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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 9:16 am 
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It is not my intention to ever have contact with my ex husband again. He has demonstrated a capacity for deceptiveness and represents too much danger to expose to myself and the children. I have no interest in being involved in his journey, whether it is a complete surrender to his compulsions, or whether he finds a path to recovery.

I do believe in forgiveness. I have never had the habit of holding onto anger or grudges and I'm sure I will be able to come to terms with what has happened, eventually. I'm not there yet. I wish I was because I would love to be free to move on but I am where I am, and I accept it. I do not feel as if I am spinning my wheels. I see my progress as forward but I'm in a space where it just has to be slow.

I'm working on the exercise on forgiveness and it's just come a little too soon for me. I've looked at it several times and every time I read...

Quote:
As we explore the concept of forgiveness, take a few moments to ensure that you are in the right frame of mind. This means that you will not be filtering what you read through a defensive, aggressive, defiant or otherwise emotionally-challenged state.


I know that I am in a somewhat emotionally charged state and it is pointless to deny it.

But then I read this...

Quote:
And the final perception is to refine your perceptions based on your partner in the context of his/her life span. To see them as a total being, from child to adult. To humanize them once more.


... and I realise that this is a big place where I am stuck. I have some compassion for him. His family of origin is very dysfunctional and reinforce his skewed view of the world. I can see he doesn't get it, doesn't realise how serious his behaviour was and thinks that if he just acts as if it is all in the past, it will all go away, that the children will forgive him, or forget about it if enough time passes (which is how his family handles these things).

But there are some aspects of his behaviour I just can't grasp.

He said in front of the family therapist that he had "... never felt compassion for another human being in his life." Before I knew what he had done to my daughter but when I ran across the first evidence of child pornography I asked him if some sort of an alarm didn't go off in his head saying "Whoa, this is really wrong"? He said "Once, it crossed my mind but then I just thought... whatever, it's just the kind of guy I am."

He says that the only feelings he had over going into my daughter's (his stepdaughter's) bedroom in the middle of the night was "fear of discovery" and after she committed suicide again, only "... fear of discovery"

When I found out that he had been publicly masturbating and had routinely stalked women in the street I must have looked horrified and he said scornfully, "Oh gee, don't overreact!" And when he divulged that some of the women became aware (and panicked) when he was following them around dark streets at night, I asked him what he had done (looking for some signs of empathy) and he responded "I just walked faster, thinking that if I could overtake them, they'd realise I was no threat to them"!

So, here's my problem, no matter how hard I think around this, I find it really hard to humanise him.

I realise that he is probably ASBPD with some NPD. He does have feelings but they are really only about him, self-pity, fear of abandonment, painfully low self-esteem etc. But none of his pain translates into compassion for his victims. He is not the person I thought he was (albeit a very skilled actor) and I can't like the person he is.

I've tried to think of him as a little baby, with his most fundamental emotional needs, unmet but when he had the chance with a loving and trusting family, he trashed us. He hurt the people who loved him and, as he said, "... never felt anything but fear of discovery".

I want to find a way through this so I can move on. It doesn't sit well with me to "one dimensionalise" him as a monster. I'm struggling to understand him in "human" terms. What kind of a person thinks like this?


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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 12:01 pm 
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Oh Andromache,
The consequences that you are coping with are so much more extreme that the consequences that many of us have faced! It's hard to grasp how a human could make the choices that he did, see the consequences of what he did, and still only fear for his own discovery. I can see why you're struggling to humanize him.
I want to affirm that his choices were monstrous. Humans have the option of choosing to behave as monsters. So I think part of the solution might be to not attempt to humanize the choices. I think if this were me I would start by trying to get a more complete picture of him as a person. You're not trying to understand why he made the choices, you're trying to get an image of him as a human being. Not even a good human being, just a human being. So what makes him, himself. The good, the bad, the frightening, the childhood, the traumas, the highs and lows. If you know, what was he like when he was born? How was he born? What do you think he will feel when it is time for him to die? What do you think the best moment of his life was? What about the worst? What are his best expressions of his humanity? List what you believe are his worst? None of this excuses or explains any of the choices he made in your relationship. To a certain extent, I think those choices, those reactions are unexplainable to a rational mind. This is just the most complete image you can get of him as a person. Each person has answers to these questions. This is who he is, the good and the bad.
I don't think the goal is to understand their choices, to excuse them, or to make those choices "okay" in anyway. Forgiveness doesn't do that. At least in my mind, forgiveness is to release the desire to have control over their life for the purposes of retribution. To clarify, that doesn't mean to protect them from consequences - I think you can have forgiven and still participate in other people's control over their life by way of legal measures etc if appropriate... Just that you will not be the direct enforcer of those consequences.
I have no idea if that will help. You mentioned at the beginning that your progress is forward, but slow; and I think that with all you have faced that's probably the healthiest way to move. This is not a process that has to be rushed. The choice to forgive him does not have to be made until you're ready (if at all). I am so sorry for all you have lost.
Mrs. Jones


