Feeling resentment towards your ex is very typical and for some people that resentment continues for many years after the divorce. The alternative path is forgiving your ex and although that’s not easy, it comes with very real emotional and physical benefits.
My current guest, Carol Round has forgiven her ex and even prays for him but it’s not for his benefit. She believes that forgiving her ex has helped her fight breast cancer. Here’s Carol:
The first time I recognized that unforgiveness and anger only hurts you, it doesn’t hurt the other person, was nine months after my divorce.
I went for my regular mammogram and there’s no history of breast cancer in my family. They called me back for a diagnostic and the radiologist told me there was a suspicious spot. It was only 0.7 centimeters. And I said, “What do I need to do,” and he said, “Well you can wait to see if it grows or you can go have a surgeon take out that tissue and see if it is cancer.”
I went and had a lumpectomy. Long story short, I ended up getting a second lumpectomy, but it was at a different facility. It was a Cancer Treatment Centers of America, because I wasn’t happy with what the first facility suggesting for my treatment. It was basically stage zero but they wanted to treat me like somebody that had stage one or two. I had done my homework and I knew that’s not what I needed.
I went through my second lumpectomy. There were no more signs of cancer and I had no further treatment. I was pre-menopausal, but they did want me to take tamoxifen and I refused, because it had only been tested on post-menopausal women.
I went through spiritual counseling, because I had not been through counseling since the divorce. I talked about my marriage and also about the issues concerning my mom whom I loved, but she was just a perfectionist and expected my sister and I to be perfect and you can’t live like that. Then, I married a man who couldn’t be pleased.
When I would get upset while I was talking to this counselor, he would say, “Carol stop. Where are you feeling it in your body?” Do you know where I was feeling it? Right where the cancer had been, and so, he taught me how to release all of that, how to let go of the past, let go of the anger, let go of the bitterness. That was the first step on the road to giving into God, letting it go.
The counselor would have me close my eyes and just tell me to take a deep breath and just breathe out. When I was releasing all that, he said, “Just have a picture releasing all that anger and the things that you’ve held onto, that have held you back from moving forward. Just picture yourself releasing all that and then when you inhale, you’re inhaling the goodness of the Lord. You’re inhaling his”—I can’t remember exactly how he said it, but I thought about during my marriage how I would have backaches or headaches. I don’t have those anymore. If we hang onto all that stuff, it takes our body.
My husband never asked me to forgive him. I mean, he never forgave me about anything. He never asked me to forgive him or nothing.
He had had an affair and even after we worked it out and stayed together for another seven years, he never asked for my forgiveness. He never apologized and I think that was part of it. Everything was always my fault and he played that blame game. He had a heart attack when he was 46 years old. He was a smoker and one of the things the doctor told him—we were still married at the time was that he needed to quit smoking. I caught him down at the bar smoking and I said, “Don’t you want to live to see your grandchildren?” He says, “Why would I want to live to be an old man? We don’t ever have any fun.”
So it was my responsibility for us to have fun. He asked me one time, “What makes you happy,” and I didn’t even have to think. I said, “Helping others,” because that’s what it was all about. When we do for others that’s what makes us happy. And he never got it. He still doesn’t get it. He thinks money can make you happy and buying things.
I will just continue to seek the Lord and His will for my life. Having a relationship with the Lord has helped me to forgive my ex. I actually pray for him now.
The Divorce Coach Says
A common misconception about forgiveness is that the other person has to ask for it or that remorse on their part is an essential element. However, forgiveness experts will tell you that you can forgive someone without them being involved in the process. They don’t even need to know you’ve forgiven them.
Another myth about forgiveness is that it involves reconciliation and this belief can often prevent someone from forgiving another. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two completely separate actions. Nor does forgiveness mean forgetting what happened. What it does mean is that you come to accept past events and no longer feel anger or bitterness about them.
If you’re wondering why you should consider forgiving your ex, think about what they did that upsets you the most. Walk yourself through the event recalling all the details. Now notice all the physical sensations you’re experiencing … teeth clenched … neck tension … shoulder pain … increased heart beat … inability to focus. That’s what unforgiveness feels like and none of these is good for your well-being. Wouldn’t it feel great to be free from these negative reactions?
What do you believe forgiveness is? What would help you get to forgiveness?
Carol Round has been a writer her whole life and now writes the A Matter Of Faith blog where she shares inspiration thoughts for daily living. She is the author of Journaling With Jesus.