The (Forgiveness) Struggle is Real

I recently posted something on the Hausfrau facebook page about why I'm in absolutely no rush to be friendly with my ex husband and his wife. No, I don't think they are either but it's a topic I like to revisit regularly in order to temper the maddening social media trend of glorifying BFF co-parents.

*read this next paragraph in the same tone of the voice-over in a pharmaceutical commercial, where they say you might experience dry mouth, rectal discomfort and/or grow scales as side effects of the drug* 

Yes, blissful co-parenting situations exist and yes, many people are truly blessed to have a very friendly relationship with their ex. When that happens? Yay! Celebrate! It's working for you! How wonderful for the kids!

But as I have said, ad nauseam, that is not possible nor is it healthy for all. My gosh sometimes I feel like that might have to be etched on my tombstone. Along with "hey it's not as hot down here as I expected it to be" 😂

So in that above-mentioned post, I detailed one of the many reasons why I don't feel comfortable with the idea of weaving friendship bracelets with the ex, which is a pretty substantial one: that time he lied about reconciling in order to get me sterilized. Let's be real, friends. Allowing someone to go under the knife in order to ensure there aren't any "loose ends" before you officially leave is pretty shitty, even for him. I prefer to take the high road when I can but as far as that incident is concerned, nope.

Anyway. Someone in the comment section dropped a quote about forgiveness. The one about setting a prisoner free and discovering it was you. Trust me when I say there isn't a forgiveness quote I haven't heard over the past several years. And they aren't without merit, okay?

Forgiveness is a very personal, and very touchy subject. For whatever reason, when I read that platitude, I felt bristly. I know, I know! A touched nerve, perhaps?

Perhaps. But it got me thinking about forgiveness and friendship and past hurts and just plain old pasts. It had me mulling over this mission of mine, to help other women who are going through the same old bullshit that I did all those years ago. And it made me wonder...

What if forgiveness is fluid? What if it's not a still pond, but instead it's a sea that's always churning and moving? What if it's like a tide that ebbs and flows?

What if forgiveness and whether or not we feel it is a day by day thing, instead of a permanent state?

A few years ago, right in this very spot, I wrote about forgiveness and I basically said it's something we HAVE to do. Quote: "The only person I think you truly NEED to forgive is your ex."  

Forgive me.

This blog is almost a decade old and there are a lot of things I wrote that now make me cringe. I described someone as a "a Latino Mike Meyers", you guys. Some of what I wrote back then was how I felt back then. Some of it was so bad I'm embarrassed to go back and read it. But people (and blogs!) evolve over time. We learn, we grow, we experience new things and see the old ones through hopefully wiser eyes.

I used to be a Republican, too. So there's that.

My stance on a lot of things has changed, and forgiveness is one of those. I don't believe it's something we should ever feel obligated to do, and I really don't believe anyone has the right to tell you that it's necessary.

I mean yeah, okay. Your friend backs out of plans at the last minute. In that case, we will probably forgive and forget. Because that's your homie! You love them, they love you and shit happens.

But there's big stuff that really leaves a mark. And when those things happen, we may need time to process, to feel, to decide if forgiveness feels right. If it feels necessary.

And one other thing. Just because someone talks about their past experiences doesn't mean they're dwelling. It's perfectly normal to want to hear how others have handled difficult times and it's also perfectly normal to share how we've handled them.

Don't ever feel bad about airing your laundry, dirty or not. There will always be someone who needs to hear they aren't the only one.


  1. Patricia A DevineAugust 2, 2019 at 8:49 AM

    I like the description that maybe "forgiveness is fluid". My ex and I grew up in the same neighborhood and he had four younger sisters. When he was 16, his parents divorced over an accusation of cheating on his dad's part. When I got together with my now ex, I was amazed at how wonderful he treated his mom and his sisters. He was the epitome of the old saying that, if you want to see how a man will treat you, observe how he treats his mother or sisters. I felt safe with him. We married, had our son after five years, and then I found out he was in a relationship with someone else around the eight year mark. I don't need to describe what I went through after that. You know. But because we were friends first, we've come around to a place where I feel like we are friends again. He has told me that I'm one of his best friends. When I think of that, I think, "Aww, how sweet." Then other times, I'm like, "Hey, asshole, friends don't treat friends like that!" I have mixed feelings between it's over, move on, and that bastard blew up our lives. When I see him traveling all over, having parties all the time, and just generally living a really good life, I get so angry. I want to forgive - for myself - but I honestly don't think I ever will completely.