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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 6:43 pm 
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Thank-you Mrs Jones. You wrote,
Quote:
The choice to forgive him does not have to be made until you're ready (if at all).

In all honesty, I'm not sure where I'll end up with this. I want to be authentic and true to myself. I've looked into my heart and I know that I haven't forgiven him at this point. All I can say is that I've given myself permission to forgive him, if and when I arrive at that place.

I have given up any desire to control any outcomes with him, either through caring for him, as I once did, or even a desire for retribution. No amount of retribution will bring anything back and I am not obsessed with thoughts of revenge or control. I also have no interest in protecting him from the consequences of his actions.

Most of my feelings centre around grief (I accept time will help me here) and a certain level of shocked disbelief. I knew him for twenty-seven years and for twenty-four of them, his true nature was completely hidden from me. Was it really? Is there no part of the man I thought he was? He seemed so upright, so much the complete family man. He professed to admire honesty, ethics, loyalty. He appeared to be compassionate, even though he later admitted that he wasn't. He claimed to love us and I accept that he thought (thinks) he did (does)?

I realise that no-one is all good or all bad. We are complex. I just can't figure out how much of my picture of him, if any, is rooted in reality. I used to believe that I was good at assessing people but I was so completely blind-sided by him, and for decades, I don't trust any picture I build up about him anymore. I don't know who he is (was). I can't get my head around it.


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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 10:59 pm 
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andromache wrote:
I just can't figure out how much of my picture of him, if any, is rooted in reality.


This makes sense. The person that he turned out to be was so completely opposite from who you believed him to be. I've been sitting here for the past 10 minutes, reading what you wrote, thinking about what you said, thinking about how to separate a person from the image they project of themselves and the barest facts of their life. I confess I have found very few answers. But I can feel your grief and disbelief in what you wrote and I wanted to tell you that I am with you tonight. I hope you come to the answers that you need to be at peace.
Mrs Jones


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 1:12 am 
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I can't even try to put myself in your shoes. I remember telling my H ... when everything was a fog of lies and deceit and I would imagine the worst possible things about him even without any proof or reason for concern ... I told him that if he ever touches the kids (his kids, not mine), I will kill him. And I was dead serious. Also, I could deal with what he has done to me ... but I had a very hard time to forgive him for causing abortions and neglecting the kids to the point where they would exhibit clear damage. I couldn't accept that he is harming people that depend on him and can't defend themselves. I guess fairness is pretty high on my value list. For that I couldn't forgive him ... At the time when I stopped doing anything around the house and I would even stay away from the kids trying to make them get used to not having me around so much as I was thinking of leaving ... he really stepped in and took care of them ... that kind of helped ... now he is still making efforts so it's much easier for me to forgive him.

Now to think of what to forgive means to me ... when I felt that I cannot forgive him I was actually feeling angry at him, obsessively repeating in my head ... "how can he do this" ... it wasn't that I didn't understand "how" (how? easy, being extremely selfish, self-centred, not able to feel real empathy or sympathy, just mostly physical pleasure and those highs of acting out - mostly those highs were in fact related to the fear and anxiety of being caught) ... what I couldn't accept was that he is different from me, that he experiences things differently, that he feels differently ... no matter how hard you try to "explain" to yourself ... you cannot possibly "understand" because to a certain degree that would mean to really be able to put yourself in his shoes and experience life the way he does ... And also, "how can he do this" assumes he has a choice. And this could be a huge debate ... did he have a choice or not? Most of us do the right thing because of our conscience ... what our values are and how well we forged our identity on them ... even so we fail at times and we let our negative emotions get the best of us. But of course, for the healthy it's mostly in trivial matters that we fail to live up to our expectations. I don't know ... for me a person like your ex is deficient ... either he was born like this or something happened to him ... but he is deficient ... saying he is a "monster" or did "monstrous" things you just attach pejorative connotations to the fact that clearly he is not defined by what we think of as "humanity", that being basically the ability to care for others and show empathy.

