It occurred to me today that I believe there really is a difference between acceptance and forgiveness, although sometimes, I think people use the words interchangeably.
Acceptance is believing that this happened. My husband had an affair. He touched her. Kissed her. Had sex. Sexted. Had tons of “conversations” through an app. He enjoyed it all at my expense. These things happened. I accept that they happened. I grieve parts of this every day, but I know that it is true. I accept this is my reality. It is now a part of my story.
Ah, but forgiveness, to me, is a different thing. According to Rob Bell, “Forgiveness is setting someone free, and then realizing it is you.” Gulp. Yeah. That SHOULD be easy, right? We should just get in there and forgive so that we feel less pain. People will tell us that forgiveness is just a simple choice, but friends, I really don’t think so. I do think it is eventually a choice we make to let go of the need for revenge. We have to let go of our desire for our spouse to feel our pain (they can’t). They will never know what it feels like to have the person closest to them betray them in the deepest, most painful way. It means that there will come a time when we will stop hoping that the other woman loses everything, or her kids hate her, or she ends up divorced. It means we have to stop wanting to hang flyers of her naked photos up all over the neighborhood with the words “Keep Away from Neighborhood Whore” on them (ok, I admit I REALLY wanted to do this but was talked out of it in case of a law suit).
What we realize is that NOTHING will stop our pain from this, and certainly, revenge will not stop OUR pain. It will only serve to keep the violence in circulation, and there is always a “I’ll do them one better” coming back at anyone who engages in this cycle. So, at some point, we will think about or talk about forgiveness. I know I would love to say I forgive him, but I cannot do that right now. I’m not against forgiving, but I certainly don’t want people telling me there is some kind of timeline to it. It isn’t like you find out, and then a few months later, you can say you forgive him (or her), and all is well.
Forgiveness takes TIME. Like grief, it is a whole damn process. Again we have to go through a long process, and we are so tired and worn down.
What I know for sure is that I can let go of my need for revenge…mostly. But I can’t seem to get out of my head what he risked everything for, and so, I need more time. I need to believe that he is really changing and that this is not all a joke because I will not settle this time. I believe when I feel confident in that, I will begin to fully heal and maybe…maybe I can forgive (after I burn some more evidence and break some dishes. Right?)