    1. That's pretty cool that you can remain friendly, Patricia! I am not there with mine, probably never will be. But I'm in the same mixed feelings boat with you! Some days the injustice demands to be acknowledged. It certainly doesn't sting like it used to, so I guess that's progress.

  2. Forgiveness doesn't mean you can be friends with that person or even allow them in your life. To me it means, "yeah dude did something horrid, but i'm not going to dwell on it." So to me it's more of letting go of the anger and hurt. But that doesn't mean we will be friends or even talk. It means I'm done being angry about past hurts and I am moving on. More of indifference

    1. I agree! But it's weird for me, how I can be indifferent like, 99% of the time and then some hurt/anger sneaks outta nowhere. It makes me wonder if true forgiveness will ever happen.

  3. Well if it was not for the Republican crack I would have been really loving this post.

    I am a huge fan on feeling like it is more abuse heaped on our heads by well meaning friends, family and the church to "forgive" the abuser who cheated, lied, financially stripped me and my children, injured me and then smeared my good name.

    I have adopted the feeling that letting go is all I am able to do right now. I just decided that Letting go and Letting God take care of his fate and judgments are OK with me so I am able to turn my back on him and live my best life possible and recover from the trauma of a 20 year marriage. I am 4 years out from divorce and just now trying to reinvent myself. 4 years was needed to steady my children and recover from Medical issues. I feel like I have a long way to go still but I know he is long gone from my heart and head, just letting go finally. Forgiven, not so much.

    1. Eh- more of an example of how we change over time, less of a crack. Although if you've read my blog for a while you know I'm a bleeding heart liberal, LOL. I have a lot of friends who are Republican, and a dad! So it's not meant as snark.

      I'm happy to hear that you're in a good place, Sunny! And I hope the medical stuff is taken care of ♥

    2. I get it, I meant it lighter than it came out sorry. I lost a friend over how I voted and I was shocked because I am really live and let live about everyone is entitled to their views, guess I am a bit touchy now on being judged.

      Yes he injured my ribs when he realized it was really over. They are dangerous when they lose control. After the divorce (months after) I had two surgeries for Cancer removal. The Bill and recovery were not easy for me and my two high school aged children. I was a SAHM for 20 years. So I am proud of myself for being able to let go as much as I have. I still have the anger/hurt that sneaks up on me like mentioned above, but less and less as time goes by.

      By the way his idea of helping me with the illness was to cancel my kids health insurance as soon as possible. I was blessed to find a job that provided that so I did not go to court, but still my kids got the message too. Let go and let God.... LOL

    3. Virtual hug (()) I'm so sorry for what you went through, but overjoyed that you've moved onward and upward. It's so important for our kids to see us get through the hard stuff.

      You're a warrior, Sunny!

  4. You are so right about evolving. I have also been blogging for almost a decade and I cringe at the crap I wrote in 2010. And most of 2011.

    I have an ex-husband and I was the one who asked for the divorce, so I didn't think I needed to forgive him for anything because I felt like I was the one who needed to be forgiven. IT WAS A MESS. But forgiveness is a tricky thing and no one can tell you when it will be over or how appropriate the time it takes to forgive is. Everyone is different.

    But thank you for airing YOUR dirty laundry and keep doing it. Feeling less alone is healing to many, including me. :)

    1. HAHA oh man. 2010 was when I started this thing and honestly it's too embarrassing to look back at most of it.

      Forgiveness really is tricky. And I feel like many of us struggle extra hard when it's wrapped up with the end of a relationship, no matter how that relationship ended.

      Thank you for being here!!!

  5. I hope you meet the man of your dreams who treats you like a queen and then you also win the lotto and live your best life. You rock.