Moreover, you talk about shock and grief ... no revenge ... in my book (and in Mrs. Jones') you already forgave him ... just that you are still emotionally affected by the events, which is more than normal and I guess that time will heal as you will go on and on in your mind over these things until one day there is nothing else that you thought of over and over for thousands of times, there is nothing new there for you ... and you will let go ... So maybe for you "to forgive" is somewhat synonymous to "moving on", they will happen at the same time, not successively. You don't have to wait to feel forgiveness in order to move on. You will move on and that will make you eventually come to terms with what happened ... And again, the terms to "forgive" sounds too much like granting him something, like feeling empathy and compassion towards him. I don't think that's the case. It's something for you, something you feel you need to do in order to heal and let go. So, again, it's ultimately about moving on ... and it won't happen until the shock doesn't subside ... until you will be ready ...

My heart goes with you as you suffer the greatest trauma I can possibly imagine for a human being. Sincerely I can't really imagine myself acting "human" in your shoes. I think I would have felt I'm entitled to let my "monstrous" side deal with it. You are really going the extra mile in being human.

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 5:08 am 
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Ladies, thank-you so much for the thought and compassion you are putting into this. It really helps me to know that other people have as much trouble getting their heads around it as I do. It is affirming and makes me feel much less crazy.

I really want to get a handle on this. I feel it will help me move forward. Dear Ursula, thank-you for your thoughtful reflections. I know that I have not forgiven him. There is some level, perhaps incomplete, of acceptance. Insofaras, I accept that what has happened, has happened. I'm no longer trying to bargain with the universe to change the past even though there is sadness and grief in giving that up.

When the first disclosures were made, before I knew what I know now, he did seem very contrite and expressed what appeared to be a genuine willingness to atone and make reparations. Of course, there was so much more to find out, so much that was withheld that, in practical terms, it was a shallow atonement but I don't think he has the insight into that.

At the time, I felt able to forgive him. In those days, the majority of his (admitted) crimes were against me. I felt hurt and traumatised but able to forgive.

Since the disclosures of last year, he's shown no signs at all of genuine atonement. Even though I think it would have been helpful to me (and likely a necessary precondition for his own recovery), I am prepared and happy to move on without any expectation of any attempts from him to atone. In all honesty, I doubt if he has any realistic picture of what atonement might look like and would be afraid of the issues around it. I think he believes he can "move on" without it and frankly, I'm not invested enough in him to care any more, over and above having concern for those people/children he will likely go on to harm.

I do have a surprising level of acceptance but no, when I look inside, I have not forgiven him. It bothers me because it speaks to my view of my own humanity.

I had a dream where I watched him catch fire and burn. In the dream, I looked around for a way to put the fire out but when I couldn't see anything, I became surprisingly unconcerned... and even more interested in the amazing and colourful display of the flames. Is this about me? Am I lacking in compassion?

I know it was only a dream but I think it reflects something that is going on with me; that I am becoming harder, more dispassionate, at least against him. Am I merely being defensive? Fortifying myself against the pain I feel? This is not forgiveness perhaps but maybe more, a hardening. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I don't want to delude myself.

I believe that any path through this needs me to be ruthlessly honest. I want healthyness, wholeness. I want to be a support for my children and grandchildren. I believe the only gift I can give to my lost daughter, is to support her siblings and for all of us to come through the other side in the best possible way. I do not want to be lost in pain, or to compensate by being hard.

To be honest, I can't even formulate a picture of what forgiveness in this situation might look like for me.


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 8:25 am 
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Hmm, this is a tough one to crack. I think it's beyond my somewhat limited spectrum of experienced emotions ... I kept thinking about what I wrote earlier ... I might have been a bit too harsh ... even if I did say to him that I would kill him and at that time I really meant it ... would I do it? Firstly, what I did learn is never say never. I'm full of surprises but aren't we all? Secondly, I do not know myself so well as to make such threats or promises.

