. When she does she will recognize it right away, after all she was a part of preparing the sandwiches.

        My fw during the year of discard would tell me he was going out to ride around with one of the guys because he couldn’t sleep. He would come home at about 3 am and sleep until he had to go to work.

        I wondered after he left if he would try to use the same excuse for her. I will never know, but I am sure he used some excuse. Or he might have just fucked around while he was working. Once he got demoted I think he kind of lost his will to pretend to be a stand up guy. At least while he was still on the PD.

        He did start going to school to be a preacher after he retired. Lol, I had to laugh when my son told me that.

  • Unlike the perpetrators of other crimes/misdeeds, cheaters are already given a pass by most who know them. They are inclined to blame the chump during discard. They are “rewarded” with the spoils of Schmoopie.

    The recent Mayo clinic piece on reconciliation made me think that infidelity is more akin to learning your babysitter’s boyfriend has been molesting your child for months with her knowledge. What part of that deliberate evil can be excused or forgiven?

    The trip to “meh” is filled with trauma, grief and loss that our society does not understand or provide sufficient remedy.

  • You have to work out what you mean by forgiveness.

    Some people – usually the people who aren’t personally devastated – think it means a clean slate for everyone, no consequences, and everything goes Back The Way It Was

    People who talk like this are unthinking idiots.

    I believe forgiveness is possible. I’d argue that it’s necessary for true peace of soul. The evidence suggests that doing it right produces measurable clinical improvements.

    But it DOESN’T mean what these idiots say it means.

    I like Fitzgibbons and Enright’s definition, because it’s long and demanding:

    “People, on rationally determining that they have been unfairly treated, forgive when they wilfully abandon resentment and related responses (to which they have a right) and endeavour to respond to the wrongdoer based on the moral principle of beneficence, which may include compassion, unconditional worth, generosity, and moral love (to which the wrongdoer, by nature of the hurtful act or acts, has no right).”

    This is not easy. It is not fairy dust. Some people can’t get there.

    It is not saying a few nice words. It requires a lengthy process of uncovering damage, conscious decisions, and hard emotional work that uses rationality and the will.

    Most Chumps are deeply wounded. They need a long time to gather their resources, get beyond survival mode, and clear their minds sufficiently to think this through.

    Chumps are entitled to – they NEED – this time and space if they want to work towards unilateral closure and rearranging their mental furniture to this extent.

    But that’s up to them, and if it happens, it happens on its own timetable.

    And not so that Ms Pixie-Dust can feel good about being friends with Cheater and Chump, and feeling like she’s done her good deed for the day.

    • Extending compassion, generosity, unconditional worth and the like to him got me into this. I spun every bit of his awfulness in the most generous ways I could muster. I would not extend those things to him again, because now I know it is dangerous to do so.

      Forgiveness does not compute with someone who just isn’t made that way. Assholes will abuse you. Sharks will bite your limbs off. It’s what they do.

      Knowing what they are is freedom. In my case, ex is not a being capable of grasping a notion like forgiveness or valuing it as anything other than a fantastic opportunity to do further damage.

      If by some miracle he ever sprouts a soul, he can manage working toward redemption on his own. Doubt that day will ever come. Sad, but not in my power to fix it.

      • Yes, Cashmere, I agree. To “understand” and support sparkledick, I rationalized every bit of his cruelness, pettiness, arrogance, and humiliations. Regardless of the motives for this kind of behavior, it must not be tolerated. I was taught how to respect others and be empathetic, but I was not taught how to require it for myself.

      • @cashmere
        Well put! Just as a shark bites off limbs, my ex does what she does. It’s her nature. Just as a shark targets a swimmer as an easy meal, I was targeted by my ex.

        She has never apologized because, like a shark, she lacks the understanding that she’s done anything wrong. Early in the discovery process, in the midst of all the fresh trauma, she admonished “it’s a cruel world, get over it.”

        Just like a shark, she shows no remorse. And I’ve come to accept that I’ll never receive an apology. Would a shark apologize?

        It’s an exercise in futility to explain things to a shark as it is to my ex. The closest I can come to a state of forgiveness is to understand a sharks nature, heal myself, go forward, and live my best life while avoiding future shark encounters.

        • SHARKS!!! So on point!! (you owe me a new coffee and kleenex btw).

          Forgiveness is a highly personal evolutionary step. I am now 4 years since DD#2; my path has been the everything not to do except confront the APs and slash somebody’s tires (which I totally fantasized about but then, you know, consequences). I had to mourn the loss of my fantasy–picture perfect family, home, friends and profession–to see the reality: my husband kept cheating, lying, gaslighting, projecting and devaluing me AND THAT I ALLOWED IT for the sake of “our” fantasy. Ugh.

          My personal journey with forgiveness began with my change of attitude (read: emotional/psychological break) and that I no longer wanted to be cheated on, lied to, gaslit, projected on and devalued. I became mighty and stopped the pick-me-dance; I engaged in intensive (and expensive) IC with a wonderful therapist. She listened to me. For the first time in my adult life, I opened the emotional floodgates and wept. I had not cried like that since…shit, now that I think on it, ever. I had not cried like that ever.

          This is my version of forgiveness. I forgave myself for all.of.the.things. Now, I look at FW and smile the knowing smile of meh. He is still hiding his AP3 and 4 AND I DO NOT CARE. I am just fine as I am and as I was. My value is no longer measured by his tantrums and “needs for strange”.

          Not gonna lie–this part has sucked. But it was a necessary suck to reach my own level of IDNGAF. Snark intact and eyes WIDE open but forgiveness in my heart.

          Now…about shark week…..

      • I’m with you here, Cashmere. I see fairy dust forgiveness as spackling – stuff for chumps. Exactly what got me into/kept me in an abusive situation.

        A deep desire to please others – internalized from FOO and societal norms and expectations – has held me back since I was a little girl. At forty, I’m finally figuring it out. I am not going to conform to or be held hostage by others’ ideas of what I should be. This kept me kept for too long. Authenticity is the standard I’m holding myself to now. I’ve learned that when people pressure me to be a “good girl,” it usually stems from their own insecurities, personal needs, or both. It’s not because they have lofty morals, nor do they actually care about me; they are not respecting my individuality, and they are not taking my boundaries or needs into consideration. These people are manipulative, entitled hypocrites. Mutual compromise and mutual consent are the keys to reciprocity.

        • I agree totally and I’m starting to think forgiveness is really about acknowledging a personal mistake in accepting someone in good faith that didn’t earn it, and then being kind to yourself by moving forward without them. That is, forgiveness is solely about you and not about giving a free pass to the deceitful cheater so they can reinforce to themselves how ‘nice’ they like to think they are.

        • Agree, b&r! For me forgiveness was always very dangerous, because it would be the moment I would start loving them again. I’d think: well every human can fail, I can fail too and I would like to be foreigner. Treat others like you would like to be treated. And yoppa, I’d create my own mental tabula rasa and let hopium get me back into their mess!

          So no forgiveness for me, thanks. I’d just like them to slowly disappear from my mind.

    • I agree that people that recommend that we forgive have never been betrayed or had their reality destroyed in the cruel, depraved ways that we have. Thirty-five years married, almost five years divorced and I am just glad to have survived. Have kept my job and kept up with the house, and am planning to retire in February 2022. Am I thriving? It certainly doesn’t feel like it. Hopefully I am on my way.
      He, nor his family, will never be forgiven by me.

      (And CL, love the part that “snarky” is acceptable!)

  • If your ex came to you sincerely, acknowledged the wrong he did publicly and privately, made amends in a real and substantive way and to your satisfaction, and did not betray others in the future despite the opportuity and time to do so…then perhaps forgiveness would be on the table. Until then, he hasn’t earned it. (And if he had the character to do all of the above, he wouldn’t be the man capable of doing what he did.) What are the chances he will earn it? About 0.00000000000000000000000000000001 % is my guess.

    • Your view on forgiveness aligns quite closely with mine. I think there is a big difference between religious forgiveness and secular forgiveness.

      I consider religious forgiveness to be a kind of black-and-white switch-flipping thing, where you confess your sins and get absolved, so you get to go to Heaven again instead of Hell after death. There are no notable mortal world consequences.

      Secular forgiveness is a process more like a pardon in the criminal justice system. The offender commits their crime, gets caught, gets convicted, gets sentenced, goes through their punishment and rehabilitation, demonstrates their remorse, gets released, pays restitution/fines and otherwise makes amends, does not commit further crimes, lives properly for the prescribed amount of time, applies for a pardon, gets evaluated, and is finally pardoned. And it can be revoked at any time if they commit new crimes.

      Without any of those key elements, like, say, the punishment and rehabilitation and remorse and amends, there is no pardon. And since most of those don’t happen in infidelity, how can chumps forgive?

      My life was upended by betrayal and I went through soul-wrenching agony. The fact that I’ve built myself a better life was all my own hard work. I’ve reached indifference, with occasional touches of mild disappointment. My ex never faced serious consequences (still living the dream with schmoopie a decade later), never showed remorse, has never made amends to me. In fact, my ex keeps manipulating me through the kids. So without those key elements, I cannot forgive, not by my definition at least.

      To me, forgiveness has to be earned, and for infidelity, relies on the impossible, as you said. There has to be another good word to use for when the chump has recovered. Overcoming? Good Friday challenge to reframe that one.

    • According to your rigorous statistics, I guess the only cheater in the world that I would forgive is my mother. Not that she wants my forgiveness, but at least she was trying hard to be a good person during my formative years and didn’t want me to be like her. Then she kicked the bucket. But I still forgive her. I will leave the 0.00000000000000000000000000000001 % for her.

