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Is Forgiveness the Key to Forgetting?

Jambalaya

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I'll keep this part short as I don't want to focus so much on my own situation as on the concept and the art of forgiveness. Someone from the past betrayed me, the person has been on my mind over New Year, and I wish they weren't.

I expressed myself thoroughly to the person at the time, which helped, and I talked about it in therapy. I don't feel I've achieved real closure though, because I wonder about this person at times like the holidays. The one thing I never thought of doing is forgiving.

I think real forgiveness is very difficult and I admire those who fully achieve it. I worked with a lovely woman at a retail store whose husband had left her and the children after twenty years. Far from being bitter, she said, "Ah well, we had twenty good years together." She sounded very accepting and philosophical, so mature and wise. After all, I guess what good does feeling bad about the person or the betrayal do? They may or may not be sorry - often someone isn't sorry, I think, or they would never have behaved that way in the first place. The person in my situation wasn't sorry. The person betrayed someone else I know 17 before they betrayed me, and they weren't sorry for that betrayal, either. You can see why I never considered forgiveness. (I don't want to go into details, but both betrayals were pretty epic. One involved sleeping with someone's fiance. That kind of thing. Not minor stuff.)

I also think that forgiveness probably means different things to different people. I've always thought it meant wiping the slate clean and welcoming them back with open arms, but perhaps not.

Obviously, countless other people have been cheated on, betrayed, robbed, attacked. Do others forgive the people who have wronged them, as a way of moving forward? How do people manage that forgiveness - when the person isn't even sorry?

Perhaps forgiveness means seeing the world from the betrayer's point of view. The betrayer is, after all, human. I think that often, the personality traits that led someone to behave dreadfully are also the same personality traits that affect their lives negatively overall. So in a way, they are their own punishment. I suppose, as well, that as dreadful as their behavior was, they are not the sum total of that one thing that they did. The woman at the retail store seemed to know that. The person in my story seemed, mostly, like a lovely, empathetic, caring person, who then went and did these bad things to two people and caused a lot of pain, and never seemed sorry. It was as if there were two people in one! That's why I puzzle about it still, sometimes.

But the betrayer's personality problems have certainly affected the outcome of their life terribly. Today, the person is unable to have real relationships and has remained single, has barely any family, and is trapped in a hated career which requires very hard work. The betrayer had developed some personality issues over the years - I don't really know how to describe it, but in our final years together I could see there was some stuff churning around inside which wasn't good. The person isn't happy, I can say that with certainty. Also a very negative person, and with many issues about life and death, of all things - somewhat morbid.

I am much, much luckier than the person who betrayed me, in all manner of ways. I've had more money, more interesting work, much more family and better relationships. However, I have also been happier because of my naturally "up" temperament which I inherited from my mother's side. I know other people who have all the things I described and much more besides, but are always grumpy. I think a lot of how we feel just comes from within, and I have been blessed with a truly happy temperament. I enjoy being in the world, I've always liked where I live, and I have a rich inner life that I express with painting. It doesn't take much to make me happy. I don't think the person who betrayed me will ever enjoy life as much as I do. Even though to others my life probably seems unremarkable, I like it a lot.

So perhaps I should consider all that I have that the betrayer doesn't have, and how unhappy they are. (They were unhappy for all the years I knew them, and according to the grapevine things haven't changed.) I've had opportunities that this person will never have. Perhaps I should give them a break. I don't mean getting back in touch, but forgiving them inwardly, because they are miserable and alone and because they have experienced loss as a result of their betrayals, and because they can't escape their negative personality.

What does forgiveness mean to others here? Are you a forgiving person? Have you managed to forgive someone who has done something dreadful to you? Did it help you to forget? You know, I think I could forgive someone in a heartbeat if they were truly sorry. It's forgiving someone who isn't sorry in the slightest that's the challenge.

I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on the concept of forgiveness, and whether anyone has really managed it, and how hard it was or wasn't.
 

Arcadian

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I have no problem forgiving. I don't hold grudges, and I will let things go for my own piece of mind. BTW, its not EASY to really forgive. Forgiveness is very hard, because you have to also forgive yourself in the process.

But I NEVER forget, nor am I so naive to believe its a good thing to do.

To "forget" means you don't learn from the experience, good or bad. You don't use that experience to either help someone else or even yourself as you go through life.

Forgiving yes, forgetting, never.
 

Jambalaya

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Thanks, Arcadian. When you say you have no problem forgiving, does that include big betrayals? What if you had been with someone for eight years and were engaged - you planned to marry this person, have children with them and stay with their for life - and you found out one of your best friends had been sleeping with your intended? And the friend didn't tell you, had no intention of telling you, would apparently have left you in the dark forever and even perhaps been a bridesmaid at your wedding, but a third party told you? Could you forgive then?