RN teaches us about sexual addiction, the mechanism behind the actions. And the mechanism is the same even though the object of addiction changes permanently ... The exterior forms it takes seems just accidental somehow. The compulsion and irrationality, lack of empathy, treating humans as objects, those are the essence. I've experienced a bit of compulsion myself towards love affairs. It is a very dark and powerful force, you feel powerless indeed and I wipes out anything else. Luckily I managed to avoid it all my life by keeping away but the fear was deep inside there ... knowing I'm capable of things that I cannot forgive myself for ... and that scares me so I shut myself in the house, away from temptations and so I managed not to let my demons out... it's a very dark place to be ... So at some level I can personally relate ...

Maybe you should define what being human means to you as this seems to be the value you are trying to protect and reinforce by forgiving. Our species (even some in the animal kingdom) tends to put the children first, even before ourselves. It is one of the strongest human values, something we hold to be holly (not necessarily in the religious terms) even for those of us that are not parents. Crimes against children make our blood boil because it is something that we value and we perceive as defining us as humans. Consequently, crimes against children are inhuman. When I wrote earlier that I might be capable of monstrous deeds myself ... I was indeed protecting my sense of humanity, even in a very uncompassionate way ... it's complicated ... and very deep and very confusing as it stands exactly at the core of who we are and what we are capable of. Therefore I do understand what you are saying, how deep it is and how much you need to understand ... what you want is ultimately to understand who you truly are and if possible to become even a "better" version of yourself ... whatever that means to you ... I deeply respect that and I know you will find your answers and your path sooner or later.

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 9:58 am 
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Quote:
knowing I'm capable of things that I cannot forgive myself for ... and that scares me so I shut myself in the house, away from temptations and so I managed not to let my demons out...


Yes! This is part of it, right there. Because you knew that some of the things you were capable of doing were so monstrous that you were prepared to do whatever it took so that you didn't do them. Because, no matter how imperfect we are, there were some lines that you simply would not cross. But he... just shrugged his shoulders and said "I guess that's just the kind of guy I am".

I do understand that being human involves imperfection, mistakes, bad decisions and we all do wrong things. But to repeatedly harm other people and have no feelings other than fear of discovery?


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 11:21 am 
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You have been on my heart all morning.

andromache wrote:
Quote:
knowing I'm capable of things that I cannot forgive myself for ... and that scares me so I shut myself in the house, away from temptations and so I managed not to let my demons out...


Yes! This is part of it, right there. Because you knew that some of the things you were capable of doing were so monstrous that you were prepared to do whatever it took so that you didn't do them. Because, no matter how imperfect we are, there were some lines that you simply would not cross. But he... just shrugged his shoulders and said "I guess that's just the kind of guy I am".

I do understand that being human involves imperfection, mistakes, bad decisions and we all do wrong things. But to repeatedly harm other people and have no feelings other than fear of discovery?


The thing that comes to mind when I read this is that he has never known anything different than to act on his impulses. He may have had periods where he refrained, but at some point the tension between his stress and what he was driven to do became too much. And his assumption is that everyone else lives the same way. In his mind other people make different choices because "that's the kind of people they are" or "they don't have the impulses that he does." NOT because they are prepared to do whatever it takes not to cross those lines. He assumes that other people just don't ever want to do terrible things, or they do those terrible things and hide it better than he does. His fear was fear of discovery because he thought that what makes a person a bad person is being caught doing the bad things, not doing the things to begin with. It's probably a lesson he learned as a child, that as long as you don't get caught, it didn't actually happen. If he learned it in a traumatic way, then it's possible that giving up that reality would have meant acknowledging something traumatic about himself.
This does NOT excuse his behavior. As an adult he had the responsibility to live in reality, to not hurt other people, to do whatever it took not to do those things. But it's possible that he was never taught about those options. It's possible that he learned early on that adults do whatever they feel like doing, and hide it. As long as the adult doesn't get caught, as long as what they project to the public is socially acceptable, their secret behaviors don't count. So the answer to "why didn't he avoid this at all costs" could be that he didn't know it was an option to avoid it.

Edit: after writing that I wanted to clarify that none of this excuses ANYTHING. I don't think you owe him anything even if this is exactly what happened. It doesn't release him for his responsibility or make him deserve your compassion, empathy, or forgiveness. This is just offering a possible option as an answer for the "why".