    • “Perhaps if it was one thing but it was a thousand things.” There’s a good and important distinction here. We may very well be willing to forgive some things but not others, and that doesn’t fit well with the type of forgiveness that the trolls have in mind. (Very much akin to the “mistakes were made” assertions made so often by cheaters — not all “mistakes” are equal.)

      Desiring to fuck other people for attention? As an abstract concept, sure, I can forgive that — it’s very much who she is, and something I accepted about her a long time ago.

      Actually going through with it multiple times? Sure, I can move on from that as well.

      Telling one of her fuckbuddies that I assaulted her? Nope. There will never be any forgiveness there, and if Becky can’t understand that, fuck her.

      Telling our 2 daughters that we were getting divorced on her own, with me out of the house, after agreeing to work with a therapist to devise a ‘best way’ of doing so? Never. There will never be forgiveness there.

      • Exactly! Sometimes what is done after D day is the reason for a lack of forgiveness. I truly believe it is unhealthy to bury some of this and claim it is for my own good. I had a therapist tell me I was going to get tired of carrying around a boulder by not forgiving…I feel as though I’ll be strong as hell.

      • Mine straight up threatened a completely false restraining order. Thank God my son was home at the time as a witness. I have NEVER been alone with her to this day. She kept wanting to come into the home and “look for her personal stuff”. Nope. Give me a list and I will deliver it. Meet in public places only. Not in this guilty-until-proven-innocent world of today. No forgiveness for that shit!

        Funny later she wanted a bitch-cookie because she DIDN’T file a false claim like her attorney “suggested”.

      • “Perhaps if it was one thing but it was a thousand things.”
        Perhaps if I knew all of the things! Part of my coming to terms with this betrayal, separation, divorce (yay! Done on 7/27/21!) is accepting that I will NEVER know every way that he betrayed me, cheated on me, lied to me either outright or by omission, or how much money he spent without my knowledge or approval, or whether he lost jobs or opted to change jobs because of his illicit activities, whether there are live children out there from his sexual activity outside of our marriage, or if there were abortions performed after his sexual ventures outside of our marriage.
        I want to know what I am actually forgiving before I forgive!

  • There was a lightness in my head once I forgave (or accepted) my xw’s choices. I felt “finished” with the process. I have no need to tell such. That’s her karma.

    And I won’t “forget” the pain and am triggered by typical moments. But the pain has softened.

    I now get to look at my involvement in that shit-show. I shoulda have never married her. That’s squarely on me.

    It’s easier to co-parent with her (not “easy”, just easier).

    I’m years out.

    • Tall One – You need to forgive yourself for your decision to marry her. Offer yourself the same grace as you offered her.

  • Indifference is ten times better than forgiveness. I was told, to be forgiven, the transgressor must make restitution, in Jewish law. IDK, but that would be the only way I would even entertain the idea. Blind forgiveness only perpetuates, the idea, cheating is no big deal.

    • Yes! Otherwise forgiveness falls on barren earth. A waste of good seed.

      Never banalize evil. Cheating is evil.

      • Excellent points Hcard and Clear Waters.
        Indifference IS better.

        FF is clearly at MEH and ROCKING this world!!

        My gut feeling tells me Becks is a tad jelly at FF’s Mightyness.

  • Your friend was giving her opinion. That doesn’t mean it’s right. Some people believe in aliens others don’t. Blaming your disabled sibling. Cheap insult. Maybe she forgave him, this forgiveness business. forgiveness is forgetting bread on the way home not sharing his penis. What is the ow really like, crap with boundary issues. you deserve better and you know it. your ex and ow deserve each other.

  • Dear FF, I would ask ‘Becky’ why on Earth would you want to be a “better person” than Fuckwit.

    FW is alive, isn’t he? So, by definition, you ARE a better person. He had a chance to rebuild his life since you were such a ‘deadweight’ in it, didn’t he? And what difference would forgiveness make in FW’s life? A new host to parasitize?

    I just got back from visiting my son. He told me he felt sorry for me and for his FWF (fuckwit father) because we were “both lonely”. FW and I are both almost 70, divorced for 4 years, DD was 5 years ago, hindsight (through CL’s and CN’s lenses) revealed many affairs.

    I said “Whoa, son, I live alone (thank God!), but I am NOT lonely! I have a great job that I love, students and good friends. And I even have a cat. If your father is alone it is because he is S.T.U.P.I.D. He miscalculated his entitlements and now no younger woman is going to fall for him because he is broke. I am the one who feels sorry here, because you are going to have a deadweight on your hands in a few years”.

    Not to mention FW’s miscalculations of his professional choices in spite of all my advice.

    Forgiveness in so many cases is just a waste of time. You got on with your life and I can’t wait to read your books.

  • There are two models of forgiveness:
    1. The ask/give model, in which the transgressor admits the transgression, asks for forgiveness, and then is granted it. This requires acknowledgement, regret (and usually amends) on the part of the transgressor, and generosity on the part of the transgressed against. This is basically the New Testament model: God is the most generous guy out there and will forgive anyone (even though we don’t really deserve it), but you do need to acknowledge your sins and ask for forgiveness. This is how we teach little kids about forgiveness (“first admit you took the cookie and say you’re sorry, and then I’ll forgive you”).
    2. The unitary model, in which the transgressed against unilaterally forgives, with no participation from the transgressor. This includes forgiving people who have no remorse or are dead and gone, and therefore can’t or won’t ask for forgiveness in the first place. This is what people are talking about, usually, when they say “you need to forgive for your own good, because it’s turning you into a bitter bunny”.

    I think it’s important to distinguish between these two modes in these discussions. The ask/give model is normal and commonplace in all kinds of relationships (particularly parent/child, but also between spouses). The unitary model is pretty rare. They shouldn’t be conflated.

    • There are two models of forgiveness:
      1. The ask/give model, in which the transgressor admits the transgression, asks for forgiveness, and then is granted it. This requires acknowledgement, regret (and usually amends) on the part of the transgressor, and generosity on the part of the transgressed against.

      this. this infers the transgressor has the emotional capacity to understand their transgressions. i dunno. recently, i had a thought that my X hasn’t the capacity, he really doesn’t. i don’t know why, i mean, i have some ideas why but will i ever know why? no. he’s a high-functioning exec. and makes big complex decisions at work but he hasn’t the emotional capacity to share his feelings in an intimate relationship. that’s it.

      so, is it wise to attempt ask/give model of forgiveness with someone who hasn’t the capacity? no, it is not.

      you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.

      PS it was pretty liberating to have this thought, i’ve got to say

      • A friend from long ago claims her ex “lacks emotional courage”. A bunk excuse. He holds a doctorate, speaks several languages and is an associate uni prof. And he used her and her father to get a green card, complete his studies (money she inherited) and finally launch his career at age 40 after moving to a foreign country.
        I don’t think she can face what a manipulative p.o.s. she married and had a daughter with.

      • “so, is it wise to attempt ask/give model of forgiveness with someone who hasn’t the capacity? no, it is not.”

        Agreed. It is not wise to participate in ask/give model of anything with an abuser. When I finally grasped this, months after I’d left, I stopped asking my ex for closure, remorse or amends. I freed myself from the cycle. Genuinely liberating. Damn it feels good.

  • For me this one is easy – I don’t need to forgive him because according to his account of our 20 years together he did nothing wrong – in fact everything including the serial cheating was my fault (and that of my family of origin) – just like magic there is nothing that I need to forgive him for. In fact, he clearly doesn’t want forgiveness – why would he- he is just an innocent bystander.

    I have however forgiven myself for ever marrying such a disordered person. I also have asked for and received forgiveness from my 3 amazing adult children who grew up with this monster in their home (they forgave my spackling that they let me know in no uncertain terms they saw through by the time he left).

    • Yes! We must forgive ourselves. There is no obligation to forgive the cheater, especially if they haven’t earned it.

    • Forgiveness, for me was never a path to move on (that path is very personal BTW.) It helped that I had a therapist who did not buy into the “you have to forgive to move on” line of thinking. She helped me find my path for moving forward which was: you have to let go of the marriage, the fantasy of the future, the what ifs, the self blame and the anger to move on. For me that has worked.

    • Strangely, I have forgiven an abusive family member and there is no sorrow on his part. It’s clear that there are MH issues and his life is a total mess. We are no contact and have been for years. Strong boundaries in place, and I have compassion (in my mind) for him.
      It’s hard to forgive when you feel that you’ve been pushed into a deep pit that you keep trying to climb out of and you think FW is happy and living the dream.
      We were victimized and yet feeling like a victim doesn’t help us. I think the whole forgiveness thing is thought of by many as a way for us to not continue to feel victimized.
      Life is what we make it type of thinking. Let’s all be happy.
      I think the good intentioned people think if we can forgive it will no longer burn a hole in our soul. But they should shut up and support us in other ways – we don’t need to be forgiveness shamed!

    • How can you know if a con artist is being genuine? I think this requirement makes sense in theory, but in practice? It puts the power in the cheater’s hands. This is why my version of closure and moving on – which is too distant from most definitions of forgiveness for me to relate to it as such – now has nothing to do with my ex’s feelings or beliefs.

  • What do people expect of us?! Your life explodes due to their cheating and we not only have to rewrite our lives but have to be a saint like Mother Teresa. I don’t believe that. I have had a great deal of trauma in my life and I don’t feel like I need to provide magic fairy dust of forgiveness to all that have done terrible things to me. Usually, that kind of forgiveness is all about them. I believe we can have forgiveness in that we don’t carry bitterness towards the person, we wish them well in life, but at a safe distance. To me forgiveness isn’t wiping the slate clean and as if nothing happened, that is what abusers want us to do so they can continue abusing us. In my opinion that is dangerous. I think you have forgiven him as much as anyone could expect. Becky is talking about something she is clueless about, plus add in wine and she may not even remember what she said.

    • “What do people expect of us?!”

