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After lies and bitterness, how do you get to forgiveness?

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Hola Enots. Just looking for a little perspective and advice.


My breakup was about 2.5 months ago. He said he needed time to figure out if he could marry me. I've been totally NC for about one month and now have no desire to get back with him.


The reason: Since the breakup, I found out that he lied to me on a fairly frequent basis throughout the relationship. These range from little white ones to great big huge ones. One lie -- during the breakup, he said he had no interest in dating and that he had deleted his profiles. I looked; he's still on them and more active than ever. (And this is a man considering marriage?)


Yes, my looking was an act of weakness, but it has helped me validate my decision to move on.


Now I'm wondering.... how do I forgive and let go of the anger and or bitterness? I'm not consumed by it, but I do feel as if I harbor ill feelings towards this person. I know it's okay to feel that way...for a while...but I'm coming to realize that now I'm out of the hole, the anger and bitterness isn't doing me as many favors as it was in the beginning of the healing process.


I can feel myself, in little bits and pieces, forgiving and letting go, but I'm not sure how this will play out in a final "confrontation," if there is one. If there is, it will have to be initiated by him, because I don't think I'll ever reach out to him again.


I have no respect for his actions, but he's human. Does he deserve my bitterness and hatred? No, not really. He's just another flawed human being like the rest of us.


How do you guys deal with this stuff? I will never enter into a relationship with this person again, and friendship is out of the question too -- I've lost a lot of my respect for him. (Kind of critical for friendship, let alone a relationship). What do I tell him if he reaches out to me? How do I become the bigger person in this? How do you act with compassion towards someone you have little respect for? Or is the loss of respect still my bitterness showing through?


You guys rock, btw.

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it sounds like he sloped off and was specifically trying to avoid a confrontation, so i doubt there will be one unless you pursue him for it.


if he's lied to you you don't have to become a 'bigger person' by being compassionate towards him. he made his choices, and now he has to live with them. loss of respect is a consequence of lying. you probably lost respect for him because he DESERVED to lose your respect if he behaved badly or deceitfully.


The bitterness will fade because you will eventually get to the point you don't care about it anymore. but the loss of respect will stay if he lied and deceived.


So it is healthy to not respect someone who deceived you. Otherwise you would be a fool to keep trusting a liar. Remember that your emotions are your own, and you are entitled to feel them, good or bad. You don't need to feel bad about them, especially if his behavior warranted disrespect.

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^ I love that, BeStrongBeHappy.


I've gotten to the point where I have forgiveness myself, and the ex, for all the lies and cheating.


I do not have a great deal of respect for him, and his is not part of my life in any form nor will he be.


But I don't feel bitter or angry anymore, not really at all. That came with time, and recognizing "One man does not represent all men, all people, it is just one situation into itself."


So long as you can avoid generalizing what this one person did or didn't do, and the circumstances there, into other areas of your life...bitterness won't be a problem.


Compassion for the ex came with time, too, because at one time I truly did care about him - and simple enough - he is a human being. My compassion for him is no different now that the compassion i'd feel for a stranger.


Seeing how my choice is to try to live a life that recognizes the humanity in everyone - live long enough and it has been shown to me that even those I've witnessed do the most despicable things, and behave horribly, and worse be apathetic to the humanity to others - even these people have some wee goodness or humanity or something they care about in them.


It doesn't mean that we have to extend open arms to all, it just is important to recognize for ourselves that people can not be categorized so easily. Fall for the generalizations and we set ourselves up for bitterness and pain, and poor choices too and repeating mistakes we could well have avoided.


Sometimes the compassionate choice is to be the strong one when others are weak. This is how I see it now with my ex when he occasionally tries to contact me.


I simply ignore it. I know it's the right thing to do.

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Allie, thanks for the link. I absolutely agree with the statement that forgiveness does not mean you condone the injustice.


So you will never speak to your ex husband again? How were your last conversations colored? Were you very bitter?


Be Strong. You're right, there is a very good chance I will never hear from him again, and I hope that's what happens. He doesn't deserve my respect, and I know that. I guess one of my questions is, what if we meet somewhere on the street accidentally, or if he tries to get chummy again somewhere down the line? Do I put him in line and tell him exactly that ("I lost respect for you"), or do I just smile, nod, and keep on walking?


You are right...i will never trust or respect him as I did before. So you think the bitterness will just fade with time?

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Sometimes the compassionate choice is to be the strong one when others are weak. This is how I see it now with my ex when he occasionally tries to contact me.


I simply ignore it. I know it's the right thing to do.


Itsallgrand, I think I'm almost there. I can feel the cynicism wearing off. How long did it take you to get where you are, letting go of the anger and bitterness? Do you feel totally yourself again?


