Acceptance is first step to forgiveness

Dear JAJ,

I discovered my husband and a young woman that is the secretary at his place of business has been having a year long affair behind my back. This same woman that I have frequently been around when bringing my husband lunch or just stopping by to say hello who always had a nice conversation with me and met me with a smile has been with my husband. I can’t stop thinking about it, there is a burning festering hole in my heart that eats at me every day. She has caused so much damage to my family and I actually hate her for it. I need to find peace and forgiveness but I don’t know where to start?

Love, Raging Mad

Dear Raging Mad,

I am so sorry that this has happened to you. From your letter Raging Mad I noticed that your anger is directly on the young woman, you said “she has caused so much damage to my family and I actually hate her for it.” While your feelings are very understandable you have to also understand that this woman alone couldn’t have an affair without your husband. What that young woman has done is not justified by any means but your husband is the greater offender here. That young woman took a job, your husband took a vow.

How did you react to your husband? Do you think that your rage is set upon the other woman because she is the safer victim here? Because to be mad at her Raging would be easier than confronting the problem inside your own family and home. This rage that you have inside of you will destroy you if you let it. There are many steps to forgiveness just like there is in grieving. Grieving is what you are doing, you have lost trust, lost the image of the man you thought you loved, lost your perfect family, and now you are on shaky grounds wondering where your normal life has gone. You will be mad, numb, sad, and happy. Sometimes in a whole 24 hour period, a terrible thing happened to you and that is normal to feel that way. You know when people go on a diet? It would be silly for someone to say “I’m never going to eat another burger for the rest of my life” that’s to much to ask at first, someone is surely to fail if they set their goals too high to reach. This is how forgiveness feels right now to you and that’s why you can’t do it. So let’s start with acceptance, Raging.

Accept that you are hurt, accept that you have been betrayed, accept the man you love has been unfaithful to you and disrespected you, accept that this is not something you will heal from in the near future, accept that this experience has taught you something you didn’t want to know. Forgiveness in a way is saying “okay this happened and now it’s done and I’m fine” but you aren’t there yet and that’s okay! But peace and forgiveness means that the nightmare is over and I know you so badly want that but it is still to fresh and painful to be put away just yet. Acceptance is only telling yourself that you embrace what’s true. And then what you decide to do after you have truly accepted these things will bring you your peace and forgiveness.

Love, JAJ

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