      Absolutely. If folks want to judge and preach, they can start by telling cheaters to be genuinely remorseful, make amends and and provide closure, as the ones they abused and betrayed see fit.

      • Right? And what happens when someone does tell the cheater just that, is the cheater rejects that advice.

        Our preacher was straight out tough with fw, to the point he told cheater “you will never find happiness on the destruction of another person, you just won’t” He then washed his hands of cheater. He told him he could no longer counsel him, but he would refer him to a counselor if he needed help. FW didn’t want help; he had to for whatever reason continue with his own destruction.

  • I have my ex something better than forgiveness. I forgot about him. I used to snap a Rubber band on my wrist whenever I thought of him. Basically I trained my brain to avoid thinking about the whole 30+ year debacle that was my life. Eventually I just forgot and I avoid thinking about him. I don’t feel any powerful need to forgive him as he’s never said he’s sorry. He’s still nasty if our paths cross. Not knowing him now has brought me better world and I’m happy. And he had to fork up a lot of dough. I know. Bummer. Go forth my friends. Be happy and forgetful. Snap your rubber bands!!

    • Trudy, I’m a rubber band snapper too. I’m actively working on not ruminating about LTC Fuckface. SNAP!

      • Thirtythreeyearsachump I am going to try the rubber band idea. I am exhausted and depressed because of nearly constant thinking of my fw and all the agony and betrayal I’m feeling.

  • The problem is people use words with no concept of what they actually mean. Forgiveness is one of those concepts. The western vision of this is informed by Christianity. It watered down the original Jewish tradition. Originally forgiveness required atonement. Furthermore, you could not forgive someone who had not apologized and atoned. Some offenses were considered unforgivable. The victim was always able to refuse to forgive someone.

    Ultimately, there was a component of justice baked into the idea. As for myself, I don’t forgive and I don’t forget. I don’t dwell on it, but I choose to remember the danger I was in.

  • My ex apologized recently – 3 years post d day, 2 years post divorce.
    He told me he was filled with regret and guilt for his behaviour.
    I told him to move on with his life.

    Do I forgive him? No. He is irrelevant. This is all the peace I need to enjoy my lovely, fuckwit free life.
    I don’t wish him pain. He is my kids dad and One of them interacts with him.

    No one asks people with physically abusive spouses to forgive and make up. This is no different.

    I consider my ex a distant relative who I can interact with and even laugh with. We have similar interests, 25 years together, and he was always a fun guy. He made the divorce easy and gave me everything. Small check mark for him.

    Trust? No. He truly offers me nothing.

    I feel pretty meh. And happy. And my opinion is all that counts.

    • “No one asks people with physically abusive spouses to forgive and make up. This is no different.”

      That’s exactly it in a nutshell. That’s the comeback to Becky and the concept everyone needs to understand about cheating.

      • “No one asks people with physically abusive spouses to forgive and make up.”

        I really wish people would stop saying this, especially on this forum which is pretty enlightened. MANY people ask women with physically abusive spouses to forgive and make up. After watching him swing a canoe paddle at my head, my parents urged me to forgive him and go through with the wedding, which I wanted to cancel. I went through with the wedding. In just a few short years, he strangled me and dumped my unconscious body on the highway. My parents still thought I should forgive him. As did my pastor, a therapist or two and random friends, acquaintances and even a few strangers who couldn’t imagine why I was filing for divorce from “such a nice guy.”

        Years later when I was once again in an abusive relationship, my sister-in-law, aunt, a few cousins and my physician thought I should “forgive him and try harder to figure out what’s wrong in your relationship that makes him have to do that. A colleague at work told me I was sinning by divorcing my husband, and when I spat, “I’m divorcing him because he’s a cheating, abusive douche,” the colleague replied that I was bitter and not at all feminine. A therapist in an abuser program said, “If he hasn’t put you in the ICU, you don’t have a real problem.”

        In my experience — 3 ex-husbands of which 3 were cheaters, two were physically abusive and 3 were financially and sexually abusive and 2 were verbally and emotionally abusive — about the same number of people told me to forgive the physical abusers as told me to forgive the one who “only” cheated.

        People tell women to forgive physical abusers — EVEN WHEN HE ATTEMPTED TO MURDER THEM — all the time!

        • Omg-I am so sorry! I hope you have a good therapist and are working on why you pick such horrible partners! Hugs!

          • I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t mean to blame the victim here, but your choice of words had that effect. Better to have said, “are working on why you were susceptible to” than “why you pick.”

            • (I was thinking the same thing Adelante). Exploring the unconscious attraction to such people would be more helpful. Delving into f.o.o. patterns and relationship templates, etc.

          • I’m going to assume that you didn’t mean this in the way it came across, and I’m going to try to forgive the way it did come across. I didn’t choose horrible partners. I chose men who I believed to be good men . . . and I was wrong about that. I think every one of us chumps believed our partner to be a good person when we chose them. Even, I’m guessing, you.

        • I agree with you on this, The Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants. PLENTY of people say you should forgive a physical abuser.

        • Yep, you’re absolutely right. People do tell battered women to forgive.

          They also tell abused children to forgive. My parents were physically abusive, I’ve had it pushed on me and shoved down my throat my entire life that I need to forgive them. I’ve been insulted repeatedly just for going no contact with people who have attacked me and saying it’s not my job to forgive them. I’m not interested in doing anything more for them. They can live their life and I’ll live mine.

          That’s not good enough for many people. Even with physical abuse there are huge weights thrown on top of the victim to demand we do more for our abusers, as if our forgiveness will fix them and they don’t have to do any of their own work. You are completely right, it still happens with physical abuse.

          • There are abusers and those that are complicit or enable the abuser. I find the enablers almost more repulsive than the abusers. The enabler will demand that you, the one that suffered from abuse, forgive your abuser, but they would never dream of taking the abuser to task and demand the abuser beg for your forgiveness and try to make up for what they put you through. Very sick dynamic. Stay away from abusers and those that make excuses for them.

          • My kids are pissed because I won’t forgive their cheating father, who to this day goes out of his way to torment me in any way he can. They still make excuses for him, saying he was traumatized by my leaving!

            He gets a pass from them for any shitty thing he does to this day.

            Yet I am expected to ‘forgive and let the family heal’

            By ignoring his ongoing abuse

            I am NC, he abuses by proxy and legally

          • I’m sorry that happened to you.

            As a nurse, I hear all the time that “I don’t know why that nice old man doesn’t have more visitors. His children live right in town — why don’t they come to see him?”

            I know why. I’m sorry that you do, too.

    • Marge- my ex also recently apologized and said the same, that he was filled with regret over his behavior and all the pain it caused our family, and that his life feels meaningless and that he feels he squandered his one real chance at happiness. It was a lot to hear. He did not end up with AP but has been in a relationship with someone else for the past year. We are 4 months post divorce and 2.5 years post DDay. I feel I should forgive him- sort of – but also wonder why it took so long for him to see it this way (own the mistakes he made). Why do you think yours suddenly did?

      • He wants something. Don’t fall for it. He’s setting you up to be used. It’s not genuine. He “suddenly” feels remorse because he wants something.

      • Because it didn’t work out the way he thought it would, consequence free. If he ended up happily with the AP he would not be giving you a second thought. It’s self pity nothing more. Ignore it.

      • For my ex it is that his relationship (not the AP) has ended and he is suddenly realizing he is alone.

        My mom told me I should take him back. Ha. He has a baby with the recent gf. No thanks mom.

        Our son is going to live with him at university. I appreciate having a civil relationship, as it makes things simpler. But they live far ish away.

        Maybe he wants a friend? Not sure, but all he is getting from me is fair treatment.

        In the end, my parents and my MIL are very close and my old sister in law is one of my bests friends. Ex is the odd man out.

    • Yeah and if it was a business partner who purposefully lied and destroyed your business, no one would dare suggest that you should forgive that person – especially if that person went on to have a great new business at your expense and you were left worse off and to pick up all the pieces.

      • This is exactly what happened to me Zip as we had a business together. He started funneling funds out of it once the affair started. Then started doing cash jobs on the side so it was like leakage.
        I started our business. I funded it. Cheater got it in the divorce. So I lost my business, business partner, husband and job all in one fell swoop. And yes, in the beginning I was left worse off as I took on all the shared debt. And I was left to pick up all the pieces.

        I’m not bitter though. I’m better.

  • Wow. Thanks for printing my letter and for all the great advice and comments. You guys are an amazing community. You’ve been helping me from day one. Thanks for being awesome. Hang in there everyone!

    • Hi FF, I just wanted to say that, hot dog!, you are my personal hero! Living in a nice little house/community and publishing? Amazing! You’re living the dream. 🙂

  • Ahh, forgiveness, and all those thorny little nuances that go with it. I have heard them all. Why I should, why it on me, why it’s good for me, why it’s good for society, why it’s a must for me spiritually. On and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

    I say to those who think that they have a right to comment…..walk a mile in my shoes and then you will have the context and the right to judge. Maybe you will be able to erase that horror from your life easily, to wipe the slate clean. Of so, more power to you. Every other parent I have spoken to who has had a child murdered will tell you it’s not that simple.

    In my case cheater ex chose to kill his own son, my precious child, to exact revenge on me. The forgiveness trolls seem to think I should just sweep the whole thing under the rug and issue blanket forgiveness. The unspoken idea here is that my youngest son’s life, my anguish, my eldest son’s pain, that our very quality of life is not as valuable as cheater ex’s …what – reputation? legacy? image? That cheater ex was so much more important than the rest of us that he should have no consequences even posthumously.

    Sorry, not sorry. I name him as he was… a lying, cheating, thieving, conniving con man who betrayed everyone around him in the most heinous way possible. There is no way to sweeten up that pile of shit. To do otherwise is to negate the value of my child’s life, and that I will never do.

