“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to bump into you.” Says the random stranger.
“No problem.” We answer, their clumsiness easy for us to understand because we’ve done it ourselves.
“I’m not able to give you that day off, I’m sorry.” Your supervisor says.
“I understand.” You respond, and, you do understand because sometimes these things happen at work.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you mom and dad. I thought you’d be mad so I lied. I didn’t want to disappoint you. I knew what I did was wrong but I didn’t think you’d find out. I’m sorry.” Says your teenage child who you raised to know the difference between right and wrong and still chose the wrong path.
Disappointed you answer, “We forgive you but you need to understand the lies hurt us more than what you did. You’re grounded.” You hope they’ve learned from their mistake.
no source-got this from Facebook forever ago
“I’m sorry I betrayed you, Elsie. I’m sorry I lied. I’m sorry I broke our marriage vows. Please forgive me.” Devin said months after Disclosure Week.
“I’m working on it.” Was all I could promise him at the time.
It took me over a year to feel a full and complete forgiveness for what Devin had done during the course of our marriage because I had yet to forgive myself for what I had done so how could I forgive him? It took my rockin’ counselor to point that out.
When she did, the seed was planted and I eventually cultivated it enough to realize I truly had to stop feeling shame, guilt and anger for what I had done during our marriage; i.e. not leaving when I said I would, participating in things that made me uncomfortable.
Ultimately, I forgave myself. I came to realize I was a product of my environment. I had been thrown into a situation I had not been prepared for and did what I had to do, one that came shrouded in many labels, none of which I wanted to hear; co-dependent, co-addict, enabler. I prefer the one I dubbed myself: survivor. I shrug off the rest.
After picking myself apart piece by broken piece during my fourth step, it was then that I found I had truly forgiven my husband along the way. It was during that difficult process of self-examination I found myself, my true self, flaws and all. It’s what helped me understand my husband is no different than me. He simply encountered his addiction later in life. Mine occurred in my teens and I got sober over twenty years ago. His occurred in his thirties and he’s sober, struggling at times, but sober. He’s remorseful, he’s empathic, he’s working his program, he’s learning communication and stopping protective responses.
So, what made it so hard to forgive him in the beginning? The addiction itself is personal. It’s something that comes up at our S-Anon meetings from time to time. How personally devastating this particular disease is to the partners of the addicts. We have a hard time remembering “It’s not about us.”, “It’s not our fault.”, “It’s not about sex.”, “The women/men are just objects.”; because we’ve had our self-esteem trampled upon. We’ve been personally and usually sexually betrayed.
After forgiving myself, seeing my own personal flaws and imperfections I was truly able to forgive him too. I could once and for all say with honesty, “I forgive you now. I know your addiction made you cheat. You didn’t wake wondering how to hurt me. Your disease caused you to do it.” I finally understood.
From there, I was also able to release my anger at the women he cheated on me with and replace it with a sense of compassion instead. Imagine the pain they have inside them too? Much like Devin, they too are hurting inside.
Once the forgiveness happened, the trust also began to build too. Will I ever have 100% trust in him? No. He promises me his addiction will never go to that depth again, porn and masturbation he can’t promise, but cheating of any sort he can because he knows the consequence – loss of me. Yet, I still withhold my full trust because the damage was too severe.
Yet, I trust him more now than I ever thought possible. Enough to not laugh in disbelief when he speaks of renewing our vows on our tenth anniversary and lighting a sky candle to begin anew again.
This is written to let you know, yes, you can forgive. You know who you are.
This is not about me being strong; it's to help someone else. I hope you're reading today. Love you hard!
To update on a post from last week about communication for those of you interested: Devin is back to his old “new” self again. He had a great counseling session and was even able to come to terms with the issue was having with religion. I’m so happy for him.