    Forgiveness is hard. I was raped years ago by a guy I knew and have struggled to forgive him. I have now decided I never will unless he magically grew a spine and a conscience and acknowledged what he did, gave me some money for all my therapy, and asked for forgiveness. Sucks I have no proof so can’t say anything and we have mutual friends who think he is above guy. Ugh. Some stuff just remains this bitter pill we deal with but never really dissolves.

    1. Oh anonymous- you don’t have to forgive him, you know? Is he still around you? Like do you actually run into him socially?? That sucks. And it’s really despicable that your word isn’t proof enough.

      I am loving the bitter pill that doesn’t dissolve analogy. What a great description.

      I’m so sorry you were hurt. I will hope for something non-lethal to strike that a-hole. Maybe persistent hemorrhoids.

  6. Forgiveness IS fluid, and in my opinion has nothing to do with the person you’re forgiving, but yourself. I was abandoned at 19, pregnant and with a 2-year-old. Shit got real pretty damn fast.

    Around the 15-20 year post-abandonment mark, I was able to look back and KIND OF understand (not agree with) what he did and why; honestly, looking back, he actually SAVED me from a miserable existence, though clearly that wasn’t apparent at the time.

    After an incredibly sincere and humble apology, I was able to forgive him for what he did, and boy howdy did I feel like a (literal) new person afterwards. I felt free! But, there are some random moments where I’ll just be enveloped in anger for the amount of shit young me had to deal with.

    Note: It took me well over a DECADE to forgive, and I don’t know that I’d have been able to without the sincere (and humble) apology.

    Every single person is different, every circumstance; I’ve wanted parents of murder victims forgive the killer— that’s some next level Christianity — because that’s what felt right for them. I’m sure they struggle with that forgiveness sometimes when the magnitude of their loss is overwhelming.

    The point I’m taking my time getting to is that, as you said, no one is OBLIGATED to forgive anyone, but, in my opinion, if you decided to forgive “Big Daddy” �� it’s about you and not him. You can forgive some of the things and not others. You can choose to forgive and still be angry, still not mind if he were to fall face-first in a giant mud puddle in his expensive loafers and what aim sure are douche-tastic chinos. You’re not obligated to tell anyone if you forgive him for 3 months and change your mind for 3 years. Forgiveness is about YOU, not him.

    And, side note... I also had to learn to forgive myself. That was almost harder in a lot of ways (therapy helped). You’re not the same person you were 20 or 10 or even 5 years ago. Change is an inevitable part of life - as Rafiki in Lion King said, “The past can hurt, but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.”

    1. Hot damn! Lots of truth in your comment, my friend.

      Coincidentally- I’m returning to therapy. So many freaking issues to hammer out with someone who knows wtf they’re doing! I’m scared because it means facing some of my own skeletons but it feels like it needs to be done.

      I love you Amanda ♥

  7. Excellent post as always, Jenny. While in principle I'm a fan of forgiveness, and in some cases it's been good for me to practice...there are times where I honestly think it's overrated. When someone is as thoroughly shitty to people they're supposed to love, like your loser ex was to you and the kids...that person doesn't deserve your forgiveness and you are under no obligation whatsoever to provide it. IF you forgive him, it has to come in its own way and time...IF it's appropriate. Hell, within the past few years I've had a couple of long-term friends act shittily to me and another good friend, and while their behavior was nowhere near as gross and disgusting as your ex's to you -- it was bad enough that I'm nowhere near ready to forgive them.

  8. I have actually been thinking a lot about your post since I saw it on fb. Forgiveness is a really hard thing - especially when you see the same type of behavior happening over and over without any remorse or regret. And it’s not like I can walk away as I have three kids with the guy. He still is the Disneyland dad who walks in thinking he is the hero where I am behind the scenes doing 95% of the work.

    His entire life he has been really good at giving people the perception of himself he wants people to have and he is really good at it. I am not sure anyone really knows him. He has twisted things and lied to the point where the event that actually occurred and his version are two completely different stories. There were multiple affairs (after two I realized it didn’t matter how many more, i realized I didn’t need to know). But the continued lying and things put on my kids is what gets to me.