    In order to get on with my life, to maintain my sanity and to be able to find some peace I have had to step out of the equation. I decided that I simply could not forgive cheater ex. Some things are unforgivable.

    But I could step out of the way and turn the whole mess over to Spirit. It is in Spirit’s hands, and not my burden to carry anymore. Cheater ex’s deed is between him and Spirit, and not my business. There is comfort in that. It allows me to heal without the morass of grief and rage I carried. It has allowed me to find peace, and to build a better life. It honors my boys lives and mine as being just as valuable as cheater ex’s.

    Like that famous quote,”The best revenge is to live well.” I am endeavoring to do just that. It makes me smile to think how much cheater ex would hate that.

    • One other point I thought of….those who are demanding we forgive are coming from a morally superior place in their head. The think there have the right to judge what we should and shouldn’t do

      To forgive or not is our right and ours alone. No one else’s call.

    • Somebody indelicately commented a while back “Until you’ve walked in my shoes, stfu !”

  • Why should FF forgive? FF certainly did not mention anything about her ex begging for her forgiveness and handing over everything in the divorce because he was so ashamed of his actions. Even if ex did all that, again why would FF forgive? Most chumps will confirm that their cheaters didn’t give a rat’s ass whether the chump forgave them or not, made no difference.
    I’m guessing FF’s friend is just another run of the mill jealous asswipe, morale posturing so she can make off she is more evolved and superior to FF.
    Never ceases to amuse me how these “evolved” people demand everyone live a life of altruism, accept everyone else’s faults, differences, but are quite comfortable attacking and demeaning those that dare question or refuse to submit to their program.

  • I like the question, “what exactly does forgiveness look like to you?” I think that’s key. I’ve seen forgiveness defined differently by different people.

    I wrote this down from a talk I listened to, because I liked it so much:
    “Forgiveness (not seeking to hurt the other) vs reconciliation (friendly terms) vs restoration (put the relationship back as it was). The second two require repentance, genuine sorrow over the wrong that was done and a willingness to accept the consequences (from the abuser).”

    From this definition, I have forgiven my FW, but that’s it – to go farther requires work from him that he’s not willing to do.

      • I like this too. Not seeking to hurt the other is my basic definition of forgiveness, along with not demanding restitution for the harm committed by the Abuser. Those 2 actions are on my part and were difficult to do. Once I felt safe, I began to contemplate if I would, when I would, and why I would choose other actions such as being cordial, or extending hospitality, or even doing something good for the Abuser (nope, not there yet!).
        Reconciliation and restoration are 2 totally separate concepts that people often combine with forgiveness or totally mistake as forgiveness.

  • Would I forgive someone who assaulted me? Shot me in the street? Burned down my house? Kidnapped my child? No. And I don’t forgive the person who destroyed my life and scarred my children. His crimes are made worse by the fact I trusted him above all others. Forgiveness is not on my to-do list. Living my best life is and nothing more

  • Lordy lordy lordy lordy…..

    Ugh. “Forgiveness.” Now there’s a fraught idea.

    Calling them Forgiveness Trolls is apropos. They work for the RIC. They want the chump to take on the labor of forgiveness while the FW has to sit back and wait for it to flow in his direction. They want, as was mentioned upthread, everything to go back to the way it was. They want the trauma to disappear and forgiveness is the magic wand that makes it all go poof. And that’s all on the shoulders of the already traumatized chump; the FW has already done his part: he magnanimously forgave you, already, for being the kind of bad spouse that drove him to adultery.

    The Forgiveness Trolls post Sears catalogue memes of happy divorced co parents and step parents on their social media with headlines like “Our family may look different now but we forgive, communicate, and put our children first.”

    The Forgiveness Trolls victimize me over and over again: “Okay,” they say. “We kindof have an inkling of what he did but we feel that you are the one holding a grudge. We feel that you should forgive him and start planning Christmas dinners with him and the Wifetress. We feel that you are the sad sack holding everyone back.”

    It’s galling. As was mentioned upthread, they’d never say those sorts of things to a survivor of physical abuse. It’s just part of the RIC and our culture’s perspective that adultery is “kindof bad” but ultimately not that big of a deal. If it was the big deal-breaker that physical abuse was then there wouldn’t be so many comedies and sitcom plots that use adultery as a central plot device.

    *Camera pans to the right* “Oh no! My wife is back home; she was supposed to be at her parents’ house with the kids! Quick, Baby Doll, hop into this Easter Bunny suit that was laying here for this setup and hide in the closet!” *Laugh track kicks in and doesn’t stop while the bumbling FW keeps the clueless sitcom wife from opening the closet to retrieve a coat or a purse.*

    For people who haven’t lived through it, adultery is “not that big a deal.” It’s a bump in the road of your life; it’s a sitcom plot. And they sure do like to insinuate that you like to hold grudges and are some kind of unforgiving monster if you don’t see it the way they do.

    I’m sorry for the rant. I clearly have a lot of thoughts on the idea that a cheater *deserves* forgiveness from their chump.

    • The biggest Forgiveness Troll in my life was, no surprise, the FW himself. After GF#1 (the first D-Day trauma and the one, likely, with the STD) and GF#2 (his rebound but not much of a blip in my life), I took him back for a reconciliation. He moved into the house I had gotten for me and the kids to live in and I was full of forgiveness; I just wanted my husband back. I would forgive him anything. I was a snotty, weepy forgiveness monster and he soaked it all in.

      Then, during the 1.5 years of reconciliation before he found GF#3/Wifetress, I noticed something peculiar with him regarding forgiveness. Two people who had formerly featured heavily in his life, my mother and a good high school friend of his, had NOT forgiven him just yet. They hadn’t forgotten what he did to me; they had watched me crawl out of that pit he kicked me into! They both informed him, in no uncertain terms, that he was going to have to do a lot of work and prove himself to them in order to earn their forgiveness.

      FW never forgave them for that slight. He was furious with them. He would rant that I had taken him back and forgiven him so why wouldn’t [my mother] and [his former high school friend] do the same? He was legitimately angry with them that they didn’t forgive him the instant he had apologized. He called them monsters and that… made me feel very uncomfortable. After hearing that I began to think that maybe I had forgiven him much too quickly. I didn’t like how he felt he deserved it.

      I also noticed that, during reconciliation, that he felt that the words “I forgive you” really meant “I promise never to speak of your infidelity again and to trust you wholeheartedly because if I don’t do either of those things then I’m the one sabotaging this marriage.” He used that one a lot. Like, a lot!

      I definitely felt like I had forgiven him too soon and without just cause or any work on his end. Forgiveness had painted me into a corner of even more trauma. Thank God he found another affair partner and skipped off into the sunset because my forgiveness of his earlier affairs was trapping me in Hell.

      I have since, quietly and without letting anyone know (especially him; no contact and all), withdrawn my forgiveness. I looked into the mirror one day and said out loud, “You know what? I take it back. I don’t forgive him.” And I felt so good. I felt powerful and I felt at peace.

      All the things that the RIC and the Forgiveness Trolls say happens when you forgive didn’t happen for me; forgiving made my life Hell. Forgiveness was a yoke around my neck. Ironically, all the power and the peace of mind happened for me when I withdrew that forgiveness. It was an amazing feeling.

      I still haven’t forgiven him and he doesn’t know that. He doesn’t have to know; this is just for me.

  • Would you forgive a person who did this to your child? To your son or daughter? No! You would not! And you yourself are every bit as important as your children. Forgive him? Not a chance. For me, the most “forgiveness” means is “I don’t care at all what he does, what happens to him, not ever again.” And “forgetting”? Well, I forgot what it felt like to love him, that’s for sure.

    • My attorney (40+ years in divorce law) once commented that if you wouldn’t tolerate a type of behavior in a professional relationship, why would you tolerate it in your marriage? He said that in relation to how my ex was trying to manipulate his attorney (also very experienced). He was trying to handle his $700/hour attorney like he handled me, and that just doesn’t go with someone like that.

      • Elise, hahaha. Sounds like my FW.
        I think that what helped me was when FW’s lawyer realized that FW was lying to him and that I was dead serious about divorce.

  • My brother’s wife walked out the door abandoning him and their young children. They all fell apart. In what universe is that forgivable?

  • I totally agree with CL: “ 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 . . . forgiveness is meh. It’s acceptance. You reject this person’s centrality and let go of their power to hurt.”

    It’s been almost 7 years, 5 since divorce. I’m mostly NC (3 kids). I’m super busy with my wonderful life filled with my kids, work, my fiancé, new company we started, beloved pets, friends and extended family, reading, exercise, boating, remodeling my rental home, Netflix, etc etc etc. I trust XH and all the APs suck. I feel lucky I got away from his abuse. I feel sorry for his limitations as a human— his loss/absence of all that I think is worthwhile in life (integrity, deep connections, love, kindness).

    To anyone who criticizes me for my reactions in the face of XH’s abuse . . . They can fuck the hell right off! 😂. Unless they’ve walked in my shoes, they have no idea . . . Thank God for CL and the Great Chump Nation! You get “it.”

    • I love this “I feel sorry for his limitations as a human— his loss/absence of all that I think is worthwhile in life (integrity, deep connections, love, kindness).” – So many limitations.. they don’t know how to human.

      I can’t wait to be where you are.. what I am so looking forward to right now is changing my name back to my maiden name on all the things that matter.. the significance of that is something I cannot wait for. It’s going to feel glorious.

  • Yes, I think that forgiveness is such a misused term that I really don’t use much at all. It’s so misunderstood. I do believe in letting go. I believe that terminology is much more descriptive.

