My husband left me for my best friend almost 15 years ago and everyone says I should be over it. That’s easy to say but not thinking about someone when they have betrayed you is hard. I read your blogs and I know that I have to forgive him but I don’t want to. I want to be mad. I think he deserves it. But I’m worried that’s not the right thing spiritually.
I hope it helps you to learn that this is very common. It’s very human. It really is. Lots of people feel that way. They look at their life and there’s nothing really wrong with now, it’s just that there’s this thing that’s lurking in the past. And we’re worried it’s going to happen again. And that loss of innocence makes us angry, because the experience has made us hypersensitive to anything suspicious. The only problem is: almost anything can look suspicious if that’s the eye we’re looking at it with.
So how can we help? Let’s start with noting that you’re talking about a psychological place as though it’s where you live, and yet in reality; you’re ignoring reality. The angry thoughts you think about your spouse today, will cause you to have a present-moment chemical reaction that feels like anger. Anger exists for us to deal with fight or flight emergencies. Yet today, for you, there is no immediate threat—there is only the story you’re telling yourself. So that story, not your husband, is really your issue.
Reality does not happen outside of you. There is no ‘objective reality.’ We each see the world differently because our experiences have trained us to have different sets of filters on our eyes and other senses. So there is no way to reconcile and align everyone’s realities. We can only surrender to the knowledge that all any of us will ever see is whatever we are imagining at any given moment.
It doesn’t matter what happens outside of us. What matters is what we think we’re supposed to do with what’s happening inside of us. Right now you think that thing is ‘blame.’ But your issue isn’t that this thing happened. Every life has horrible experiences a person could choose to remember. Your issue is that you keep choosing to remember the same set of events over, and over, and over for a decade and a half.
By focusing on that past issue, you’re forgoing the growth you could be doing. Had the issue been ignored and the growth attained, then; relatively speaking, the growth acts to shrink the total amount of your lifetime that ends up being spent on that negative issue. Instead, by thinking about it for so long, you’ve actually expanded its size, which is why it feels so oppressive. But that can change.
This isn’t 15 years ago. It’s important to remember, this is daily for you. Your resentments, your fears, your thoughts, considerations, ruminations and opinions are where you spend your day. That is the chemical structure of where you’re choosing to live. So you want to forgive your ex-husband for one simple reason: he doesn’t even know you’re hating him. And meanwhile, you’re surrendering your life to hating while he’s out living his life.
This is a crazy addiction and it’s time you broke it. You’re like a person who drinks poison in the hopes that their enemy will die. It doesn’t work that way. Start by listening to people who you know love you. So if your family or friends are trying to get you to go out, go! These people love you. Why would you assume time with them would be anything other than nurturing and caring?
In general, have more fun. Take the energy you used to put into remembering this event, or being afraid of that event, and instead use that same energy to do something fun or exciting or rewarding. Live. This is a short trip we have here. You don’t want to sit still wasting it by spinning thoughts about some long-past time.
The past is the past. It does not dictate the future any more than a wake pushes a ship. If you spend a lot of time talking about or thinking about days gone by, then you are spending today reliving yesterday. It’s your choice, but when you feel death coming I can assure you that you will be wanting more time for life. And you will wonder why you chose to squander so much of it on thoroughly pointless and painful activities like remembering only the painful parts of your past.
You are a free person. You can take your thoughts in any direction you choose. So don’t keep habitually choosing the same directions out of blind habit. Become conscious. Think actively. Use your thinking to create the world where you want to live. It’ll never be perfect. But that’s what’s so perfect about it–there’s always something interesting to work on.
Stop being a habit and start being alive. Disengage from old thinking. Change your thoughts, change your life. There’s a lot of living that needs to be done and we need you to climb aboard your own life and sail it into uncharted waters. It’s time to start investing your days with your awareness raised, which will in turn help you realize much more joy and wonder out of this grand adventure that is life.
If we have eyes like a child, we can easily turn the smallest thing into the greatest experience. Life is fantastic. Stop reliving old ugly parts of it and start having a true adventure. We’re waiting for you. I’ll see you out there. 😉
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.