And I completely agree about responding to his paltry attempts at contact. Responding would just further a cycle of not-quite-rightness. [Edit: the only reason I would respond is if he truly made a heartfelt and sincere attempt]

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I'm feeling like a stronger version of myself, actually better than when I was with him.


It took close to a year to really get to the point where there was no lingering doubts or sadness or regrets or anger about it. About where I am now.


It took that long because of how long I was with him...it was a separation of two lives and took time to digest it all.


It's true what they say. The more effort you put into yourself and treat this other like a fleck in the eye, the better.


That's how it is now. He is someone from the past. I can't sit around feeling bad about the past.

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You have gotten some very wise words here, in the end it really is about you now. If we focus on how we feel, what we are comfortable with, how we move forward for ourselves, everything falls into line.


Whether you blow him off or just politely ignore him if there is a chance encoutner will be what is comfortable for you. Each is equally as valid.

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Allie, thanks for the link. I absolutely agree with the statement that forgiveness does not mean you condone the injustice.


So you will never speak to your ex husband again? How were your last conversations colored? Were you very bitter?





My husband committed adultry with many woman and hid it from me for 10 years.


I refuse to be bitter, because people who are bitter on the inside end up looking bitter on the outside. I have seen them...and no matter how "beautiful" their looks, they have an "ugliness" about them.


I believe bitterness and anger are bad for the soul. I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS EASY. Because it's not. But that link I sent you is something that my mom gave me. And it took me a LONG time to "get it"...it's not something that comes overnight.


Will I ever condone what happened? No. Will I ever be his friend? No. Will I ever have anything to do with him again? No. But I don't have to. We have no children. We have no "ties that bind."


I am forgiving him for MYSELF...for my own heart...for my own soul. To get my OWN inner peace.


Keep reading and re-reading that. It'll take a while. But one of these days, it will "click".


Believe me....the "anger" phase takes a LONG time to get over. You have every right to be angry. I'm not saying you should discount it. Just don't stay that way. FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.


Remember...it's NOT about HIM...it's all about YOU...you NEVER have to say to him "I forgive you." This is just for you girl.



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Oh, Allie, you are sooooooo right.


Forgiving him isn't for his benefit, it is for my own. Forgiveness has nothing to do with making him feel better. It has everything to do with me letting go of the anger and bitterness and getting to a better place for ME.




Now you've got it girl!!!




I think you'll get there!!


You just print that out and read it every day...and you'll be surprised that one of these days it just "clicks" for you.


Honest...it will. Because I can tell just by your post that you "get it"...



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Here are two sayings that have carried me through all the tough times, among others ...


"Forgive and forget, and while you're at it, forget that you forgave."


This truly is the definition of "moving on" with your life.


I am not a Bible quoter but this always comes back from my youth, a saying that helps me move past what others have done to me ...


"Forgive then Father for they know not what they do"


When you look at those who have created the hurt of others, deep within themselves they cannot see outside of their own needs, their own wants, their own feelings, they really do not know. If they truly could look outside themselves they would be able to find the courage to handle all these challenges and conflicts with better empathy and kindness. I sincerely believe that my ex is unable to be a "better" person, he is trapped by his dysfunctions. I can't feel pity for him for he has way too much self pity already, but I can see who he is and his limitations, easier to forgive the incapable person, but as everyone says, I don't have to like him, or respect him, in fact I can loath what he represents.


Obviously he wasn't always that way, or he was and hid it very successfully for many years, I won't get those answers, but they really aren't necessary.


I agree that too often it is thought that forgiveness is embracing those who have hurt us, I believe it is acceptance of who I am, who he is and realizing he could be no different, then I can forgive him in that sense.


As we all have free will, he could have made choices in his life that would have made him a more healthy and whole person.


If a person chooses alcohol, infidelity, drugs, abusiveness or any of the behaviors we have experienced upon ourselves, we can say we want to help them, change them, save them from their destructive path. But in the end I cannot choose for him anymore than I can choose for you. In letting go, forgiveness comes along more easily.

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Allie, Itsallgrand, you two make me smile. Thanks for your perspective. It helps to talk to people who have been here and struggled to get through these things themselves.


JustME, I think my ex also doesn't realize the consequences of his lying and dishonesty. I don't think he realizes that he IS accountable for his actions. I think he believes that as long as he gets away with it and nobody finds out, he is better off lying to other people.


I wonder how he can form truly meaningful relationships if all he does is surround himself in a blanket of his own lies. He is doing himself a disservice, and I imagine he will be kind of unhappy until he realizes his lies sabotage his chances at forming deep, meaningful connections in life.


In that way, I do pity him a bit. Both of your quotes are very apt. I honestly hope he figures it all out...I do hope he realizes that although lying may help him get certain things, those things are bought at a significant price.


In turn, I hope I can learn to trust myself and believe know that my decisions are my own, and as long as I am true to that, I feel good about being accountable to MYSELF.