    My ex was very hard to live with. He was a jerk to leave our lives in chaos when he took off. Separation gave me space, but he didn’t behave any better. He really misbehaved during the divorce, so badly that his attorney turned on him and even changed sides at times. The attorneys decided that I had to be a saint to have put up with him for so long. Despite all of my ex’s attempts otherwise, I got a good settlement. Then he dragged out closeout, burning the last bridges in the process.

    Over-and-done. Thankfully I had no custody issues, and we took out everything requiring ongoing contact. I don’t wish him ill, but he’s out of my life for good. Some months back, a friend asked if I would take him back if he showed up again. No, I let go of him. He’s completely untrustworthy, and that’s that.

  • I am convinced people often confuse grief with a lack of forgiveness. In a sense, we never “move on” from this. It is part of our story forever. We lost something(s) that mattered to us, and that is not a moral failing to feel that loss. It is grief.

    As a pastor, I am convinced many are confused by what is meant by the word “forgiveness.” It is used often to manipulate victims of abuse. That is wrong.

    Many here have already explained what “forgiveness” is. I would just add that you cannot forgive something unless you first identify it as wrong. A bank cannot forgive a debt unless a debt exists. Denial of the debt’s existence is NOT forgiveness; it is denial.

    • Very well said. There is always a sliver of grief, particularly for those of us who had a “gray” divorce. Many years and two wonderful young adults later, and here I am.

      By identifying what my ex did and letting go of him and the wrongs, I am indeed free.

    • Well said.

      I am many years out and have been very happy in my second marriage for almost 27 years. Doesn’t mean, I don’t have scars (just as my husband does from his first marriage).

      I found CL and DM many years after our D, had not really thought of the ex for years. And quite honestly never really thought much about schmoops at all. She wasn’t the first and unfortunately for her, she wasn’t the last. I only know because I am very close to my daughter in law.

      What caused me to research was the crap my ex and schmoops pulled on my son and his family. (these folks do not change) When I found CL, I cried and laughed, and came to understand so much more of what really was truth. Through CL, I found a link to DM.

      Two folks doing good work. I didn’t tell folks what I had endured, I was ashamed, scared, confused, in shock etc. It predated both CL and DM. Years later, I found CN I spilled to my brother. Just a month earlier my sons dad had gotten real sick, and my son opened up to me and I opened up to him, he was caught in the trap of of course he loved his dad, but his dad had been such a selfish ass. I think our talks helped us. His dad then died. It helped me to release some anger at myself that I without realizing it had buried . I was angry because I felt like I was a doormat, because of my silence. (I had told my husband of course), but kept quiet to most everyone else.

      Anyway, my brother and I had planned on getting together and really getting into the story when we visited, but we had to delay our visit because of Covid shots. Then a week before our visit he and his wife both died on the same day. But, I am so glad I got to talk to him via phone and text. I kept all his texts and I still reread them.

      My son had just lost his Dad in Jan, then his favorite Uncle. He is still in TX working through the estate as executor.

      I stay on CN to help new chumps if there is any way I can. I am so happy baby chumps have CL and DM and those few dissenting voices in the crowd. My prayer is those voices grow too strong to be ignored.

      Sorry that’s a lot. Hope it makes sense. 2021 has been rough so far.

      • Ashamed, YES! And humiliated. I told my gynecologist I felt soiled when he told me about the STD. It was as if my FW had stood me on my head and taken a huge s*** in my vagina. Forgive him? He makes my skin crawl and he will never, ever touch me again.

      • I am very sorry for your loss Susie Lee.
        I hope you and your son can find comfort in each other and heal.

        My brothers are my main confidants and we are separated by one continent, one ocean and COVID as well. I can only begin to imagine how hard this must have been for you.

        Thanks for all your insight.

        ((Hugs))

        • Thank you.

          Yes it is hard being so far away from close family members isn’t it?

          My oldest brother died in Nov of last year, so my brother and I were still reeling from that, now it is just me.

          I am glad you can visit with your via phone and text etc. That in itself helped me and him a lot. My oldest brother was a bit older than us, so he never got adept with the texting. So mostly phone calls there.

      • Susie Lee,

        Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate the reminder that my voice is still helping people.

        My heart goes out to you and your family upon those losses! That is a lot.

        -Pastor David (DM)

  • I think the friend is really just using the wrong term- she’s calling “forgiveness “ what we at CN would call “ the loss of centrality” or reaching “meh”. “Meh” is just the absence of care or interest – which doesn’t require forgiveness. Forgiveness only matters when the chump still has an emotional investment.

    • You could have a point…maybe the friend was under the impression FF was giving her cheater too much head space and was really driving at letting it go, moving on and clumsily used the word forgiveness. Maybe.

  • This kind of attitude, that I AM RESPONSIBLE for FORGIVENESS, regardless of whether the X has even touched a toe into the remorse and amend-making baby pool, triggers my rage pretty quickly. Somehow, I will become a magically better, healthier, happier person, and quit embarrassing certain people with my snark, if I just FORGIVE him already. (Its so unattractive.)

    Um, not going to happen. Like respect, I give my forgiveness to those who show true remorse and regret for their actions and strive to never ever do such a deed again.

    I forgave MYSELF for allowing it to go on for far, far too long. X can go suck rotten eggs.

  • It is interesting to read these takes on forgiveness. It is a confusing topic for me so I’ve stopped trying to understand it. Foe me I just happy to feel nothing in his presence (like at family birthday parties) and to feel joy on occasion. I am happy to develop new interests and meet with old and new friends and foe that to not be the topic of conversation. If Becky is a good friend she is just working this stuff out for herself. I’d be forgiving of that and keep talking. Betrayal sucks, Divorce sucks and we need our friends. Look what she has done for you-bringing this topic to us to ponder and come to grips with. Kindness to ourselves and each other is our answer. There has been enough pain! Hugs! Good job FF for your success!!!

  • FF is overthinking this.

    She has forgiven her ex. She just doesn’t pretend he’s better than he is, and that doesn’t make her bitter.

    If her good friend believes that true forgiveness is being friends, or being solicitous and friendly to an abuser, FF is well within her rights to ask her questions about why she thinks forgiveness can only be real if it’s accompanied by friendliness and affection.

    Why not spread the message that forgiveness is a discipline, not a performance. Forgiveness is moving forward into reality, and sometimes, and difference toward your abuser is the best you are going to get.

    And if that’s okay .

    Let’s just keep pushing back on this idea that forgiveness is only real if it’s projected through a misty watercolor filter.

  • In the aftermath of DDay, I also got advice to forgive. I found the book “How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To” by Janis Spring to be very helpful to me. She covers all kinds of topics, including how might a person “forgive” someone who is unavailable to apologize and make amends. I really appreciated her framework. My takeaways are: you do not have to forgive anyone or anything to be a healthy person, to earn MY forgiveness, a person has to ask for it through a sincere apology and visibly and proactively work to make amends in a way that I agree is making amends, and that acceptance is different from forgiveness. Acceptance means that I accept that this happened to me and that you caused it, but I don’t agree with or forget what you did. I just choose not to dwell on it to the point where it dominates my life and thoughts. Bottom line — it is not MY responsibility to forgive you for the shit you did. It is YOUR responsibility to earn my forgiveness. And if you are not able to seek or earn my forgiveness, because you are dead or otherwise unavailable to me (no contact, etc.), then my only obligation to myself is to accept what happened and move on in a way that is healthy for ME. I have no obligations to you.

    I remember being in a yoga class where the ending meditation was all about forgiveness. I went up to the instructor afterward, and shared this framework. I told her that insisting that people forgive unforgivable things, and especially when the transgressor has not sought forgiveness, was itself an unhealthy burden on the victim. She listened and said she would modify her meditations in the future.

    Here is an example. My husband and I are still married. He did the work to repair our relationship. I understand what happened, and why (bipolar episode). That does not mean it does not hurt still. I do forgive him, but that forgiveness does not mean that I am not occasionally hurt or angry at what he did. We recently ran into his AP at a neighborhood concert. It was definitely triggering for me and I did not want to see or talk to him for a while after that. He apologized again and asked what he could do in the moment to help me feel better. I told him that not talking to him or seeing him for a while (a day or so) would be helpful, and even though that is not what he wanted to do, that is what he did.

  • During the mandatory divorce parenting class, the instructor talked about the importance of forgiveness and then put me on the spot for how I planned to forgive the fuckwit. And…fuckwit was sitting right next to me in the class. He thought it was a good idea to come to the same class and then chose to sit next to me. I blankly stared at the women and told her I couldn’t imagine forgiving him. Once class was over, the instructor asked the fuckwit and I to stay for a few minutes. She knelt down in front of us so that we were all huddled together close and told us that she felt God had put us with her that day so that she could tell Fuckwit he was about to make the biggest mistake of his life in leaving his wife of 20 years and 2 kids for his affair partner. The trauma was intense that day. This was back at the end of 2017 when I was only 2 months past DDay #1 (finding out my husband had a girlfriend) and 6 weeks past DDay #2 (discovering he was doing Craigslist casual encounters and his girlfriend, now wife, had responded to his ad).

    I’m mostly meh these days…as much as can be when still dealing with a fuckwit ex on kid expenses. Forgiveness doesn’t cross my mind. I don’t see it as a goal post or finish line in my healing process.

    • This is horrible! What an awful experience on top of everything else.
      Sounds like her inappropriate use of religion, forced on you, could have been reported.

  • This idea that you have to forgive someone in order to move on after infidelity is just so much psychobabble.

    Just because some people believe that doesn’t make it true.

    The best answer to give anyone who tells you that you need to forgive a cheater is “I know a lot of people believe that, but I’m not one of them.”

    If they ask, “what if the cheater apologizes?” I would say “He lied to me thousands [insert “hundreds” if you were luckier than I in that respect] of times, and very convincingly; I have no reason to believe anything he says no matter how how sincere he might SEEM to be.”

