Forgiveness is one of the 7 Stages of Divorce Grief. It’s the last stage before a person’s life can truly turn around. Here are the 7 Stages: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, Forgiveness. The first five are obvious for people going through divorce. The last two are the most positive stages and serve as the turn-around events in the process.
“Through the act of forgiveness, we cleanse ourselves of the pain and anger that kept us stuck in the past,” Dan Mager, Therapist, in an article in Psychology Today.
Forgiveness is for the one forgiving. People mistaken forgiveness as a get-out-of-jail free card that releases the other person from the responsibility of their actions. That’s not it at all. Forgiveness releases the forgiver from the shackles of intense hatred and toxic feelings about the perpetrator of a seemingly unforgivable act. These feelings can last years after the divorce is final.
You’re not done grieving until you’ve forgiven your ex-spouse.
Forgiveness isn’t a competition. It doesn’t matter who forgives the other first. It matters that forgiveness is provided as soon as possible so that the toxicity of anger is released in order for happiness to come back. True happiness can find a place to live if anger and resentment have taken up residency first.
If you’re co-parenting post divorce, I think forgiveness has to be top of your list. How can parental support be provided the children if parents hold resentment towards each other? The resentment will supersede any other emotion. It’s tentacles will eat the soul and spirit alive. Our beautiful shirts and nature will be overshadowed with resentment if forgiveness doesn’t take place.
But here’s the hardest part of forgiveness, honesty. Before the other person becomes the one and only culprit in the reason for the divorce, maybe you were wrong, too. All sorts of issues intertwine in a marriage. It’s hard to draw a straight line of responsibility sometimes. The conversation becomes, ‘If you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have done this.’ Well, that takes a lot of conversation and soul bearing to sort out the reality of the sequence of events that led to the divorce. A therapist can certainly help. At the end of all the self-reflection the willingness to be honest, forgiveness still has to take place. And once it does, the burden and weight of the anger lifts so that it can be replaced by peace, joy and love.
Whatever the issues or behavior, forgiveness is a practiced art that is a remedy that is in your control whenever you choose to use it. Forgiveness puts YOU in control of your happiness again.
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