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Annette Powers

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Letting Go of the Need to Forgive

Posted: 10/03/2012 1:35 pm

The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur always gives me the opportunity to reflect and think about those I may have wronged in the past year and those who may have wronged me. Last year at this time, I was consumed with thoughts about my ex-husband and his girlfriend. So many people told me that I must forgive them for their affair in order to truly move on. I tried my best to forgive, only to find myself backpedaling a month later. I just wasn't ready.

But, this year, things are different. No, I haven't forgiven them yet, but I just don't care as much. I am no longer fixated on whether I should, can or want to forgive. Sure, forgiveness could potentially "set me free," but thinking too much about forgiveness was imprisoning me in its own way. As I obsessed over how to forgive, I spent hours thinking about how much I had been wronged. It wasn't helping me move forward at all.

And they certainly weren't waiting on my forgiveness. Their relationship moved along regardless of my opinion. So I decided to stop thinking so much about it and concentrate instead on more positive pursuits -- being a good mother, friend and employee and keeping busy with my personal interests and hobbies.

Today, I also focus more on gratitude. While my marriage didn't turn out how I thought it would, I have much to appreciate. First of all is my son. I'm so grateful that he is a happy, healthy and well-adjusted child. I'm grateful for my family, who are like friends, and my friends, who are like family. I'm grateful for my home, my job and the food on my table. I'm grateful for the six happy years I spent with my husband before things changed. I am grateful that he is still a loving and supportive father and that we have a highly functional co-parenting relationship. I'm even grateful to her, because she doesn't interfere with our parenting.

And I'm grateful for time. Two years since our separation, I can make it through a day, sometimes even a week, without crying. Maybe forgiveness is a little overrated. Perhaps the trick is to stop trying so hard -- to stay focused on the gifts of the present rather than the sorrows of the past.

 

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