Are You Ready To Forgive Your Ex?

Love, Family

We hear a lot about forgiveness — why it is important, good for us, and worth attempting. But why is it so hard? How do we know that we are ready?

What is forgiveness?

Forgiving is not forgetting or pretending past events didn’t happen. It is accepting that they did and finding ways to reclaim any emotional energy that is still stuck back in past events. That energy can include feelings of hurt, anger, or resentment.

What kept me from forgiving?

I recently tested my own heart, deep down. How fully had I forgiven my ex for the hurts around our separation and divorce? And if not, why the heck not? It was twenty years ago!

This morning, breathing in a cool January sky, I realized that I had stayed angry to protect myself from falling for my ex again. Really? What an unwelcome thought. Well. . . . perhaps. I did love John so much that when he stopped loving me, it took a long time for me to pry my heart loose from him. It wasn’t just John that I clung to – or my image of him – but also the family that we had created together.

My head had told me he had left the marriage. Take care of yourself, move on, build a new future. And my heart, oh so reluctantly, supported me in doing so. My flaring anger was my shield against feeling any tugs of familiar warmth or attraction. Very useful, that shield was, for many years. It allowed me to function as a co-parent in contacts with John that I would rather have avoided. After a few years, it became a habitual stance that felt comfortable.

Now, twenty years later, can I let go of that shield? I think so. My newer self and life have rooted, developed, and flourished. I have come to accept how my own weaknesses play out in my life and forgiven myself, pretty much, for being less than perfect.

I can encounter John, now, and see him for all that he is, and is not.

I feel lighter.

Are you ready to forgive?

The time to let down a shield is when the strong body behind it no longer needs protection. When you can feel, deep down, that your core self has made peace with what happened, and doesn’t need to react any more. It can take time, determination and willingness to explore strong feelings to arrive at this place. It cannot be rushed. Nor should we forget that it is possible.

How about you? Are you carrying anger about things in the past? Your sticking points may be different than mine. Can you understand why you struggle to forgive your ex-partner? If your anger is a shield, do you need it all, now? If you could look at yourself and your situation from a distance, like from a mountaintop, would what you see still make sense?

Gently ask yourself if it’s time to lighten what you carry. Perhaps you are ready.

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