“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.