Last evening, he said that I don’t forgive him.  (He has said this before.)  I told him that I do forgive him, but that he keeps doing the same things over and over again and so I don’t trust him.

He asked me what I meant.  I told him that his emotional energy wasn’t in his family, that he lived in his own world, that he does what ever he wants.  I told him that he bought a tractor for his use, for his dad’s use, but he wouldn’t buy a car for his daughter’s use.  I told him that he took time to do his employee’s personal taxes, that he took time to take his dad to a specialty grocery store thirty miles away, that he took time to take his dad to give blood at the Red Cross, but he wouldn’t take time to take my cat to the vet for me.  I asked him to see the pattern, to try to understand what I am saying and how it hurt me, but he just started telling me why he couldn’t have taken my cat to the vet.

This morning, I am thinking about what forgiveness means.  So I decided to look up the definition of forgiveness.  Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

“Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand. punishment or restitution.”

And from Merriam-Webster:

Definition of FORGIVE
transitive verb
a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one’s enemies>

So, do I forgive him?

Since the definition of forgiveness includes giving up resentment, maybe I don’t forgive him.  Sometimes I feel so angry that he hasn’t been a father, that he hasn’t been a husband.

Or maybe it’s me that I don’t forgive.  Maybe I don’t forgive myself for marrying someone who wouldn’t support me and my daughters.  And it’s just easier to resent him than to admit to my part in it.

Recently I heard a message about forgiveness and reconciliation.  Basically, the idea was, you can choose to forgive, but there can’t actually be a relationship, reconciliation, unless there is a change in behavior.  So, say you find it within yourself (or with help from a Higher Power) to forgive your abuser.  That is good.  A first step.  But, there won’t be reconciliation, a relationship, until the abuser stops the abuse.

My husband heard this message the same time as I did.  He pointed his finger at me (figuratively) and said, you don’t forgive.  I, on the other hand, said, you don’t change your behavior.

I guess I need to think more about the resentment that I carry and about forgiveness.

On one level, my reaction to what he does is, “whatever.”

But on a deeper level, it hurts.  It really hurts.  I feel betrayed.

And evidently, that doesn’t matter to him.

So, I need to let it matter to me and take better care of myself.

And forgive myself.

And let go of him.

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11 Responses to forgiveness

  1. K says:

    You’ve nailed it. They don’t change their behavior, they make excuses. I’ve gotten over most of the resentment and anger, but my PA still continues with the selfish stuff.
    He goes to the store (for me) loses the list, shops anyway and gets everything but the one thing I requested. He could have called to make sure everything was purchased…but, he chose not to, and he made sure everything HE wanted was gotten. It sounds like a trivial thing but it’s a pattern of behavior that is pervasive.

  2. I’ve been working on a blog post about forgiveness since the holidays. I’m trying to figure out why it pisses me off so much that people *demand* forgiveness under the guise of *asking* for forgiveness. It seems to me that asking for forgiveness is presumptuous; it puts the cart before the horse (the horse being apologizing, making amends and restitution, and changing one’s hurtful behavior). You’re right, tho, the person you need to forgive is yourself. Later, much later, maybe you can forgive him for yourself. He never has to know. You do what you need to do for yourself and your daughters.

    • I’ve been thinking about this and you’re right. If someone has done something they want forgiveness for, they should take it upon themselves to change FIRST. That will be recognizable and they can be forgiven much easier. I think too often people say, I’m sorry, please forgive me, because they want to get off the hook, not because they really feel bad for what they have done.
      Yes, I do need to forgive myself. I really struggle with that.

  3. nolongerhappy says:

    This latest post has made me think about me and my PA, and although I say I forgive him, the hurt and the resentment stays so in reality, I don’t really forgive. Mostly it’s an acceptance of the status quo, that things are not going to change…. The hardest part is to forgive myself for staying with this person so long that I no longer have any joy in my life. Today, we are taking the last step towards fixing this relationship, but I’m thinking what hope do I have when I can’t really forgive and he can’t really change and he won’t let me go (not without a fight anyways) :( so not in good place today…

    • If he can’t change, it doesn’t sound like there is much hope for the relationship. That sounds like my situation, too. He doesn’t see what’s wrong so he can’t change. And if he can’t change, then there can’t really be reconciliation, even if there is forgiveness.

  4. You’re right, it’s about forgiving yourself more than forgiving him.
    I don’t think you should forgive him though. Letting go of your anger towards yourself is one thing, but your anger towards him can empower you to do something about the situation.

  5. daXmom says:

    My daughter is struggling with exactly the same feelings. Her DA tries to make others feel guilty when we don’t confuse forgiving and reconciling, when we do separate his words, “I’m sorry, but,” from his actions. Now Oooda is contemplating detaching with love, how to use healthy care of self as the emotion to step aside or apart rather than hatred of another as the force to step back.
    I don’t see anger and love as mutually exclusive, either. When our children do wrong, we can simultaneously feel anger at the wrong and love for our children. Ah, life is complex.

  6. nolongerhappy says:

    it’s difficult to sort through the whole lot of emotions!! I can forgive but the hurt and the resentment stays even when the PA has apologized and is on their best behaviour. I feel bad for expecting the smoke screen (best behaviour) to go away and for the rotten behaviour to come back or worse even more subtle behaviour to show up. I get sucked back in again :(

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