There is nothing that irks me more than the whole “forgive and forget” gig. Does forgiveness mean you had a lobotomy? We can forgive and still be smart. No matter what, safety is #1 and if you don’t feel safe with someone, forgive them, let it go so it doesn’t eat you up alive, but be smart and stay away.
Sure, it’s hard not to trust someone you once loved. I remember going through my divorce, knowing my ex-husband cheated. Even with knowing this, I tried 3 times to make it work. I wanted to trust, I wanted what I thought I had. I wanted my family to be whole, not “broken.”
Spending 10 years with someone, and having children with them, is a big commitment. As a divorce attorney, I didn’t want to be one of those statistics. My greatest mistake during separation was looking toward him to help me through the healing process. I wasn’t smart. I should have had better judgment and I should have had better boundaries around who was and who was not trustworthy.
The person that hurt me was not trustworthy.
If you are a person who wants to trust, you might also a person who wants to let go and not hold onto a grudge. We’ve all seen people who years after a divorce are still angry, bitter, spewing blaming words. It hurts our heart and our soul to be filled with such venom. Being cheated on, used, trust abused in anyway, is a force to be reckoned with. And it has NOTHING to do with the person who hurt you, it has everything to do with YOU. Forgiveness certainly brings about peace and resolution.
People who are chronic long-term victims don’t take personal responsibility for how they feel. They live in a magical world where if you are angry long enough, blame someone long enough, you’ll feel better. Some believe that if they cannot forget what happened, they can’t forgive. Not so.
Be smart. Be Safe. Don’t get yourself in a messy situation thinking that forgiveness means you have to trust. It does not.
Trust and forgiveness do NOT go hand in hand.
So, what is the #1 downfall of forgiveness without trust? It’s holding onto the belief that if one person hurt you, other’s will. Do NOT build a wall around you to protect yourself from getting hurt.
We all have our triggers. When I went through my divorce, it brought me right back to an old teenage belief – “all men cheat.” My facts to back this up were that both my mother’s husbands cheated. Twenty years later, as an attorney, my black and white thinking was triggered. Like all men, he cheated, so I thought I should withhold forgiveness and punish him.
And then I put up walls to protect myself from other hurts. It made me inaccessible to the one thing I wanted most, to be loved. Building walls around you might keep you safe from being hurt, but it also prevents you from loving again.
It’s easy to set up a fortress to protect yourself from being hurt. But the person hurt most by the walls will be you. To keep your walls down:
- Be the person who knows you can be hurt and survive.
- Understand that with vulnerability comes strength and courage.
- Know you can be hurt and bounce back.
- Know you can be hurt and learn to notice red-flags and wisely stay away. In other words, build boundaries that respect your privacy and keep you safe, yet let those worthy into your inner circle of trust.
- Learn who is worthy of your trust.
- Do your best to stay away from blaming all men, all women, for what your ex did to you.