    • If they say “what if the cheater apologizes” I would just say, well if he does, I will then know what my reaction will be.

    • Absolutely. Some forgiveness troll I met tried to “counsel” me by asking me if fw had apologized. I said he had. Then this idiot said I needed to forgive and be friends with ex. I asked him what for, said I feel fine not forgiving and not being friends with assholes. I got crickets in response. He couldn’t think of an actual reason it would benefit me because there isn’t one. It’s just something people learn from the movies or hear from other shallow pod people and they think it’s wisdom.

      The idea that you must let go of outrage over something horrible that was done to you in order to feel better yourself fits Colbert’s word “truthy”- it sounds like it might be true, but if you examine it objectively, you go nah, it’s bullshit. In fact, at least some amount of outrage over injustices of all kinds is necessary in order to be a good person.

  • I forgive my asshole ex in the sense that I take his actions less personally. I see him as a broken human who fucks shit up for himself and collateral damages everything and everyone around him for his own selfish purposes- and that is *not* a reflection on me. That’s my definition of forgiveness. But i will never be chill with him or invite him for hangouts or anything like that. Losing contact with me is his consequence for his own fuckup and has nothing to do with forgiveness imo.
    Moving on also involves accepting that the person isn’t in your life for your own good. To me it sounds like you’ve got it. Don’t let her make you feel bad. Tbh some people just don’t know wtf they’re saying but throw things out there to sound wise or helpful.

  • When I first started this delightful journey, I often heard the expression “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”. I initially discarded that as fortune cookie philosophy, but it’s been critical to my path forward.

    I will never “forgive” (i.e., “It’s OK! No biggie!”) my ex-wife for destroying the life we built together, subjecting our children to this mess, or causing mental pain and anguish that I didn’t think was possible. I do not forgive her for the mid five-figure lawyer bills, fighting over assets (she didn’t understand that “splitting assets” means splitting them in half), or the bills I continue to pay to my therapist.

    But I have forgiven her. I have realized that her mental programming is that of a fundamentally different operating system, in which self-interest predominates and empathy and self-awareness do not exist. I will no longer wait for the apology I richly deserve but will never receive. In my view, “forgiving” means walking away from the conflict of a toxic drama that I cannot understand.

    And forgiveness is indeed a gift I have given myself. With forgiveness, I have moved on, rebuilt my life and a new home for my children, found a mutually respectful and loving relationship with a wonderful woman, and let go of my ex-wife’s ability to keep messing with the peace I deserve. Life is much better over here.

    In that sense, my ex-wife is forgiven. Living well is the best revenge.

  • I think people get confused between forgiveness and forgetting what they did. Resentment can eat you up. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Forgiveness=letting go of resentment. I have forgiven BUT I haven’t forgotten what she did. I divorced her. I remember when I was resentful, it made my ex wife central in my life. You can forgive someone and move on with your life. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be granted, especially if they are not deserving of it. Nor does granting forgiveness mean someone can continue walking all over you.

    • I agree Sirchumpalot! Forgiveness is about me and my heart..and life..and it has nothing to do with the offender.
      Forgiveness also does not replace the range of normal emotions (shock, anger, sadness, fear). These need to be experienced, expressed, witnessed, and released. I forgave cheater and adulteress, i did not forget what they did, and am just fine (8 years out, 25 year marriage, 2 devastated daughters, lost almost everything)
      Best i can recall..i arrived at fine/meh about 3 years out..
      ((eternal hugs to all))

  • Maybe we need a new word. In spite of all these explanations, “forgiveness” still feels to me like part of the old saw: “Forgive, forget, and start over.” That’s not at all what any chump needs to do to get to Tuesday. In fact, it’s counterproductive. For me, the end goal is to be able to set it all down on the side of the road and keep walking (and, after three years of no contact, I’m slowly getting there!)

    My German is extremely limited (okay, nonexistent) but I know it has wonderful sausage-nouns for all kinds of situations. Any German speakers? Is there one for this? If there isn’t a real one, I’d like to propose a made-up one: “lassfallenundgehweiter” which Google Translate tells me means, “Let go and walk on.” That’s the sentiment that feels right to me. It makes clear that the work isn’t in untangling or even understanding, but in allowing yourself to just lay it all the fuck down and not look back.

  • It always chaps my hide when someone else tells you to “forgive.” That’s real easy for you to toss around when it wasn’t your life. It wasn’t your heart. It wasn’t your finances. It wasn’t years of your life. You didn’t take the abuse or trauma. So no, I’m not going to pretend they’re a decent person just like I don’t pretend snakes aren’t venomous. Know your surroundings. Know what you’re dealing with. I do. They don’t.

    What it comes down to in these matters is the person saying it has their own interest. It’s either just convenient for them to pretend this never happened orrrr they don’t like what you say or do because of what it says about them or how they dealt with it.

  • Nope. Forgiveness isn’t on the table. I’m weary of these flippant remarks. These “well wishers” are the cruel cousins of vampires who soak up the electrolytes of chump misery.

    Fourleaf nailed it. Clueless Connies vomit up canned responses that are likely sourced from sitcom scripts. What would Mrs. Maisel do? And Connie, will you be citing Prime Time Tuesday as your research based psychological health advice?

    FW used to say I that I’m notorious for holding grudges. UBT, “You would be so much easier to live with if you would just let people stomp all over you and take advantage of your good graces.” Um, no.

    I’m not quite yet at MEH. But even when I reach it, forgiveness will be tucked under the banana peels and dog shit in the garbage can on the curb. Thanks, VH for that brilliant analogy 😉

  • I was married 21 years and now divorced almost 5-1/2. I think what people want to hear from is chumps when they inquire into whether we forgive is this
    “Oh yeah. Im happy now and thats just all water under the bridge. No sense being angry anymore. I just wish the best for everyone.”
    There is no way I would ever say this.
    I think chumps sometimes confuse forgiveness with indifference. I will NEVER forgive him and I honestly don’t even know if true forgiveness is even possible. As the years have rolled by I have become indifferent. I honestly do not care anything about my XH and what he is doing. I don’t care if he’s healthy, I don’t care if hes ill. I don’t care if he lives in a mansion or under a bridge. I don’t care if hes happy or miserable. I just dont care. About 2 years ago a friend asked me if my XH was remarried. It shocked me. Not because I cared but because I honestly didn’t know. It felt weird at first, not knowing if the man i was married to for 21 years was remarried or not.
    “I don’t know.” I said. “And I don’t care.” We both laughed. I think that was the moment I realized I was indifferent to him and his world
    I do have to add that if I found out he got hit by a bus or is now horribly disfigured I would giggle with glee😂. Maybe that’s petty but I don’t care.

    • I can’t wait to get to this point of indifference.

      I also think it is less about forgiveness and more about acceptance. I do not forgive the fuckwit for what he did, the trauma he caused, the pathological lying, the emotional abuse. And I never will. However, I accept that it has happened and that he is a shitty person. I accept that I cannot change the past, and I need to learn to live a life that is different than what I signed up for when I married the POS. I accept that he’s a different person than the one I married and that I need to let go. I cannot wait to have him in my rear view mirror and never have to contact him again.

      Forgiveness only belongs to those who deserve it, for those who make amends, who demonstrate remorse, and earn it. I forgive myself for my shitty picker and for staying long past when I knew I should leave. I forgive myself for not listening to my intuition. But I will never forgive him for taking the cowards way out, for hurting me in the worst possible way, repeatedly. Fuck that.

      • This. I accept the things that happened and I no longer think about “if only I had done this or I hadn’t said that!” or “how could he??!!” or “but this isn’t how it was supposed to be!” I am even glad that it happened–I once read that a good way to think about it is as a “course correction.” I was with a covert narcissist with a weak, shallow, disloyal character whose feelings and sense of commitment just switched off as soon as I wasn’t doing all of the emotional labour and just as easily switched to someone else. I can’t imagine anything more repulsive than being with him for one more minute, day, week, year, while he was anything but the partner I thought him to be for so long. So I accept and I am grateful. But forgive? Nu-uh. Forgive the lying and betrayal from someone who was supposed to be my best friend and life partner? Forgive him for blowing up our family because he found the “love of his life,” who is STILL with her husband five years in? Forgive him for using our kids as sounding-boards and confidantes about the separation and the AP and painting me as some kind of monster to justify his behaviour? (Asking him if he could let me know if he was taking the kids out for an evening so I wouldn’t plan to make supper translated to “She’s trying to control whether I can see you or not–but I won’t let her! I have every right to see you!” Telling him we’d need to set up a plan for shared residency if he was getting his own place rather than just having the kids wholesale move over to his place for the summer translated to “She won’t let you live with me! But I have every right! I could take her to court! I will do everything I can to make sure you can be with me!” From the guy who waited four years post-separation to get his own place, instead freeloading off of his mother). Forgive him for asking me to reconcile while he was fucking the AP (which I had absolutely no idea about at the time) and putting me through the emotional wringer for reasons I still can’t fathom and prolonging a horrible situation that could have ended months and months earlier? Forgive him for picking up the AP in front of the building WE BOTH WORK AT, because of how she is MY COLLEAGUE, even after I asked him to stop doing that? Forgive him for bringing my then-16 year old son with him to spy on the AP because she was meeting some other guy she was “just friends with” at his house for hours (also not her husband)? Forgive him for telling my daughter that Christmas was going to have to be scaled-back because money was tight, and then her finding his closet filled with wrapped gifts for the AP?

        I forgive myself for elevating him and believing so firmly that he was a better, smarter, kinder person with integrity when he is, in fact, a not very smart, not very kind person with zero integrity. And I accept all of the shitty things that happened. But I do not feel even the slightest compulsion to forgive him. I’m very, very close to “meh” and, once our kids are through university and we no longer have to engage over the related finances, I will never have to be in contact with him again. He’ll just be someone I used to know and that I would never have any interest in knowing now. If there’s any forgiveness needed, I guess he would need to forgive himself. But, as he doesn’t think he’s done anything that requires forgiveness, I assume it’s a moot point.

