Forgiving someone is so hard. It can seem almost impossible—like there’s no way in hell you could ever possibly forgive someone for what they’ve done to you.
I’ve been there. I dated my ex for 7 years—5 of those being long distance. We dated throughout college while being 5 hours away from each other. Dumb, right? Looking back it’s hard not to think about how different—and probably how much better—things would have been if we had just broken up after high school. But we were madly in love. Knew we were soulmates that would be together forever. All we had to do was endure our time apart before we could finally start our lives together.
He was sweet, caring, sensitive…everything you’d expect someone who’s head over heels for you to be. I had no reason to doubt his devotion to me. Oh, how naive I was. It turns out that he cheated on me pretty much our entire relationship. Cheated. With many women. He lied to me more times than I can even start to guess. The whole thing was a lie. A sham. He had me completely fooled. How could I have been so stupid?
There was one time when I suspected he was cheating with another girl, and I even called him out on it. He of course denied it vehemently. But it was right in front of me. Idiot. He even tried to break up with me (of course for her!) but changed his mind when I freaked out. He didn’t have the balls to go through with it. Oh, how I wish I would have woken up and realized I should have let him go.
But I didn’t. I stuck by him faithfully the whole time. I stood by his hospital bed after he was in two near-fatal car accidents. And he repaid me by cheating. The first accident gave him a traumatic brain injury. From that time on, he was definitely different. He wouldn’t call when he said he would. He chose drinking and smoking over talking to me. He constantly let me down and broke my heart. But I stuck with him, because it was clearly just a phase and he would grow up after college. Idiot!
But, of course, he didn’t change when we finally lived together. He then chose drinking, smoking (which he lied about), and playing texas hold ’em at a bar almost every night over me. I’m sure he was sleeping with some tramp he met there. And I had no clue.
I broke up with him because I was terribly unhappy. I didn’t even find out about the cheating until after I left him. My wounds were deep. I was angry and hurt and livid. How, I asked myself, would I ever get over this? Therapy was step one.
So here I am, 6 years after we broke up. Happily married with a house and two giant kitties. And it was just recently that I realized I’m finally able to forgive him. It’s true that time heals. (That and a good therapist).
But I forgive him not just because so much time has passed. It turns out that he has every single cluster B personality disorder. Yep. All of them. That means he lies without feeling any remorse. He’s promiscuous. And he does whatever it takes to douse the pain he feels inside.
I’ve finally realized that while he broke my heart more times than I can count, he is truly his own victim. I can only imagine the turmoil he experiences inside, but I believe it would lead someone to do whatever they could to try and push the pain away. For him, that meant sex, drugs, and alcohol.
So at the end of the day, I feel sorry for him. He’s at the will of his inner demons and he will never escape them. But I could escape, and I did. He is the one who will suffer his entire life.
I’m not saying that his actions weren’t his fault and that he had no willpower to control them. As someone once said to me, “it explains but it does not excuse.” But knowing the shit that my own mental health issues cause me, I can understand how he wasn’t always in the drivers seat.
So now, I forgive him. And that’s something I didn’t think I would ever say.
“Forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves to get well and move on.”