I can’t forgive him. I refuse to forgive him. Everyone says to forgive and forget well I think that is impossible. He was cruel, he hurt our kids, he hurt me and he walked away from it all without so much as a backward glance. Why does everyone always talk about forgiveness like it is the place to get to after a divorce? What if you can’t forgive?
First of all, you are only responsible for yourself and your own healing.
Focusing on forgiving him is giving your former spouse continued power over you. It is important to remember that forgiveness takes many forms and the goal -for you- is to get to a place where the divorce is comfortably tucked away in your memory.
Perhaps the most important aspect of forgiveness is that we -first and foremost- need to forgive ourselves. You chose to marry him and have children and because of those choices you and your children were exposed to his cruelty.
Let’s start there. I am sure like most everyone, you married in good faith believing in this person. You believed he would be a good husband and you believed he would be a good father. You did this because we all go into marriage trusting in an unknown future together.
As many divorced people have found, reality can often upend that belief system and we question ourselves. We all wonder how things turned out the way they do in a divorce.
It is worth it to take a moment and consider that anger drives a lot of cruelty-lashing out because of inner pain. For whatever reasons, your former spouse chose to behave the way he did. He must take responsibility because it was his choice to be cruel to you and your children.
Maybe all you can do is forgive yourself for marrying him and exposing your children –who didn’t ask to be born – to that cruelty.
Also, consider the effect of time in every situation. As your life becomes less about your divorce and more about your new life and the future you will find that the pressure to forgive him will ease.
Time will help you shape a more realistic perspective of the marriage and its demise. You are still hurting and that clouds your judgment.
To live a fulfilling future all you really need to do is be comfortable with your decisions. Take a step back from this expectation of forgiving him and consider what your own form of forgiveness might look like because this is not about him. This is about you and your peace of mind. Where do you need to be emotionally to find that peace?
What happens over the next few years might also impact your feelings about forgiveness. Your former spouse might feel remorse and offer a very sincere apology.
Or he might feel no remorse at all and not see any problem with what he did. You do not have any control over what he does. Accept it and make decisions about forgiveness based on your own needs.
Knowledge is power and once the emotion of the divorce abates a bit, your thinking will clear, and you will also feel the positive effects of emotional distance. You might not feel such extreme emotion in 2 years or 5 years as your life moves forward and you have new experiences. However, you might still feel you can’t forgive him.
The most important aspect of whatever you decide – be comfortable and content with the decision. Beyond that, say little and think even less about forgiving him and concentrate on creating a positive future for you and your family.
Reclaim your personal power. Everyone is on their own timeline to heal. But spending emotional energy on whether you can forgive him or not gives him continued power over you. Take control of your decision that for right now you cannot forgive, accept it and move on.
Make the future about you and your children and the happiness you create together.
If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to firstname.lastname@example.org – Reaching out is the first step.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.