That's what happened to the other friend this person betrayed.

ETA: I find it difficult to disentangle forgiving and forgetting. They seem kind of the same - or at least, they seem to go hand in hand.

ETA2: I'm not really understanding the part about forgiveness being hard because you have to forgive yourself. The friend in the story above was one of the nicest, kindest people you could ever meet, but her fiance and one of her best friends betrayed her. The betrayee was completely blameless. In this scenario, I'm not sure what she would have to forgive herself for.

But I agree that self-forgiveness in general isn't easy, and that is another interesting aspect of the concept of forgiveness. I think it's hard to accurately judge and quantify our own actions. For example, after someone passes away it's easy to chastise ourselves for all the things we didn't do, and to ignore all the things we did do.
 

House Cat

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My therapist told me that I don't have to forgive anyone. Some people preach forgiveness, but in certain circumstances, trying to force someone to forgive another person who has caused grave harm is very dangerous. It puts a lot of responsibility on someone who has already suffered enough at the hands of the aggressor, now the victim (for lack of a better word) must be responsible for this person's forgiveness too?

J, you will never "forget." The brain doesn't work that way. If you feel that you are traumatized, you can seek out EMDR therapy to take the zing out of the memory and work through it. Maybe explore why it hurt you so much, get validation on what hurt you, justification, self love, do some imagery where you take care of yourself in the situation where this person hurt you. What I am saying is maybe you will find peace if you explore this in a therapeutic environment.


I get it. There is a person in my life that has hurt me. Her life isn't so great either. Whenever I think of her, I get really angry. I tried thinking about forgiving her or pitying her because her life stinks. Then I hear another story where she pulls her same behavior and does harm to someone I love deeply and that anger of a thousand suns burns inside me again. I am told that anger is an activating emotion. It protects us from harm. It isn't always bad. That anger for this harmful sociopathic person will always keep me safe. Forgiveness for her? Nope. I'm good with it, even if it means that I am cussing her out in my head while I'm doing dishes. :bigsmile:
 

Jambalaya

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Thanks House Cat. The view of forgiveness you describe has always been pretty much my view of forgiveness, too, but I'm wondering if I'm wrong since others say that forgiveness is often the key to moving on, and this person is still sometimes on my mind more often than I'd like. Was it traumatic? Not physically, and others have experienced betrayals on a similar scale, of course. The other betrayee in this case went on to marry a much nicer man and is very happy now with a family of her own. She says to me, "Honestly, I never think about J." Perhaps this is a function of time - it's been 17 years for her, much less than that for me. I already have weekly therapy so I don't think I could add EMDR to the tab, but thanks for the suggestion. I just read all about it in an article I googled after you mentioned it. Good to know.

I'm interested to read that you also know someone who hurt you but her life also stinks. I wouldn't know if the person who has betrayed me is still hurting other people as we're not in touch, but considering the two betrayals I do know about, I'd be surprised if she never hurts anyone again.

You know, after she betrayed me, other things she had done over the years kept coming back to me. When she was about 26, she slept with a fifteen-year-old boy. In my view, that is SO off-color, not to mention illegal. I would never think of doing such a thing, and neither would any of my other friends. Also, she preyed on at least four married men with families, and those are only the ones I know of. They didn't always cave, but she tried. One of them took her aside and told her to get a boyfriend, hahaaa! On the other hand, this person often seemed nice, sweet, empathetic. Perhaps she was a sociopath, who knows.

ETA: I realize the person who betrayed me sound awful, but in real life she was just about always very sweet, apparently empathetic, caring, etc, and great to talk to. That's why I still think about her sometimes. Then she'd just appear to crack and do something awful. It's a head-scratcher.
 

House Cat

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Jambalaya|1452963915|3976814 said:
Thanks House Cat. The view of forgiveness you describe has always been pretty much my view of forgiveness, too, but I'm wondering if I'm wrong since others say that forgiveness is often the key to moving on, and this person is still sometimes on my mind more often than I'd like. Was it traumatic? Not physically, and others have experienced betrayals on a similar scale, of course. The other betrayee in this case went on to marry a much nicer man and is very happy now with a family of her own. She says to me, "Honestly, I never think about J." Perhaps this is a function of time - it's been 17 years for her, much less than that for me. I already have weekly therapy so I don't think I could add EMDR to the tab, but thanks for the suggestion. I just read all about it in an article I googled after you mentioned it. Good to know.

I'm interested to read that you also know someone who hurt you but her life also stinks. I wouldn't know if the person who has betrayed me is still hurting other people as we're not in touch, but considering the two betrayals I do know about, I'd be surprised if she never hurts anyone again.