  • Do you have to forgive him FF? No you don’t “have” to do anything for him. He gave away that right the minute he cheated. Contract void. That’s it. Fuck all these people who think they know better or would have you think they do. Maybe because it makes them feel better about their own shitty choices, maybe because they are tired of listening to you ex stories, but not for your benefit. Nobody knows better what you need than you, so they can all fuck right off. Maybe your friend has her own agenda (probably) but in any case she needs to be honest with you, and herself.

    From what I came to understand, and all the comments and stories I have read here, forgiveness can take many forms. In my book when dealing with a person who has no issue hurting others for his own benefit, including then wife and children, and never ever even admit to any fault, it is foolish to turn the other cheek. That is just asking for more abuse, plain and simple. And I also agree that real forgiveness is something that needs to be earned, and at least start with some form of apology and attempt at reparation, so that ain’t gonna happen. The closest I’ve come is accepting my XFW’s nature, “trust that he sucks”, and moving on with my life. That’s one of the forms forgiveness can take in my type of situation. And look, it just happens to be Tuesday.

    I think you’re doing just fine FF, and your “friend” is just jealous.

  • It’s not my job to forgive someone who isn’t seeking forgiveness. I am not the almighty me bestowing my forgiveness on someone who does not give a care.

    IMO, forgiveness is for me, bestowed on me. I forgive myself for choosing poorly, for believing the lies, for thinking RIC could work with a disordered person, for putting my wants, needs, desires last.

    I don’t have to forgive anyone but me to move on.

  • Never mind forgiveness. What about revenge? They all say, move on, get a life, go online, have fun. How do you forget or forgive after being cheated on for years and publicly humiliated at the end of a 35 year marriage?

    • It’s completely unforgivable and you need to remember it so that your boundaries stay intact.
      You just stop caring about that person and don’t let his/her bullshit get to you anymore. That’s as good as it gets and it’s plenty good enough.

    • Yep it is right up there with “I hope we can be friends” Seriously, you lied to me for years, emotionally abused me, verbally abused me and stole my money to spend on your whore and you want to be friends. Then I gave you a chance when you fake apologized I let you come back and within three days you rained down hell on me again, even worse than the exit rage the first time. Yeah, NO.

      Beware of cheaters apologizing, they likely want to use you for something.

      If you must give them another chance make them go to an IC of your choice and spent a few months in counseling and proving they have walked away from the whore before you even think about giving them a chance, and even then, well honestly I would just tell them to go to hell.

      If I had told him to go to hell when he asked to come back, I would have saved myself even more pain and regret.

  • Or maybe it’s not that deep, and Becky is just parroting some “helpful” advice that she got from her paid-by-the-hour kumbaya marital-problems-are-caused-by-both-parties therapist.

  • A small bit on the origin of the word Forgive….

    forgive (v.)

    Old English forgiefan “give, grant, allow; remit (a debt), pardon (an offense),”

    The sense of “to give up desire or power to punish” (late Old English) is from use of such a compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Vulgar Latin *perdonare (Old Saxon fargeban, Dutch vergeven, German vergeben “to forgive,” Gothic fragiban “to grant;” and see pardon (n.)).

    In other words, when you forgive you are saying you aren’t going to go Medieval on their hiney’s unto the 7th generation AND their little dogs too.

    All forgiveness in modern terms means is that you see what they are and you believe that – it doesn’t mean you have to continue to eat at the nematode slime slurper buffet or acknowledge the denizens that feed there.

  • Forgiveness is such a misunderstood concept. The first thing I assess when someone mentions it to me is what their definition of forgiveness is. That helps clear up a lot.

    I have been engaging on my own journey of figuring out what forgiveness means through psychology and religious/spiritual sources. What I have found has been much more comforting than what some individual people have misguidedly pressured me to think.

    Recently, in conversation with my priest about my ex (I’m in the process of seeking an annulment in the Catholic Church), he said to me, “I’m so happy for you to see that you have found forgiveness.” I was surprised because we hadn’t touched on the topic of forgiveness. I responded, saying, “I have?”. He then said to me that as I speak about my ex, I am forthright and factual about what he has done and continue to do, but I harbour no ill-will towards him, no need for vengeance or spite. I express disappointment and hurt about things that are disappointing and hurtful. He noted that I have worked a lot on myself and acknowledged my own issues to work without blaming my ex for my own issues. He said that you truly know when someone has moved into forgiveness when they don’t feel the need for revenge.

    In other words, what CL says above about arriving at “meh” is spot on.

    Anyone who expects that forgiveness is not feeling sadness, disappointment or hurt at what the perpetrator did when you look bank on those events – wrong. Anyone who expects that you should just forget about what was done or put it behind you to never be brought up again – wrong. Anyone who expects that you be “friends” and act like nothing ever happened with your perpetrator – wrong. Anyone who makes you feel that something is wrong with you when you maintain boundaries with your perpetrator because you know what you are dealing with – wrong.

    Again, always start with figuring out what the other person means about “forgiveness”. If it is a toxic understanding of forgiveness, nod your head and move on.

    • Agreed, “disappointment” is just the right flavor of forgiveness for my cheater X as well. Part of being a Chump is falling in love with someone’s potential, picking a “project” rather than a partner. The disappointment is proportional to the potential that was seen before shit reality hits the fan. So part of the work to get to “meh” is acknowledging that and forgiving oneself for making that mistake, partially due to “lack of information”, or mindfuckery.

  • I’m not particularly religious person (I’ll go with spiritual), but I am a chump who’s on her way (sometimes struggling) to Tuesday, five years out from D-Day. I wrestled with the idea of forgiveness for a long time when I saw this video, “Forgive Assholes,” from Pastor Nadia Bolz Weber (link below). It truly resonated and it helped me to find a way to forgive. I didn’t forgive for my ex’s benefit, I did it for MYSELF to gain the gift of freedom from the agonizingly painful past. “What you did was no not okay that I refuse to be connected to it anymore.”

    • Thanks for sharing that. I am not religious either, but this resonates with me. Letting go of hatred and resentment is an important part of healing, in time. Holding on to it keeps you trapped. I believe that we end up turning into what we hate over time if we’re not careful. I’ve seen it happen in my FOO. Changing the narrative entirely and stepping out of the boundaries imposed by a dead relationship is a better version of forgiveness.

  • The trouble with forgiveness for me is that it requires me to ‘give’ something to someone that did nothing but take. I am supposed to give a pass to someone to balance some kind of moral equation when the things he took from me are intangible and as such could never have a physical tangible value that could be recompensed, the previous time when my firstborn was a newborn infant. I had looked forward to having a child all my life and what to me was to have been one of the happiest times (and by that I know not necessarily easiest times) of my life enjoying loving nurturing and getting to know our newborn was irretrievably marred by painful destructive memories of his bullshit, pulling the rug out from under me when I was my most vulnerable but hey, he managed to bring the attention back to himself and his needs and how I wasn’t fulfilling them, so mission accomplished. That kind of thing doesn’t deserve me taking the energy to try and give him something to balance the so-called moral books just so outside observers can say I’ve done right by everyone and in my books I could never give him enough to cover for the deficit he took, it’s not my job as we are no longer a team where my job was to fill his gaps (or that was my job I took on but just didn’t realise it) and anyway we were never a team. He did what he wanted and I made it look like it was a partnership.

  • FF, it is clear that you do not need to forgive your ex (in the sense your friend means it) in order to move on. You have a fabulous new life. You are happy. So why even question if you need to forgive? Your friend is probably envious of how mighty you are and how well you are doing, so she got you to doubt yourself. She sounds like kind of a shitty friend. I’d tell her exactly why it bothered you, remind her that you have indeed moved on, and add that you’re willing to forgive her for her judgy remark. If she has any capacity for shame, she’ll blush.

    Forgiveness trolls are the worst. I got copious apologies from my fw, plus efforts at amends, and I still don’t forgive him. Nor do I feel the need to and anybody who thinks I do can kiss my ass. As it does in lemonade, a little bitterness makes life without a fuckwit taste all the sweeter. Carry on being fabulous, FF.

  • This is a topic I’ve been struggling with for a long time. My X pastor immediately told me that I “needed to forgive cheater” or I’d “become bitter”. For that comment, many other comments and lies the pastor told me is the reason he’s my X pastor!! X pastor is still friends with the adulterer and his church married the adulterer and his ho. I’ve had so much spiritual damage done to me by people who claim to be Christians and yet I’m the one who has to do all the work of not only rebuilding my life from the ground up AND I’m supposed to forgive the adulterer and all the other people who took part in abusing me. And not one single person has ever come to me and apologized for anything they did or said to me, yet I’m supposed to forgive?

    I found this article to be very helpful. https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-limits-of-forgiveness

    “We aren’t obligated to forgive people who do not want us to. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that people have regarding the topic. People have seen “unconditional” forgiveness and love hammered so often that they feel obligated to forgive someone even before that person has repented. Sometimes they even tell the unrepentant that they have preemptively forgiven him (much to the impenitent’s annoyance).

    This is not what is required of us.

    Consider Luke 17:3–4, where Jesus tells us, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

    Notice that Jesus says to forgive him IF he repents, not regardless of whether he does so. Jesus also envisions the person coming back to you and admitting his wrong.

    The upshot? If someone isn’t repentant, you don’t have to forgive him.

    If you do forgive him anyway, that can be meritorious, provided it doesn’t otherwise have bad effects (e.g., encouraging future bad behavior). But it isn’t required of us that we forgive the person.