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 12:29 pm 
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Aaaah Mrs Jones, I do think your insights are correct and I think it is an important piece of the puzzle. It certainly aligns with what I know of him. It fits with things he has said about himself.

It is also consistent with everything I've observed about his family. They are very much in denial. Very inconsistent and paradoxical in their values and behaviours. There is a lack of empathy, no respect for boundaries and an observable hypocrisy in their behaviour and espoused philosophies. I'm sure he was raised in that context.

I can see him as a little child, his needs unmet, his feelings disrespected, his boundaries ignored. I can see that the philosophies he was taught are very deficient, confusing, at variance with what was happening and generally inadequate to dealing with life. I think it must have been hard for him to make sense of the world and that the answers he came up with that seemed to protect him at the time actually set him up on a trajectory to disaster.

I know in one of my conversations with the family counselor, she asked me some questions that I sensed were feeling out whether I'd countenance the possibility that the reason he courted me so persistently all those years ago might have been a cold blooded decision on his part to target me because I was a single mother with two daughters. She was delicate in the questions she asked but I could see the implications.

I think that even though he was only twenty-two at that time, based on the secret life he already had (voyeuring, prostitutes, some hidden criminal history), it is entirely possible. Considerable damage had already been done and covered up before I met him.

My eldest son divulged some time ago that he could see his father has targeted his current partner on the basis of her vulnerability and naivety. I have never met her but she wrote me a few emails and I could see that he had lied to her and that she has bulimia and self-harming practices that make her very fragile and needy.

He is a predator, I have no doubt. He has spent the last few years since the first dday learning how to be a better deceiver. One of the things she wrote in her email to me was how she had never met anyone like him before; how he listened, really listened and invited her to divulge all her innermost thoughts and deepest secrets to him.

I recognise this as a strategy he uses to find out all he needs to know in order to manipulate people. It has the effect of mimicking the illusion of instant intimacy. Once he knows your deepest beliefs and fears, he uses it to fashion himself into the person he works out that you need to see. He comes across as your ideal partner, no matter who you are. All his attention is focused on you. That is his investment. This is his strategy for survival. This is what his childhood taught him. It is cold. It is clinical. It is a set of tactical moves designed to fulfill and prioritises his needs above everyone else's. I guess this is the adult you can get if the baby's need are consistently denied.

His lack of morality still bothers me, though. There are people who've had far worse childhoods than his, whose internal battles are every bit as horrendous, who still look around and question whether they have the right to inflict such extreme pain on other people. I'm sure he can feel pain himself but he seems to have a limited (if any) ability to extrapolate the pain of others from his own experience of hurt.

I have to think about what it means. I'm going to spend some time chewing on this. Ladies, please feel free to add any other thoughts. It is very helpful to me. I cannot adequately express the comfort and insights I'm getting from your thoughtful responses. Thank-you.


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 1:43 pm 
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His lack of morality should absolutely bother you! I think if you get to a point where it doesn't bother you any more you will have lost something that makes you a healthy, functioning human being!
As far as other people making different choices, I'm not sure that the choices of other people are worth considering. It's a trivial example in comparison, but I think about my battle with weight loss. I am currently in the process of losing weight. At one point my BMI was 40, which is on the edge of morbidly obese. I remember having a conversation with someone at one point where I described why I was the weight that I was and why I had not yet addressed it in spite of the huge cultural pressure to. Included in the reasons were injuries, new babies, the overwhelming battle to save my marriage, my mental health struggles, and extreme financial difficulties. I remember stopping at one point in the conversation and mentioning all the "success stories" that are out there. People who have battled overwhelming odds to lose extreme amounts of weight and keep it off. The problem was, no one who had succeeded was the same as me. They all had different tools, different motivations, different obstacles, different support systems, different choices, different battles. They weren't me.
Now the clear HUGE difference in this is that my weight is not destroying the life of another person. I don't have the same responsibility to people around me to maintain my weight at a certain point that a SA has to those around him to NOT destroy their lives. But I think that the point is probably still the same. There is a reason - whether its in his personality, his education, the people he came across, when his behavior was uncovered (or not), the freak moments where someone for whatever reason chose to come clean and ask for help - where he chose not to. There's probably a lot of reasons that other people have stopped the run away train and he didn't. You could probably dig and dig and dig and only find a tiny portion of them. Only a healthy him would be able to come up with even close to most of them. So I would say, if this is part of your process, indulge in it. But don't get too caught up in the specifics because you might be looking for answers that you could never have access to.
I have so much respect for you. For the process that you're going through, and the courage that you face these questions with. You are truly amazing and I hope you know that with all your heart.