You know, after she betrayed me, other things she had done over the years kept coming back to me. When she was about 26, she slept with a fifteen-year-old boy. In my view, that is SO off-color, not to mention illegal. I would never think of doing such a thing, and neither would any of my other friends. Also, she preyed on at least four married men with families, and those are only the ones I know of. They didn't always cave, but she tried. One of them took her aside and told her to get a boyfriend, hahaaa! On the other hand, this person often seemed nice, sweet, empathetic. Perhaps she was a sociopath, who knows.

ETA: I realize the person who betrayed me sound awful, but in real life she was just about always very sweet, apparently empathetic, caring, etc, and great to talk to. That's why I still think about her sometimes. Then she'd just appear to crack and do something awful. It's a head-scratcher.
J,

No, this wasn't a nice, sweet, empathetic person at all. That was her representative. Her real self was the person who gave in to any little whim or desire to fulfill her emotional needs with little regard for the feelings of others.

She was a pedophile.

Maybe having a true perspective on this person, rather than the facade that your mind wants to have for her will be a very healing step for you.

So many hugs.
 

Tacori E-ring

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For me it isn't about "forgiving," it is about acceptance. I can accept things without liking them. There is a lot of stuff that happens that people do not deserve and it would be impossible to like. Also letting go is really important. If I hold on to resentments, it only hurts me. I doubt other people are losing sleep over it.
 

Arcadian

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Jambalaya|1452961888|3976800 said:
Thanks, Arcadian. When you say you have no problem forgiving, does that include big betrayals? What if you had been with someone for eight years and were engaged - you planned to marry this person, have children with them and stay with their for life - and you found out one of your best friends had been sleeping with your intended? And the friend didn't tell you, had no intention of telling you, would apparently have left you in the dark forever and even perhaps been a bridesmaid at your wedding, but a third party told you? Could you forgive then?

That's what happened to the other friend this person betrayed.

ETA: I find it difficult to disentangle forgiving and forgetting. They seem kind of the same - or at least, they seem to go hand in hand.

ETA2: I'm not really understanding the part about forgiveness being hard because you have to forgive yourself. The friend in the story above was one of the nicest, kindest people you could ever meet, but her fiance and one of her best friends betrayed her. The betrayee was completely blameless. In this scenario, I'm not sure what she would have to forgive herself for.

But I agree that self-forgiveness in general isn't easy, and that is another interesting aspect of the concept of forgiveness. I think it's hard to accurately judge and quantify our own actions. For example, after someone passes away it's easy to chastise ourselves for all the things we didn't do, and to ignore all the things we did do.
I've had much bigger betrayals than that unfortunately, but yes, I did forgive. It wasn't an overnight thing, it took a lot of work (and counseling!) do to it. I had to get through a lot of anger and guilt, and, I had to forgive myself first before anyone else.

Without doing those things especially if its something as large scale as what you mentioned and what I've been through, IMO you can't fully forgive someone else, and its hard to move forward as well.

Anger like that can go two ways; it will either destroy you as a person or make you stronger. I'm still around so I guess it worked in my favor :lol:

Human's carry a lot of self guilt, rightly or wrongly, especially in areas of betrayal.
 

Queenie60

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I feel that you should accept the things that others do as you are not able to control them. I've learned to accept and move on. Holding a grudge or very hateful feelings - you're only hurting yourself. I chose to not allow the bad person to win - I'm the winner and will stand tall and prevail. I don't describe it as forgiveness, just moving forward with your own life and putting that situation behind you. Doesn't mean to bring them back into your life, just let go. And if anything, feel pity for their sorry existence. I try to imagine how heavy and full of gunk their heart and mind must feel that they betrayed and did terrible things to someone else. Hope this explains, :confused:
 

Sky56

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I think much of the answer is held by that co-worker of yours. I find it difficult to forgive or forget, and probably she did too but she realized that time marches on, she can't stop her husband from leaving, and she chose not to be bitter. You can choose your attitude, and she knew that all she has is time, and to make the most of it, why waste it being bitter, why ruin my future?

I've been betrayed, hurt, lost friends etc. and it stings when I think of it, yet I have a happy life because each day, each minute seems so precious, full of opportunity to be creative, or feel joy and gratitude for what I have rather than grieving what is lost. I feel the pain but part of that woman's secret is not to dwell on it.

Attitude is everything.
 

cmd2014

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I would recommend reading Forgiveness is a Choice by Robert Enright. He's a doctoral level psychologist who has published extensive research on what works and what doesn't, and how people can let go of anger and move forward when there may be no way of achieving resolution from the person who has harmed you.

