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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Based on today's show, focused on forgiveness, how can

Resolved Question:

Based on today's show, focused on forgiveness, how can anyone forgive a person that #1) doesn't care if you forgive them or not as they feel their needs are above yours #2) This person took away from you every aspect of what WAS your life, your home, your family, your career, your friends, your status, on & on #3) This person also destroyed you mentally, thereby successfully making you unable to work in order to re-build a life. #4) This person also destroyed many aspects of your children's lives. All that was done can never be fixed, no apology from him would make my tomorrow any better, other than to have my community of people realize that HE was the liar & always was and always will be. Now, I have NO life, there is no reason for me to be alive, & I hate that I am. How could my forgiving him possibly affect any part of my reality?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like you have gone through a terrible time. Is the person you are talking about related to you or maybe was your partner (boyfriend, husband). Is it possible he was abusive?

Thank you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi, thank you for helping me. Yes of course. He is my ex-husband. He walked out the door on March 3rd, 1997, & never looked back. I worked for him for 12 years, with no pay. My work life was in accounting, he is a CPA, so I could not get a job within that field. I tried to work in a different field, but emotionally I couldn't keep it together. The courts ordered us to do joint counseling twice, both times he didn't. We have never talked since. I now live on SS Disability, which is minimum since I had no earnings of my own. Basically I got nothing from the settlement after a 3 yr fight in court. I suffered from major depression and ADHD - a strong case of - since I was a young child. Both of these flourished big time and have never subsided, only worsened. blah blah blah!
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

You're welcome!

I am sorry that you have had to go through such a rough time. It sounds like you gave all of yourself to help your husband and he not only did not acknowledge what you did, he left without caring what happened to you. And now you are stuck with the consequences.

It is easy to see why you feel forgiving your ex husband is very difficult. He hurt you in a lot of ways, many of which you feel you are still paying for.

The key to forgiveness is to remember that forgiveness is for you, not for him. It is a chance for you to let go of what he did and give permission to yourself to move on. When you think about it, you still have your husband in your life. You are reminded on a daily basis of what he did to you and how you have paid the price for his choices. Forgiveness allows you to say that what he did no longer matters. It helps you let go of your anger, which anchors you to him, and says that you are freeing yourself from being tied to him.

Also, forgiveness is not saying that what your ex did was right. Many people feel that when they say they forgive, that pardons the other person from what they did. What forgiving really means is that you let go of the obligation that person has to you. You no longer want to be a part of what they did and you want to move on. That does not mean you want to be their best friend or that suddenly everything is great between you both. You still have the option of keeping that person out of your life. You also don't have to talk to them or deal with them in any way you don't want to. Forgiving is not forgetting. It's simply letting go of the power the other person holds over you through anger, self hatred and the need for revenge.

If you feel you cannot forgive, you may want to try counseling. You can find low cost/ no cost counseling at your local community mental health center. Contact your local county or state government offices for a referral or contact your local United Way. They have information about all of your local resources.

You can also help yourself by working on this at home. There are resources you can use to learn more about forgiveness and how you can work through how you feel. Here are some to help you get started:

Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-By-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope (Apa Lifetools) by Robert D. Enright

Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall

Radical Forgiveness: A Revolutionary Five-Stage Process to Heal Relationships, Let Go of Anger and Blame, Find Peace in Any Situation by Colin C. Tipping

You may also want to talk with your pastor if you attend church. Faith can help you work through your anger and move on.

It sounds like you might be ready to heal. You are asking the right questions that will help you start the journey to peace and loving yourself again.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you very much for that, but I have a "yeah, but" (More that validates my needs I suppose!) I understand all you said, and can almost agree and have honestly tried, but what hangs me up IS my reality. Every single day, I see something or hear something or am reminded of something, not directly about my past or even him, but reminders of things I don't have. Specifically, a life. I live alone and have now for all of these 14 years or more. I am not able to work. My children are now grown and living their lives with all of the evidence of coming from a dysfunctional past, making every mistake they can. They live in other states, I have no other family. Enough years have passed like this where the likelihood of any part of my todays will change. Every now & then when I am in a public situation, the differences between myself & those I see around me are as glaring to me as they are to the others. Little by little, day by day, I have lost whatever semblance of myself that may have existed years ago. I don't see where unchaining myself from him will alieve my sadness's of today. My reality really is that I no longer have a life. I am just wasting away & meanwhile, all of my financial resources are gone. Within the next couple months, I will no longer be able to support myself at all, as my savings will be zero & SSI barely gives me food, thanks to my ex. This is why I am unable to see why 'forgiveness' helps in a situation where a person's life was literally destroyed and you lost your own resources to be able to get it back on track. I do appreciate your reminding me of the community mental health experts, I may try that. And I appreciate the books. Of all the books I have read, none which you suggested, I end up with the same conclusion I have here. The times where I have seen examples of forgiveness working are times when whatever the loss is that someone had, they didn't lose THEMSELF in the process. Am I hopeless or what?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

I understand. You sound very alone. And I agree that unchaining yourself from him will not change your situation now. It may make your burden a little lighter, but it will not fix what is broken now.

You are not hopeless. You may feel down and at the end of your rope, but you are definitely not hopeless. You just need to find your way back to what you want for yourself.

In your situation, trying counseling first may be your best bet. If I were seeing you as a therapist, my main concern is that you feel you have no way to feel better. This may mean that you have given up hope, a sign of being depressed. Talking out your anger and sadness is a good first step in recovering. And therapy can help you change your thinking so you feel more positive.

Also, if you do have faith, try asking your pastor or staff for help. It's not easy putting it out there that you need others, but you are alone and having others with you can make you feel much better.

You mentioned being disabled but if it is at all possible for you, consider volunteering. I know the concept of giving more when you have nothing seems odd, but you would find that you are the one to benefit from giving. Giving of yourself has proven to lift mood, offer hope and help you find a support system that you would otherwise not have.

Also, learn more about building hope for yourself. Start with a resource like this one:

Growing Hope: Sowing the Seeds of Positive Change in Your Life and the World by Sue Patton Thoele

Just the fact that you wrote today and reached out shows that you have a lot of strength and resolve. Realizing that you need help is most of the battle. Once you reach out, you are on your way.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you