How I Forgave My Ex And You Can Too
Whoever said that “I forgive but I don’t forget” had a lot more strength, courage and maturity than we give them credit for. After all, we do live in the sweep-it-under-the-rug social media society. Here and now, we are programmed to amplify the happiness and suppress the hurt, sorrow and disappointment we feel when life or personal relationships go awry. But if you don’t forgive, then the hurt turns into hate and eats your pretty insides out (making you unhinged on the outside).
Take me for example. In the past two years, I have dealt with situations that made me dismal by turning to alcohol and unsuccessfully sweeping my hurt under the rug. The hurt from a failed relationship of being constantly taken for granted and the hurt from being betrayed by friends who sold me out as the vulnerable sacrifice. But not once did it occur to me to forgive them before swinging another glass of whiskey. I convinced myself to forget about it, to drown my sorrows and to “grow up”, because apathy was superior and forgiveness was for the weak. But all that time, I didn’t realize that the weakness lay in me.
But I am not alone. Many people think that if you chose to dwell on things such as a cheating ex-boyfriend, an evasive ex-boyfriend, a ghosting friend or just a generally shitty person then you are giving power to the person who doesn’t deserve to be a superhero in your life. All I am constantly hearing is, “you need to move on like Samantha did in Sex and The City” or “just forgive them and be the bigger person”. But that doesn’t work, Becky-with-the-good-hair. Has it ever worked in the history of forgiveness?
I think not. Who has ever fully moved on from “being the bigger person” in a situation? Not many people that I know. And not me. In fact a study (by professor, psychologist and forgiveness specialist Kathy Belicki), conducted in 2010, clearly states that no matter whether you understand forgiveness or not, forgiving for egotistical reasons never really works.
“The way that you forgive your terrible ex, and the reasons for which you forgive them, have a massive effect on how you feel.” — Kathy Belicki
People who forgive to feed their ego and accelerate their healing process for practical reasons just don’t get it. They are stuck in the desire of wanting to move on but not fulling understanding the hurt they are trying to move on from.
“It’s a paradox because people who are forgiving to feel better are consistently not feeling better.” — Kathy Belicki
So what is a girl to do? First step, deal with the tragedy.
Set-aside what gossip magazines and self-proclaimed women’s guides have been telling us for centuries and ask yourself: what the hell am I forgiving? Am I forgiving the betrayal I feel from a cheating ex? The lies I discovered? The time I lost? Or forgiving myself for falling into this trap?
We need to process this before we can forgive and move on. Infact, moving on and forgiving don’t even have to be simultaneous. I can move on from my best friend and ex fornicating in my apartment building but I don’t have to forgive them just yet. And a Taiwanese study validates this. It says that those who forgive out of obligation, “still scored high on anger-related measurements such as blood pressure and facial expressions” than those who forgave because of their moral inclination towards forgiveness. But the key takeaway from the study: you don’t have to initially forgive to move on. You need to deal with your trauma first.
Belicki (professor and professional forgiving badass) agrees that you can move on from trauma without forgiveness if you face it head on. Immerse yourself into the pain, speak to others, write it down and when you are ready to feel sorry for the other person and not yourself, then you can finally discover the art of altruistic forgiveness.
“The people who forgive as a gift to their ex or to humanity, and people who forgive for a principle, those are the people who feel better” — Kathy Belicki
Altruistic forgiveness is the kind of forgiveness Kathy Belicki and I subscribe to. It’s investing in your long term happiness by letting your ex know you forgive them only after you have truly moved on. Only after you have that revenge body, the dream new job or a new man who now treats you right. Whatever your moving on kool aid, once you drink it, only then is your terrible ex notified about the party. Also, the best route to forgiving someone (even if you have a hard time doing it) is by putting yourself in their shoes.
Imagine why this person was the way they were. Maybe it was the best thing at the time for him to choose another partner who understood him better so he could deal with his own personal issues and future growth. Try having an open and honest conversation with the person in your head or role play with your friend because there is no magic formula to forgiveness. There is only empathy that you can pour out in the world and hope that it heals you.
Originally published on my blog.