His thoughts are essentially that we choose to forgive not because it's an act of grace towards the other person, or because others expect it if us, or that it means than we condone the behavior, accept the person back into our lives (especially if they are continuing to exhibit the harmful behavior), or forget what happenned, but because living in anger, hurt, and regret keeps us stuck in an unhealthy place in our own lives. So just like with grief, we have to face it head on, allow ourselves to experience the reaction to what has happened, process through it, take whatever meaning we can from it, and find a way to accept, accommodate, and find a place of emotional resolution without carrying negative emotional baggage into our future lives. To do so only hurts us and not the person who has harmed us. So you make whatever changes you need to based on what this event has taught you (like maybe, this is not a safe healthy person in my life and I will choose to end the relationship, grieve it and move on, or maybe I stay in relation to them, but choose to structure my relationship and expectations of them differently so that I do not continue to be hurt by them), and let go of anger and regret. Maybe try to see the person from a place of empathy if you can, because if you can understand a behavior you can see it clearly, make better choices about how to manage your response to it, and depersonalize it. We don't have to like a person or their choices/actions to be able to see and understand who they are and why they might do what they do.

So let go of hurt and anger, yes. Forget, condone, and continue to allow yourself to be harmed? No.
 

minousbijoux

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I would imagine that just about everyone has, at one point of their life or other, experienced major betrayal, Jamabalaya. To quantify it - to get into the weeds in terms of the specifics in each case, in order to somehow compare or demonstrate the betrayal's magnitude - is not helpful to forgiving. I forgive. I've learned that I don't want to devote any of my energy to negative thoughts about those who have hurt me. Its amazing when you can get to the other side and see them as flawed, with their betrayal not about you, but about them. Its a freeing practice - not necessarily an easy one by any means. But I am so much happier for having moved on, and in most cases, having continued relationships with them.
 

Jambalaya

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Just to be clear on one thing - I'm not angry, because I told her all my anger at the time, which I've never regretted and was a great help. I expressed myself thoroughly.

But our relationship was very good for many years until the betrayal (and after that I came to remember those other things she had done) so, especially as a new year dawns, I think about her. I wonder if she misses me, if she ever thinks of me, and why she had to screw everything up. I just wonder about her more than I'd like, and I wish I could just forget about her completely. I've been thinking of her especially over this New Year, for some reason. Not during the day, when I'm busy, but quiet times. I tried to hold onto all the good years we had together and to draw some comfort from all our memories, but then I realized that the memories are all spoiled for me. I do have a few things to remember her by. She's in a lot of my family photos and now I kind of wish she wasn't, but also when I turned 40 she wrote me a very funny poem about becoming older, which I still have, and I have a very nice silver and amethyst lariat necklace that she gave me for another significant birthday.

I'm not angry; I'm just a little sad and I wondered if I made huge efforts to forgive her maybe she wouldn't be on my mind. I am very interested to hear others' stories of forgiveness. I'm replying individually now:
 

Jambalaya

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House Cat|1452966826|3976831 said:
Jambalaya|1452963915|3976814 said:
J,

No, this wasn't a nice, sweet, empathetic person at all. That was her representative. Her real self was the person who gave in to any little whim or desire to fulfill her emotional needs with little regard for the feelings of others.

She was a pedophile.

Maybe having a true perspective on this person, rather than the facade that your mind wants to have for her will be a very healing step for you.

So many hugs.

Thanks for the huge, House Cat! Yeah, I had come to that csame onclusion about her doing what she wants and never mind anyone else. Never thought of her as a pedophile though, but yeah the boy was well underage. You're correct about the mind-facade. I have known her for decades and it was almost all very positive so there's quite the facade to overcome. She was so quiet and seemed so sweet. I love that saying "It's always the quiet ones!" Rationally, I have overcome the facade to see what she's really like, but I can't help it - I miss her, or I miss the person I thought she was.
 

Jambalaya

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Tacori E-ring|1452967675|3976835 said:
For me it isn't about "forgiving," it is about acceptance. I can accept things without liking them. There is a lot of stuff that happens that people do not deserve and it would be impossible to like. Also letting go is really important. If I hold on to resentments, it only hurts me. I doubt other people are losing sleep over it.
You are so right about stuff happening that people don't deserve. I can think of a few lovely, lovely people who were treated very badly by others. And there's no way those perpetrators are losing sleep! I know it's the same for everyone who has experienced any type of mistreatment, about letting go etc. I guess there are various methods of "putting it away" and it depends on the person and the situation. For example, House Cat is very happy in her staunch refusal to forgive that person in her life, but MinousBijoux has continued relationships with the people who betrayed her.

it is interesting to hear how others have dealt with "putting it away" and what kind of putting-away works best for each. That's how I think of it - a kind of putting-away, like wrapping something up in tissue paper and laying it gently in a drawer that remains shut. I just need the drawer to stay shut!
 