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 2:30 pm 
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This is an incredibly helpful conversation, friends. What forgiveness is, how it feels, how to accomplish it - these are all very difficult questions that seem simple, when we are talking about minor violations, but compound when the offenses become more grievous. I, too, reached the forgiveness lesson too soon the first time through the workshop. I just wasn't ready to accept that my husband could do what he did and still be my husband (past, present, or future), even though I wanted the peace that acceptance could bring. I emphasize, as the others have, that you are dealing with a much more intense, prolonged, grievous collection of violations than I am, so I share these feelings with humility.

I read once about the distinction between the choice of forgiveness versus the feeling of forgiveness. I choose (and in many way, Andromache, it sounds like you choose) forgiveness. I do not want to cloud my life and my future with anger and grief over something someone else did; I want my life back, so I want forgiveness. I was disappointed, however, when choosing forgiveness wasn't the emotional anesthetic I had hoped for. My choice to forgive did not produce the feelings of forgiveness I longed for, or release me from the pain and sorrow of my husband's violations.

As some point, I experienced great relief when I decided that I could choose forgiveness and still be mad (sometimes). I could choose forgiveness and still hurt (sometimes). Choosing forgiveness was like any other moral choice - I weigh my feelings in the choice to do it, but I do not do it because of how I feel. Nothing in the world is ever going to make you feel OK with your children being mistreated. Nothing. Forgiveness is not about giving you the "feeling" that it is or was OK. Those violations will never be OK. I think forgiveness is about accepting that it happened (which you are doing), accepting that it was out of your control (which I think may be part of your struggle), accepting that it hurts and that it is OK that it still hurts - that you may never think about your ex, or the things that happened, without feeling the hurt. I think many times, anger is the mask that hurt wears. It hurts so badly, that we switch from hurt to anger, so that we can push the feelings away from us and on to the other person. Your hurt is so large - it could easily feed an outrage.

Your ex is not repentant, so you are only going to hear things from him that fuel your anger and hurt - that build the "monster" case. Because he is still leashed to his skewed worldview. Even if he someday found help and choose to change that worldview, he would still never be able to recount and amend for all the grievous violations of your family, your self, and even the obtuse, hurtful things he has said about the violations, since discovery. If you base your forgiveness in any way on him, you won't give it. He doesn't deserve it, he can't deserve it - there is nothing in the world he could ever do to make up for what he's done and said. The fact that you are seeking to accept or forgive him is not about him at all; it is all about and for you. So, ridiculous as it sounds, you may be best to leave him out of it.

Nellie James recommends "How Can I Forgive you" often. I think it would have a lot of dead ends for you, when I think of how grievously your husband violated your family, but her option to choose "acceptance," instead of seeking "forgiveness" may be helpful to you.

Another possibility to depersonalize the forgiveness process for you, is to consider some of the world's greatest villains - people who did nothing to you personally, but who we culturally accept as "unforgivable" violators. If you can work through the process of forgiveness for someone the world considers a monster, perhaps you can trace a path through that shows the way through for your personal grief.

A mound of suggestions, more than you need, I'm sure - because I feel so deeply for you and the noble struggle you are undertaking, to let go of the anger and fear and embrace your future. My thoughts are with you,
thebagholder


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 3:27 pm 
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Yes Bagholder, I think you are right. Although I choose to be open to forgiveness, I don't feel it. I know that the things he has done will never be okay. I don't feel a need to excuse his behaviour. I have no contact with him anymore and don't envisage him ever being present in my life as a factor in my forgiveness.

I read the lesson and see some value in humanising him. I thought perhaps it would help me on the path to forgiveness. But I also agree with you. This is about me and what kind of a human being I see myself as and want to be, moving forward.

I feel that demonising him objectifies him in a similar way to the way he objectifies others. I do not want to do that. I do not want to be that person. He is a human being, even though a very damaged one and while I cannot support his behaviour, I need to move away from reducing him to a stereotype of "just a monster".

