by Sandra Beck
One of the things that strikes me on a weekly basis is how I can in one week forgive my ex-husband for his cheating and abandonment of me and then the next week I’m back to hating his guts and those of Bozo his mistress. Am I bitter? You bet. Angry? Totally. Able to let it go and move on….not so much.
What I have found with forgiveness is that it’s not really a one-shot deal. Now sometimes it’s because the original sin is aggravated. When my ex gave my child’s mother’s day card made in his kindergarten class to his mistress I wanted to rip his and her heads off. I went into this crazy mommy spiral thinking how could Bozo as a mother accept that card? It created a litany of personal wrongs that whipped my non-forgiving spirit into full force. I got all caught up in a tangle of withdrawn forgiveness for my ex, for Bozo and for myself because it most scenarios there’s more than one thing to forgive and one person. It’s hard just to forgive like rain off an umbrella all the individual betrayals that make up an affair. And when one forgiveness is challenged, it can cause a whole hailstorm of memories that require forgiveness.
But sometimes, without apparent warning, reverse forgiveness just hits you. I hear this from my friends who were in long term marriages and relationships and their partner cheated on them and left. It affects both men and women. The cheating is bad enough but then to be left with your hat in hand is like salt in a paper cut. Many report the same things as I am expressing to you. There are good days and bad days with respect to forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an ongoing struggle – like laying off the potato chips. It’s awfully tempting to relax into bitterness. It’s quite frankly a whole lot easier being bitter than moving on. Being bitter is sort of fun at times. Mean snarky things come out of my mouth that make me and others laugh at Bozo and my ex. It creates a temporary albeit memorable fix. It’s a lot more effort to take the high road, be the bigger person and to let things go.
I think its important to not only teach each other that forgiveness is a process but also that forgiveness is not a permanent state of being- at least it was not for me. I have to admit I kind of expected the sun to shine down on me, angels to strum their harps and I would magically lose 30 pounds all because I had found forgiveness. Well, it didn’t and it doesn’t.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to be realistic with yourself in your expectations of what happens when you finally “forgive” that person. Know that you can and probably will take it back especially when they do stupid and hurtful things to you. Know that you can reverse forgiveness and then find it again. We are human and do the best we can. And it’s much harder to be on the forgiveness train than the cheater bus.
Don’t believe me? Check out Amazon and see how many books there are to help the person who was betrayed. Thousands. No so much information out there to help the cheater recover. Why? Because they had fun running about and cheating while the rest of us stayed home and raised the kids and paid the bills. I read the cheater posts online, but somehow it’s hard for me to feel empathy for their guilt that they spent the night in a five star hotel with someone else’s husband – especially when family trips were spent in the Holiday Inn.
Hmmm…See? I’m back in my reverse forgiveness bitterness mode. But thankfully I have an outlet like writing and supporting others in their recover journey. I encourage you to find a healthy one for you. Because, after all, you can recover, you can rebound or you can Bounce with Style.
Sandra Beck, owner of Motherhood Incorporated is the host of three popular radio shows Military Mom Talk Radio, Motherhood Talk Radio and Poweredup with Beck and Franklin.