Jambalaya

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Arcadian|1452968877|3976840 said:
Jambalaya|1452961888|3976800 said:
I've had much bigger betrayals than that unfortunately, but yes, I did forgive. It wasn't an overnight thing, it took a lot of work (and counseling!) do to it. I had to get through a lot of anger and guilt, and, I had to forgive myself first before anyone else.

Without doing those things especially if its something as large scale as what you mentioned and what I've been through, IMO you can't fully forgive someone else, and its hard to move forward as well.

Anger like that can go two ways; it will either destroy you as a person or make you stronger. I'm still around so I guess it worked in my favor :lol:

Human's carry a lot of self guilt, rightly or wrongly, especially in areas of betrayal.
Wow, Arcadian, you have been betrayed. I thought what happened to our friend was pretty big, so if yours was bigger, then whoa! Good for you if you could forgive. It sounds as if that was pretty helpful to you. When you say "forgive", did you just forgive the person internally or did you tell them that you forgave them? It sounds as if for you, forgiving was the route to putting it away.
 

Jambalaya

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Queenie60|1452969333|3976844 said:
I feel that you should accept the things that others do as you are not able to control them. I've learned to accept and move on. Holding a grudge or very hateful feelings - you're only hurting yourself. I chose to not allow the bad person to win - I'm the winner and will stand tall and prevail. I don't describe it as forgiveness, just moving forward with your own life and putting that situation behind you. Doesn't mean to bring them back into your life, just let go. And if anything, feel pity for their sorry existence. I try to imagine how heavy and full of gunk their heart and mind must feel that they betrayed and did terrible things to someone else. Hope this explains, :confused:
Yes, yes,and yes! Exactly! People who do these things are often very unhappy, I think.

You say about just moving forward and putting that situation behind you, and I've done that to an extent, it's just that I think about her more than I'd like, still, especially over the holidays. Maybe I need one of those rubber bands that you twang when you think of something that you don't want to think of. So, how do you do what you described? A family member suffered a terrible betrayal by his brother, and he said after the court case was done, he would think of his brother and simmer, but he realized that the brother wasn't losing sleep and so, every time the brother came into his thoughts, he would just make himself think of something else. I do think this is easier said than done, though.
 

minousbijoux

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My experience is that its very difficult to "just not think about it" and assume you will forgive. You think about it until you're done thinking about it. That might take some time. If you find you are truly perseverating on it, its worth getting help, as it sounds like you have. :)) It may sound counterintuitive, but I've found for me that trying not to think about something backfires, and that truly thinking about, exploring it, trying to see it (whatever it is) from different perspectives, means that it starts to lose its power over me and after a while its reduced to something less meaningful. Yes, horrible things happen. Its how you move on from them that matters.
 

Jambalaya

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Sky56|1452969721|3976846 said:
I think much of the answer is held by that co-worker of yours. I find it difficult to forgive or forget, and probably she did too but she realized that time marches on, she can't stop her husband from leaving, and she chose not to be bitter. You can choose your attitude, and she knew that all she has is time, and to make the most of it, why waste it being bitter, why ruin my future?

I've been betrayed, hurt, lost friends etc. and it stings when I think of it, yet I have a happy life because each day, each minute seems so precious, full of opportunity to be creative, or feel joy and gratitude for what I have rather than grieving what is lost. I feel the pain but part of that woman's secret is not to dwell on it.

Attitude is everything.
I agree with all this. That woman had found the secret, and I don't think it had taken her too long to get there, either. He had left a short-ish time ago. Agree about attitude. Maybe she considered the silver lining - for example, maybe he left but it's nice to have my living space to myself, etc - and in my situation, I think she would have required more and more emotional support as her remaining family died and she was left with no one, so I guess at least I don't have to expend that time and energy now.

I'm glad you admit that it still stings when you think of it, because despite being very happy that I confronted her when it happened and telling her exactly what I thought, and knowing that not having her in my life is exactly the right thing, it does still sting. Hey, I'm a poet! It's the right thing but it does still sting. :lol:
 

Jambalaya

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cmd2014|1452972351|3976859 said:
I would recommend reading Forgiveness is a Choice by Robert Enright. He's a doctoral level psychologist who has published extensive research on what works and what doesn't, and how people can let go of anger and move forward when there may be no way of achieving resolution from the person who has harmed you.