In the lesson, it is suggested that one avenue may be to ...
Quote:
have made the decision to forgive your partner

Quote:
it only means that you have come to see your partner's behavior in the context of being a human being,

And it adds that
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But if you can find it in your heart to forgive, and are able to do so completely, then it is in your best interest to do so.


In my heart, I believe this is true and while I accept that I cannot arbitrarily decide to forgive him, and voila! It is accomplished. But if it is possible, I so badly want to promote this goal in myself.

I don't want to love him again. I don't even want to like him. I don't need to excuse his behaviour and I accept I will never fully understand it. I thought perhaps, when I read the lesson, the key to it might be to get enough insight to propel me forward enough to get beyond my tendency to reduce him to this stereotype, this monster.

I cannot fully grasp how seamlessly he came into our lives and how completely he carried off the charade of being a devoted husband and father. I feel body numbing horror when I think of the things he was doing behind my back while smiling lovingly to my face. I so quickly fall back into a space of demonising him.

Oh yes, dear Bagholder. You are so very, very right. This is about me and I do not want to be in this place.


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 4:37 pm 
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I don't have time, unfortunately, to read all the replies. I read some.

Andromache this quote jumped out at me
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I had a dream where I watched him catch fire and burn. In the dream, I looked around for a way to put the fire out but when I couldn't see anything, I became surprisingly unconcerned... and even more interested in the amazing and colourful display of the flames. Is this about me? Am I lacking in compassion?


Is that about you or about watching him all these years and realizing you truly had no way of putting out the fire he set on himself?

When my first husband and I were going through divorce, I had this haunting dream where he and I were in this dark place with pits of tar on fire. I was trying to make my way out of this dark place and kept asking him to come with me and he acted like he couldn't hear me. I kept on making my way out, until I got to what looked like the edge of this place and I realized around my ankle was a chain and realized to get out, I would have to get him to come with me or cut the chain. I called out and he refused to come, still not able to hear me. Suddenly in my dream, I had a sword and knew I had to cut the chain to save myself. I remember feeling this overwhelming sense that I had to get out of there. I cut the chain and woke up as I walked out of the dark place on fire, leaving him there to burn in the dark. That dream always felt cathartic to me. Maybe this dream of yours has something to tell you about the situation, rather than yourself.

Re: forgiveness. My stepfather sexually and physically abused me and was later diagnosed as a sociopath with no empathy. It took me years just to let go of the hurt, anger, resentment, rage even. I didn't like the idea that there was someone on this planet that maybe I couldn't forgive. Did that make me unhealthy, a bad person? I grappled with all of that for a long time. Something I came to was to focus on letting go rather than on forgiveness. Now years later, I have to think 'am I still hurt, angry, enraged...etc.' over what my stepfather did to me? And the answer is no, I'm not. But Andromache, I honestly never had a defining moment of "Ahhhh, I forgive him." Never happened. Letting go was a better focus for me and I offer that to you as maybe a next step. I can honestly say I no longer hate him like I did for many years. I really feel neutral with my stepfather, but I also haven't laid eyes on him in over 25 years. That helped me.

To me, you sound like you are really doing this in a healthy way, facing what's happened in your life, loving yourself through all the processes you are going through. When I struggle through something, I often go back to the visual of the butterfly struggling to get out of the cocoon. If someone sees the struggle, feels compassion for the struggling, developing butterfly and cuts the cocoon open to free it, the butterfly's wings will be weak and underdeveloped. But if you allow the butterfly to struggle as it frees itself from the cocoon, it will be strong and fly once free. I see you in that sort of struggle and just want you to feel encouraged to continue grappling with the hard questions like this. I and many would probably love to give you the perfect answer, to set you free from your struggle, but it will be your own awareness as you struggle through this, learning from others, learning from yourself, that will give you strength. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5QH3bGF4uU

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"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.


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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 4:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:36 pm
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Quote:
But if it is possible, I so badly want to promote this goal in myself.

Just saw this. :ex: Maybe look at forgiveness as a process rather than a goal. To use an analogy, maybe like taking a trip. The destination is your goal but if all you focus on is your destination and not the journey, you will likely trip and fall. Pay more attention to the journey and you will get to the destination. What opportunities do you have in the process of considering forgiveness? What insights have you gained in grappling with the question? How are you healing just considering forgiveness and what it means to you?

_________________

"What day is it,?" asked Pooh.
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.


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