    This may strike some people as odd. They may have heard unconditional love and forgiveness preached so often that the idea of not indiscriminately forgiving everybody sounds unspiritual to them. They might even ask, “But wouldn’t it be more spiritual to forgive everyone?”

    I sympathize with this argument, but there is a two-word rejoinder to it: God doesn’t.

    Not everybody is forgiven. Otherwise, we’d all be walking around in a state of grace all the time and have no need of repentance to attain salvation. God doesn’t like people being unforgiven, and he is willing to grant forgiveness to all, but he isn’t willing to force it on people who don’t want it. If people are unrepentant of what they know to be sinful, they are not forgiven.”

    I don’t HAVE TO forgive him or anyone who isn’t repentant! Just like one of the posters above stated, I would not mind hearing if something bad happened to the adulterer, AP/wifetress or any of his flying monkeys. I’m just not seeking revenge or having thoughts anymore close to the one’s our dear leader, Chump Lady, would have: “But when infidelity happened to me, I found myself channeling Chuck Norris. Suddenly, I was prone to the most gruesome revenge fantasies. My fat, hairy husband would lay there asleep, snoring into his pillow, and I’d imagine just gutting him like a fish. Stem to stern. These thoughts didn’t even disturb me. I’d just stare at him and imagine what he’d look like disemboweled. Or with his head bashed in. Or pushed off a three-story ladder.” So, that’s progress on the Road to Meh that I haven’t had those bad thoughts in a very long time. I know I will never get an apology from anyone involved in destroying me and my life. Because then they would have to admit they took part in evil and those good “Christians” would never admit to that! My job is to shake the dust off my feet from the ashes of my old life and no longer cast my pearls before the swine; that equals no contact! My XH took something sacred, my heart, and trampled all over it like it was garbage. And then had the nerve to tell me it was my fault. One day he will answer to Jesus for everything he did to me and our children. Period.

    • This is fantastic. I gave some thought to actually saying to my ex-husband that I forgive him as an act of release for myself. Then, I realized that he actually hasn’t repented anything (he still denies there was ever an affair), so he does not desire forgiveness. My process of letting go/release/forgiveness does not require a role for him to play at all and has no need of his presence. Instead, I am working on a letter that will never be sent.

      Thank you for providing some more religious/spiritual rationale on this topic.

    • This. Exactly this. My divorce care leader preached owning your part in marriage breakup, telling the cheater you forgave them. Never got it – ex never apologized, never owned behavior.To me it just seemed like setting me up for more emotional abuse. My “forgiveness” is me giving him and all he and his now ho wife did to me over to God to judge and deal with.

      Not my circus, not my monkey.

      Great Christian summary. TY

    • Anyone who sins against you seven times in one day doesn’t deserve your forgiveness or time, no matter whether they repent or not. Inherent in biblical repentance is a complete change in direction toward God and away from the sin, so doing the bad thing again and again is evidence of zero repentance. Sorry Luke, you got it wrong on this one.

  • CL said exactly what I say when someone says I “need to forgive.”

    I answer simply that there’s nothing to forgive. FW “didn’t ask for forgiveness and doesn’t think he did a single thing wrong.” Then I shrug and get on with my meh

  • I’d bet that 98% of chumps know substantially less than the whole truth about their partner’s cheating, and we can’t forgive conduct we don’t know about anymore than we can digest butter fruit hidden in a locked box on the dark side of the moon.

    • I agree.

      My ex told me he had been cheating for ten years, which likely means he was cheating from the wedding day forward. I knew who the exit whore was, but I have no way of knowing how many and who the others were.

      He may very well have parading them around me just as he did the exit whore.

      My whole marriage was a lie, and I had to just let that go and move on. I did and I have had a blessed life since then, but forgiveness, nope just not wishing him harm was as good as it got.

      Nor do I regret the feeling of schadenfreude when he lost his rank and cushy office job. It was justice, and he brought it on himself. I honestly never even considered that he would get busted. I am betting he didn’t either. I guess he just thought the mayor would have to eat the shit sandwich like I did and not be able to do anything.

  • There are certain levels of forgiveness which are important.
    Firstly forgive yourself for making such a poor choice in a partner . You may have overlooked some red flags at the beginning of the relationship- but that’s human and you were tricked by an accomplished liar .
    My ex can’t open her mouth without lying ; I only see that now .
    Forgive yourself for the pick me dance you performed when you found out about the cheating. That’s normal , you were desperate.
    Forgive yourself for the many sleepless nights, the sadness and the trauma. Forgive yourself for taking whatever time you need to move on.
    You don’t need to forgive the cheater . One day they will just be irrelevant and that is all there is to it.

    • I definitely had to forgive myself for that pick me dance. Ugh.

      But for choosing a fw, there was no way I could have known. We were both 18 (almost 19) and I was madly in love, and he was professing to be. I don’t excuse that kind of behavior by someone because they married early. Heinous betrayal of a trusting spouse goes way beyond marital issues regardless of the age one marries. My fw even bragged just two months before Dday how much I trusted him, and was quite proud of it. Ironically, given the circumstances of that bragging, that was when it hit me that he was cheating. I shut down after that night and basically just let it happen until he left a couple months later. I was frozen in place.

      Also, in those days marrying younger was the norm. Many folks going off to war married, and many many of them stayed married and acted like decent human beings.

      • There are enough people who married you and were decent people.
        Even if you married too young and the marriage fails in the end – there is a way these things can end without cheating and lying.

  • LOL, Billy Goat Gruff. I have this old Fairy tale book my Grandmother gave to me when I was born. It’s full of all the old fairy tales. By today’s standards ALL deemed racial or violent or inappropriate. Forgiveness with an abuser is simply just understanding that they are incapable of being normal or are just downright wicked. Understanding that they are damaged, mean, broken, or just downright evil IS forgiveness. It’s more than they’ll ever give to anyone else for sure. What society nowadays wants is pity for them. Trust me, they neither want nor require you’re pity. In fact, it’s cake to them. Forgiving and loving yourself is what’s important.

  • As far as I remember – and I am a hardline atheist – forgiveness comes after genuine repenting and making amends of whatever sort. So if Greg were to have said *and demonstrated* sincere remorse and regret for how he treated you, and demonstrated a sincere and consistent commitment to behave like a decent human in the future, then possibly you could consider forgiving him. It would most certainly not be because you *owe* him or yourself or anyone anything, but it might be a realistic option, depending.

    But as far as I can see, that… hasn’t happened? You have accepted a really crappy, undeserved situation, move forward into a seriously envy-inducing new life (and this *might possibly* be what your friend is feeling right now, and thus trying to make herself feel better), with lessons learned and a clear-eyed view of what happened and a resolve to put it behind you. That’s forgiveness in my book. You’ve done it. You’ve accepted what cannot be changed, changed what can be changed (and how!) and had the wisdom to know the difference.

    Job done. It’s Tuesday. Tell your friend that if you’ve possibly over-shared re Greg’s stupid actions and left her with the impression that you’re somehow stuck or bent on revenge, you’ve given the wrong impression. Greg is quite free to have the life he deserves and you would do nothing to impact it either way. The end.

    • This encapsulates it exactly: “Greg is quite free to have the life he deserves and you would do nothing to impact it either way.”

  • “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.” Chump Lady quote above.

    Tremendous insight!

    I don’t forgive me ex but understand that she was just working through her life like everyone else, and made some really bad choices at the time. I’m glad she made her choices, it lead to my life after it being amazing.

  • I dunno, maybe your friend was just trying to tell you in a roundabout way that you need to stop talking about your ex, snarkily or otherwise. Forgiveness is overrated but reducing centrality is not. If you’re still regularly making snarky comments about your ex, there’s still a fair amount of centrality there…hence the lack of Meh.

    There was a period of time where I mistook my burgeoning humor and snark about my ex as “healing” or meh…but in fact what it meant was that he was still living rent free in the middle of my psyche. Reducing the amount of words I devote to him, in any tone, reduced his possession of my mind. I highly recommend.

  • My FW has said he’s ‘sorry’ (wow) but no amends have been made. He has never asked for forgiveness and the way things are now, I don’t know if I can ever forgive him. I am extremely hurt and angry. I want to be ok…not even close.

  • Mmmmm… probably no one will ever read this… but I’ve been thinking about forgiveness since I read this post and the comments.

    I agree; I don’t think forgiveness is work that people should do.

    I think it just flows. It’s a by-product of happiness and joy. Pursue happiness? You can find it, but it’s fleeting, and somehow the attaining of it lessens the joy of it. Pursue forgiveness? You can find it, but it’s also fleeting, and sometimes edged with arsenic, like a gift of poisoned flowers.

    Pursue love? To pursue love, you must go where the love is. Go to the source of love and stay there. Soak it up, bask in it, feel it, experience it, drink it, eat it, let it nourish you, let it fill you up, live it for a while. And then look outwards. The love will just flows then… When you’re at capacity, your cup overflows… you can’t contain it… and it looks different in all the different places it goes. For some it looks like friendship. For some it takes the form of chastisement. For some it looks like affection. For some it looks like affirmation. For some it feels like forgiveness.

    Love heals. Love completes. Love is life-giving.

    And in this loving state, it doesn’t matter who did what to you. It doesn’t matter how other people want to live their lives. They have nothing to do with you. It doesn’t matter what wrongs anyone has done to anyone. There is only love…

    (Yeah, this sounds like sixty’s Flower Power.

    But I believe it.)

  • Forgive him? For treating you like dirt? For putting your health in danger? For behaving like a jackass? The list goes on. I don’t really think forgiveness is something that applies in these situations. You’ve moved on, you’re doing great, you have a wonderful life. You are truly blessed. The person you were talking to does not and will not ever feel what you felt. His actions changed who you are as a human being. I don’t think refusing to forgive is a bad thing. I think it’s a reality.

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