His thoughts are essentially that we choose to forgive not because it's an act of grace towards the other person, or because others expect it if us, or that it means than we condone the behavior, accept the person back into our lives (especially if they are continuing to exhibit the harmful behavior), or forget what happenned, but because living in anger, hurt, and regret keeps us stuck in an unhealthy place in our own lives. So just like with grief, we have to face it head on, allow ourselves to experience the reaction to what has happened, process through it, take whatever meaning we can from it, and find a way to accept, accommodate, and find a place of emotional resolution without carrying negative emotional baggage into our future lives. To do so only hurts us and not the person who has harmed us. So you make whatever changes you need to based on what this event has taught you (like maybe, this is not a safe healthy person in my life and I will choose to end the relationship, grieve it and move on, or maybe I stay in relation to them, but choose to structure my relationship and expectations of them differently so that I do not continue to be hurt by them), and let go of anger and regret. Maybe try to see the person from a place of empathy if you can, because if you can understand a behavior you can see it clearly, make better choices about how to manage your response to it, and depersonalize it. We don't have to like a person or their choices/actions to be able to see and understand who they are and why they might do what they do.

So let go of hurt and anger, yes. Forget, condone, and continue to allow yourself to be harmed? No.
Thank you, cmd, Pearl Girl as I think of you! I think I will read that book. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll let you know what I think of it. I did what I could to deal effectively with it at the time - I mean, I told her in full all my thoughts, including the positive ones and everything that our relationship had meant to me over the decades, and also all the negative thoughts after her betrayal, too. I told her everything. So there is no unfinished business, and I also discussed it with my therapist.

However, because she's still on my mind more than I wanted, I wondered if forgiveness is the answer. I'll read that book.
 

Jambalaya

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[b]Minous 1[/b]: "I would imagine that just about everyone has, at one point of their life or other, experienced major betrayal, Jamabalaya. To quantify it - to get into the weeds in terms of the specifics in each case, in order to somehow compare or demonstrate the betrayal's magnitude - is not helpful to forgiving. I forgive. I've learned that I don't want to devote any of my energy to negative thoughts about those who have hurt me. Its amazing when you can get to the other side and see them as flawed, with their betrayal not about you, but about them. Its a freeing practice - not necessarily an easy one by any means. But I am so much happier for having moved on, and in most cases, having continued relationships with them."

Minous 2: "My experience is that its very difficult to "just not think about it" and assume you will forgive. You think about it until you're done thinking about it. That might take some time. If you find you are truly perseverating on it, its worth getting help, as it sounds like you have. :)) It may sound counterintuitive, but I've found for me that trying not to think about something backfires, and that truly thinking about, exploring it, trying to see it (whatever it is) from different perspectives, means that it starts to lose its power over me and after a while its reduced to something less meaningful. Yes, horrible things happen. Its how you move on from them that matters."

Thanks, Minous! This all very wise. I agree with so much of this. I do have difficulty with the whole "just stop thinking about it" thing because it's like, if someone says, "don't think of a purple elephant" then....what can't you stop thinking of? A purple elephant!

Re. the first bolded part, I'm working on getting to that place. Rationally I'm there, but my emotional side still misses her, wonders about her wonders if she thinks of me, etc. I'd prefer never to think about her at all. The other betrayee has well moved on, but like I said it's been 17 years for her, and time must help a lot. I can't believe you have continued relationships with those people! I did consider it, but I could never trust her again as long as I live, so being with her would be a waste of time. I guess those people who have hurt you but you still know them, I guess you continue knowing them in the full knowledge that you can never trust them?

I have subscribed to the wisdom of just forgetting. Perhaps I need to think more about it, as you say, and then it will truly go away. Or perhaps it's just a matter of time. I knew her for almost five decades but much more intensely in the final 15 years, and her colossal betrayal was about 21 months ago, so I do still think of her more than I would like. Ideally, I would rarely think of her.
 

Jambalaya

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Thinking about the topic of forgiving in more general terms, has anyone ever told the perpetrator, "I forgive you"? This isn't an excuse, but after this person betrayed our mutual friend, it turned out that the betrayer was being beaten by her boyfriend. I think once he pushed her into a freezing river, among other things. The fiance that she slept with, I remember him because he seemed a very warm person. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I think perhaps he provided some comfort to her at a vulnerable time. Of course, she should not have done what she did, at all. I'm not excusing it. But I wonder if really, truly understanding where someone is coming from is the key to solving the apparently unfathomable behavior of others. So I wondered if anyone has confronted their tormentor with love and understanding, and what did they say? I'm not thinking of doing that, by the way. I'm just discussing forgiveness more generally.
 

