Ask Us: Why Can’t I Forgive?

Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.“– C.S. Lewis

In this post we will briefly answer a question that was asked by one of our clients. Here is today’s question:

“I recently learned that my husband had been unfaithful to me. When it came to light, he was totally repentant and remorseful about the whole thing. He says it is over. It is in the past. It is something that will never happen again. The problem is, I can’t forgive him, and just move on. No matter how much he wants me to do that. I want to believe him, but how can I believe him? There are days when I look at him and think to myself: “I will never, ever trust a word you say again.”

I’m constantly triggered and have panic attacks. I also find myself going over and over everything he said, and everything that happened. How can you forgive when you’re dealing with all this?”

It sounds like you have been through a lot, and may currently be dealing with PTSD. I would also say it is understandable that you feel it’s very hard to forgive right now.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this …

1. The fact that you are triggered, and you keep remembering things, and the fact that it is so hard to let go of what has happened, are signs that you have started to look out for yourself.

These are healthy signs of appropriate self-protection. It’s absolutely right that you listen to concerns and make sure your safety and protection come first. This leads me to point no2.

2. Through these instinctive reactions, your subconscious mind is saying: “You need to be more careful, and you need to stay alert. You could be badly hurt again if you forgive, and just move on. You need to pay attention. You don’t want to be naive.”

If he was willing to betray you and deceive you in the past, of course he could betray you and deceive you again. Words count for nothing in this kind of situation. To trust, you’re going to need substantial evidence.

3. This resistance to forgive is an act of pure self-love For your subconscious mind and core self are telling you:

I care about what happens, and I’m looking out for you. I am watching to make sure that no-one ever hurts or harms you. I’ll always be there for you. I won’t abandon you.

These 3 points indicate your mind is trying to protect you. And by rushing to forgive we do ourselves a great disservice.

For now, forget forgiveness. You are processing a trauma.

And processing that trauma must take priority.

17 thoughts on “Ask Us: Why Can’t I Forgive?

  1. You can improve from the trauma, forgiveness does not mean you ever trust him again or even stay with him.

    Your trust has nothing to do with his behavior or whether he will,do it again.

    Of course he wants to have everything go away.

    Sounds like this is his problem he should of thought if the consequences first

    Asking forgiveness later sucks

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nailed it, as usual, DLH.

    Consequences suck, huh?

    Especially for the loyal party. They never think of that. Just themselves and how annoying it is you’re so damaged, hurt, upset, traumatised. “Unforgiving.”

    Selfish, through and through.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a wise article. I have historically just always felt obligated to jump to ‘forgive’. ‘Hey let’s forget.’ I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to remember. ‘It never happened. Just forgive and forget about it, you’re forgiven… That’s how God does it right?’ I would say to myself. What’s left is a life built on lies denial self deception and pain I had no idea from where because I would honestly forget. Whatever IT is that needed to be forgiven. What’s left is a shattered person trying to hold it together by attempting to control the uncontrollable around her. I’m practicing I for the first time. I would recommend anyone I truly love to practice I for themselves, process the trauma on themselves before any hope of an US or WE if I cause them harm. Accept both the consequences for my actions as well as grace if they offer. But I’m at a place I need to heal. I have a lot of healing to do. I don’t know if it’s my perfectionism or unworthy thing I’m working on but I don’t want to cause others pain by getting too close to me before I heal. It would be irresponsible of me and selfish. If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. The universe will bring back together the healthy versions of ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. While forgiveness is a step in the direction of healing for victims, I fully agree that it must not be rushed. Victims must first mourn their losses. They may need to rage for a time as part of the grieving process. Forgiveness does not restore trust. That may never be restored.

    Liked by 1 person

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