    I truly believe in forgiveness, and agree it is really hard (especially without remorse or apology). But I really like the statement Amanda said when it is “fluid”. I believe it is a choice to forgive someone every single day - especially when you are constantly having to deal with crazy behavior. My goal is to get to the point where I don’t feel anything toward him either way. But I am a work in progress.

    And I don’t downplay the life altering effects HIS choices have left on your life. When I look at my own life, my kids and those people around me who have walked through hard stuff, the mark that is left is one that is real. But I choose to believe there will come a better season and there will be beauty that comes from all of my ashes.

    I am sorry you have had to walk through this.

    Hugs to you. ❤️

    1. This 👌
      You could be writing my life story. I call him Teflon (nothing sticks) so slippery smooth and narcissistic in their belief of "their version of events" that it is impossible to find a way to forgive because they won't acknowledge or admit what was done. Leaving me with a rock if anger in the pit of my stomach so big and nowhere to release it.

  9. I’m bemused when people say, they are good friends with their ex. If my ex was someone I could have been good friends with after we divorced, I’d still be married. Sure, we keep it civil because kids, but now that the kids are older I have zero contact with my ex. And there was no infidelity involved in our breakup. But I don’t think he has forgiven me for being the first to throw in the towel on a relationship without communication, affection, respect, and intimacy. It’s sad in a way to have someone I spent 16 years with become a nonentity in my life. They say that the opposite of love isn’t hate or anger, it’s indifference. Forgiveness is not a prerequisite for indifference.

  10. I Love you for saying "I used to be a Republican, too!" :-) But I can see why it would be extremely hard for you to be friends with your ex since he basically abandoned you & the kids to start a new family - not helping financially or any other way for that matter. He's a shit. And that's a fact. But, you, Jenny. You are tough as nails, girl. You did what you had to do to raise those kids, keep a roof over your heads & food on your table. Your kids will forever remember & love you all the more for that. They'll also remember their "dad" abandoned them. I pray that one day you're going to meet a real gem & he will treat you like a Princess! Because if anyone deserves some "Easy Street" it's you, girl!

  11. Whenever the topic of forgiveness arises, I like to share a thing a therapist once said to me because it really settled things in for me. YMMV, of course.

    Forgiving a person can be like forgiving a debt. It means you stop trying to collect what you expected to collect and write it off as a bad debt. You don't extend credit ever again. The person has shown you that s/he is a bad risk. You don't have a way in your accounting system to accept payment later because you already claimed it on your tax return as a write off. It is done, all contracts null and void, in the past, never to be repeated with that person.

    This analogy really worked for me. I don't have to condone anything the person did (or does) and I get to stop actively wasting energy on holding the person responsible. Yet,I am still empowered to apply past and current and future behaviors to all decision making about that person in the future.

    When I think of forgiveness this way, it sets me free and lets me be strong, too. Maybe someone out there will be as helped by it as I was. I hope so. 💚

  12. "Allowing someone to go under the knife in order to ensure there aren't any 'loose ends' before you officially leave is pretty shitty."

    He what?! Hell no.

    Forgiveness is overrate. If you operationalize forgiveness as letting go of anger for your inner zen or whatever, then fine. Can we give it a different name?

    Too often forgiveness is equated with making nice and some people don't deserve nice, even if it is a mask for your inner asshole.

    Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote about forgiveness and what it looks like. For me, it was this:

    "You prefer to remain outside the milieu. You are not waiting for anything. You are nothing wanting anything. There is no lariat snare around your ankle stretching from way back there to here. You are free to go." (pp. 372-373).

  13. Your ex is such an evil fucker. That whole thing about the sterilizing you - evil on its own. But all the other stuff he did and financial stuff. Omg. He and his whore are just total evil fuckers. No happy family portrait with their two new cute kiddos can spackle that evil away. Your poor kids must feel totally replaced too. Ugh. Awful awful.

  14. Hi Jenny, I have a very hard time with forgiveness; I never forget a betrayal.

    On a lighter note: have you seen the country music video "Another Sober Saturday Night"? I think the girl in it looks so much like you :)


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