Jambalaya

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One general point about forgiveness:

I do believe that really forgiving someone who has hurt us is one of the most challenging things you can attempt.
 

cmd2014

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Maybe you are at a stage that you have forgiven her....it sounds like you have worked through the anger and let it go. And it sounds like you have approached understanding her poor and hurtful behavioral choices from a place of empathy so you can understand (but not agree with) the choices she made. It even sounds like you feel sorry for how her life has turned out because of the troubled nature of her personality (stemming from a difficult childhood? Difficult life experiences? There's something dark inside of her that has driven her to create the life she has). Maybe because of this you can now be at a place to miss the good parts of who she was to you, and to grieve the fact that she has caused this rupture in your relationship and left this hole in your life where she used to be.

The older you get the more you realize that no one is all good or all bad. And that you can love someone but not be able to be with them (as a friend, as a partner, or maybe as a family member). When you get to this place, I think it's normal to be sad. Grief always has anniversaries...times when you miss someone more than other times. The waves come, and then they pass. Maybe it would be more useful to accept that rather than beating yourself up for it? It sounds like you cared about her and that she was important to you, or she couldn't have hurt you so. The stronger the connection the longer the grief. Plus, I don't think that relationships end with absence. They become a part of our memories and histories and they shape who we are and who we become, including the way that they end. I still have times where I think of people who are no longer in my life (through time, circumstance, death, or sometimes conflict). I've never thought of those passing reflections as a problem. But rather just a part of being human. It's just a thought....

And I have to say I like being thought of as a Pearl Girl! It's much nicer than some of the names other people probably use when they think of me (my job is often high conflict), so I'll take it!
 

Jambalaya

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cmd2014|1452982025|3976915 said:
Maybe you are at a stage that you have forgiven her....it sounds like you have worked through the anger and let it go. And it sounds like you have approached understanding her poor and hurtful behavioral choices from a place of empathy so you can understand (but not agree with) the choices she made. It even sounds like you feel sorry for how her life has turned out because of the troubled nature of her personality (stemming from a difficult childhood? Difficult life experiences? There's something dark inside of her that has driven her to create the life she has). Maybe because of this you can now be at a place to miss the good parts of who she was to you, and to grieve the fact that she has caused this rupture in your relationship and left this hole in your life where she used to be.

The older you get the more you realize that no one is all good or all bad. And that you can love someone but not be able to be with them (as a friend, as a partner, or maybe as a family member). When you get to this place, I think it's normal to be sad. Grief always has anniversaries...times when you miss someone more than other times. The waves come, and then they pass. Maybe it would be more useful to accept that rather than beating yourself up for it? It sounds like you cared about her and that she was important to you, or she couldn't have hurt you so. The stronger the connection the longer the grief. Plus, I don't think that relationships end with absence. They become a part of our memories and histories and they shape who we are and who we become, including the way that they end. I still have times where I think of people who are no longer in my life (through time, circumstance, death, or sometimes conflict). I've never thought of those passing reflections as a problem. But rather just a part of being human. It's just a thought....

And I have to say I like being thought of as a Pearl Girl! It's much nicer than some of the names other people probably use when they think of me (my job is often high conflict), so I'll take it!
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, cmd. I have indeed felt very sorry for her, because she has not been as lucky in her life as I've been in mine, by a long stretch, and yes because of the way things have turned out due to her personality. I knew her parents pretty well, and there was nothing weird in her background. My upbringing was significantly worse than hers. But there is definitely a darkness in her that she couldn't seem to shake and it got worse as she got older. Honestly, with her, I think it comes from within. Yes, I did care about her enormously. I knew her for decades and there is a huge hole in my life without her, but frankly the only thing worse than not having her in my life would be having her in my life! I definitely did the right thing, but it's just so sad. All those memories. Perhaps you are right that I shouldn't be surprised when my thoughts turn to her. I've thought of her a lot since the split, and I was kind of disappointed to find myself thinking of her again over New Year. I bet she doesn't think of either of us, me or the other betrayee. I was wondering whether to sell the silver and amethyst necklace she gave me, but I won't do anything hasty. I have tried to enjoy the good memories, but that has not been possible as of yet, and it's hard to believe I'll ever get to that stage, because for me everything is pretty tainted. I have kept the necklace so far, though, although I can't imagine wearing it. This is pretty superstitious, but it would feel like bad luck to do so. Still, I know she tried hard to find a necklace that she thought I'd like style-wise, and she succeeded. I suppose it's tangible evidence that she did care about me once, at least.

I think when someone has been hurt, and a relationship that was otherwise perfectly good has to end, it's natural to wonder "Why? Why did so-and-so have to go do that thing and ruin everything?"

Perhaps I just need a little more time.

You do have the best pearls! I love that triple strand you had together with the metallic drops. So classy!
 