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Bambina - You may have seen my mantra, I repeat it a lot and its in my signature. "All people make sense all the time." His cheating made sense to him when he did it and I don't know his sense. Perhaps one or both of his parents cheated a lot when he was young. Perhaps he was trying to hurt himself by ruining a relationship because of self-worth issues. It could be many things. What I do feel confident in saying is it made sense to him. I also believe he was doing his best based on all of the skills he possesses. From my standpoint, I find it hard to hate someone who was doing what made sense and was doing his/her best, so I just don't. I forgive. I also recognize that I am doing my best, and what I did made sense, so why should I hate myself. The 3rd line of my signature also comes in here. It took me a few months for this way of thinking to set in, and once it did, it has made healing much easier for me and much faster, since it is helping me let go of the past and move to a better future.


One other thing I believe is that people lie when they don't feel safe telling the truth. If you get where your ex didn't feel safe with you, maybe that will help explain his behavior, and make it easier to forgive.


As always, this is just my opinion. Make of it what you will.

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Eyes, I'm digesting what you said about everyone making sense all the time. I'm sure his actions made sense in his own mind (can't be classified as cheating really, since we are broken up, but he lied about dating other people and the profiles). I think you are right...he was/is doing what makes sense to him.


He's played his pity card a few times -- his parents are unhappily married (arranged) as is his sister, I guess. Yeah, he's scared of commitment... and I can see where his behavior stems from... and that doesn't excuse his actions, but you're right, it does make it easier to accept and understand.


Part of moving on is also reconciling what you thought someone was (or what you wanted them to be) and realizing who they really are.


This is more of a philosophical tanget, but do you really feel that all people are doing their best at any given moment? That seems like it kind of takes out choice/free will. Just curious.

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Bambina - I get that to you it sounds like it takes out choice/free will. I see it differently. Yes, I believe that people are doing their best at any given moment. I believe we are all just products of our upbringing and of all the choices we've made up to now. So, if I have a bad day at work because I didn't sleep well, I'm still doing the best I can that day based on my exhaustion or distractedness or whatever. I don't think it means that "my best" can't be "better" tomorrow. I put "better" in quotes, because I think that its a relative term. If you and I work the same job, and I routinely produce twice as much of you, but I have a down day and only produce 10% more than you, aren't I still doing "better" than you? IMO, it depends on your observation point. If an outside observer who had never seen us work before was there for the first time, he/she would probably think that I was doing "better", when in my mind and perhaps yours, I was having a terrible day. Another poster I have up says "Every time I fail, its just standards that are wrong. I'm trying to remember this." In other words, if I am doing my best at all times, how can I ever fail by my own standards? Its only by others standards that I have failed. Now, this doesn't mean I'll never get fired or relationships won't work out or anything like that, it just means that I will not beat myself up for doing the best I could at that moment. If I want to do "better", then I need to change my standards. IMO, the "at any given moment" is the key. I think it does imply choice/free will, because at any given moment, I can choose to raise my standards. Just because my father is passive and allows my mother to dominate the relationship and that's how I was in relationships because its how I grew up (i.e., I was doing the best I could), doesn't mean that I can't go out and acquire the skills to do a relationship differently. And, until I become an expert in those skills, I will not do them, well, expertly. However, I will be doing them to the best of my ability at that moment. Right now, I'm working on becoming an expert in validation. On a 1-10 scale, I think I'm maybe a 3 right now. So, that's the best I can do today. However, 3 months ago, I was a 1...so that's the best I could do then. I just raised the bar for myself. I'll be happy when I'm a 9 or 10, however since I'm not a 9 or 10 now, if I beat myself up for failing, its because the standards are wrong. I need to set my standards for someone who is a 3. If I do that, then I've succeeded, and I think it makes it easier for me to move up to being a 4.


I like where you say "Part of moving on is also reconciling what you thought someone was (or what you wanted them to be) and realizing who they really are." That's what I mean by getting your sense. I also call it "putting his/her head on your shoulders." If you can think like your ex does, and get his sense for why he did these, I think its easier to react without judgment, which IMO is a reaction of true love and understanding, and it makes building a strong relationship easier.


Again, its just my thoughts on this.

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Star, how long ago was your breakup?


I think right after a breakup, you can't feel bad about not being able to forgive, not even remotely. You already have enough other things to feel horrible about...the feelings of rejection, the loneliness, the drastic change in every day life, the analyzing and the mood swings, the trepidation and the fear of the unknown, and whatever other ingredients were a part of your breakup.


Deal with all of those things first and formost. Allow yourself to feel everything: anger, sadness, loss, hope, defeat. I don't think you can get to forgiveness until you've let yourself go through the pain of the breakup first. There is no need to rush to forgive.


Why do you think you feel horrible about not being able to forgive? Do you feel you owe something to the dumper somehow?

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