PintoBean

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Jambalaya, are you religious? Is forgiveness a part of the religion you were raised with?

I'm just wondering because I have a friend who talks about forgiveness a lot, interchangeably with showing them grace, but for her, it comes from her Christian upbringing, and how she projects that into her life, is how she's explained this to me.

For me, I don't feel the need to forgive everyone. I've finally made more of a head way making myself a priority, and as such, I've been more apt to react to betrayal as such - I understand that you did this, I may even acknowledge or understand the motivations for your actions, but frankly I don't need this, so get the f out of my life.
 

aljdewey

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For me, the end goal isn't the ability to forget; I think it's the ability to accept what is.

If someone hurts me and he's (or she's) truly remorseful (and shows that remorse by correcting the offending behavior), I need to accept his apology and accept that it wasn't meant to be hurtful. For me, that doesn't mean forgetting it - it means moving past it.

If he is unwilling or incapable of correcting the offending behavior, then I have to accept that it's out of my control. What is in my control is being honest with myself about my ability to live with that ongoing behavior and choosing to terminate the relationship if I can't live with it. That's not forgetting either; it's accepting that you can't change it, even as you wish you could.
 

december-fire

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Jambalaya,

The phrase 'forgive and forget' is an odd one in my opinion.

But I take it to mean the following:

Its about you, your thoughts and personal growth.

Forgiveness means to stop feeling anger, resentment or thoughts of vengeance. Holding onto negative, hateful thoughts is harmful to your health. That's why you should 'forgive'; it means let go of negative, angry feelings.

How do you do that?

Accept that we don't all share the same values; i.e., our beliefs about how to treat other people, the importance we place on honesty, consideration, empathy, etc. What we may think of as 'common decency' in not universally accepted or practiced. Our values prevent us from behaving a certain way; but some people have different values and wouldn't hesitate to behave in a certain manner.

Accept the fact that someone has done something, its a fact, and you can't change history.
You may not be able to convince the person to accept your value system and not repeat the behaviour you found unacceptable.
The other person's behaviour is about them, not you.

Remaining angry or upset won't change the other person's values or behaviours.
(Unless, of course, the person is willing to discuss the event, really hear the impact of their behaviour, and has the desire to change.)
Accept that you can't change the person, this is who they are, and decide if the person is the type of individual you want in your life.

You won't 'forget' what happened, and you shouldn't forget the lessons learned.
On reflection, you may note a pattern of 'red flags' that you didn't recognize at the time, or excused for one reason or another.

Concerning the person you mentioned who cheated with a friend's fiancé, I'm sorry to hear that her boyfriend at the time was abusive. Not an excuse for her behaviour, as you said, but a victim of abuse often feels very low self-esteem and their decision-making can be affected. Again, not an excuse, but I try to understand human behaviour. Sometimes behaviour is a clear demonstration of a person's personality and values. But sometimes there are underlying factors. My apologies if it sounds like I'm stating anything definitive about that person.

Concerning why the person was on your mind a lot around New Year's, it might be because we tend to reflect on where we are in life and what's happened when we are about to enter a new year. I wonder, though, if it was prompted by the actions of the person who didn't invite your family to their New Year's celebration (as you discussed in a different thread). Thinking about the behaviours of one person might cause you to reflect on the behaviours of another. It seems to me that in both situations, people did things that were hurtful and inconsiderate. Just a thought.

Jambalaya,
You are a thoughtful person who considers the feelings of others. :wavey:
 

Jambalaya

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PintoBean|1452987588|3976957 said:
Jambalaya, are you religious? Is forgiveness a part of the religion you were raised with?

I'm just wondering because I have a friend who talks about forgiveness a lot, interchangeably with showing them grace, but for her, it comes from her Christian upbringing, and how she projects that into her life, is how she's explained this to me.

For me, I don't feel the need to forgive everyone. I've finally made more of a head way making myself a priority, and as such, I've been more apt to react to betrayal as such - I understand that you did this, I may even acknowledge or understand the motivations for your actions, but frankly I don't need this, so get the f out of my life.

Hi PintoBean, thanks for your reply. I am privately religious - I don't talk about it, I don't really know the Bible well and rarely go to church, but have seen and felt the hand of what I can only think is God in my life (been protected from disaster over and over, and when I've really needed something like a job it has just appeared) and so feel very close to him in a private sense. However, I don't have a kind of scripture-led approach that guides my life like your friend, so no, I am not thinking of forgiveness in a religious sense. I've started reading the Bible properly and actually in one part it says "I will repay" which I certainly didn't follow, because I really raked her over the coals. My approach is much like yours - very much, in fact - but despite what she did, I still miss our relationship. Thanks for your input - it helps.
 
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