Can People Ever Really Forgive And Forget?
by The Hopeful Survivor
18 months ago I had an affair. Though I considered myself happy in my marriage, for some reason at that time I felt somehow disconnected from my husband. I had several emotional issues at the time and I think I did not confide in my husband as I should have out of not wanting to appear a weakling and because of the kids.
It's funny but I ended up confiding a lot with this particular guy (who had several issues himself) and it spiralled into an affair. From the beginning, I knew it was wrong but this guy was so dominating I just could not free myself not to mention however I liked the attention he gave me.
Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? I did enjoy being with him and we both talked of our families but as soon as I'd show my guilt and doubt he'd managed either way to convince me to stay. I hated what I was doing and all the lies.
The good news is that eventually I did manage to leave but as you can imagine this was followed by threats, emails, phone calls upon phone calls, name-calling and the worst of all, he felt he could get back at me by telling our workmates about our affair. I thought we had agreed we would not hurt our families and I really did try not to hurt him in all possible ways.
As you can imagine, word did get around and I passed a whole year thinking what people were saying about me. He's a womaniser and this happened once to me because I was weak and I could not understand why people could not understand how brave I was to stop it for the ultimate benefit of all.
It seems as if people were taking energy from this sad situation and instead of seeing my ability to face my bad decision and to take responsibility for it, several people just want to see the 'bad' me. I am not bad. I went to a psychologist who told me I had made a bad decision but that I should learn to move on and that's it is important not to focus on the things that I cannot change.
I have accepted my bad decision, that I was weak at the time and I have worked on and improved in many ways by talking to my husband. In a way, the affair significantly improved my marriage.
But why cannot people just let me be? Why do they have to gossip? Everyone and I mean everyone makes mistakes. It was an ugly mistake made at a moment of weakness from which I have learnt. Why can’t people see that?
I feel tense sometimes and this occasionally results in anger outbursts...a recent one at work. I'm trying hard and I have improved a lot but I am still a bit paranoid. Why cannot people forgive and forget?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. As you point out, everyone has issues and everyone does things they later regret. The question is not whether you’ve done something you regret, the question is whether you’ve learned from it and made an attempt to improve yourself--which apparently you have.
I know your biggest question here is, “Why can’t people forgive and forget?” Good question. Basically, if anyone is taking their valuable time to focus on your actions with gossip, criticism, etc., they are basically showing you that 1) they have nothing better to do, or 2) they have their own issues they have not dealt with, and they are focusing on you instead of dealing with their own problems.
That being said, I know this hurts. It feels awful to be on the receiving end of this kind of judgment. I think your best approach at this point is to consider that this will pass, especially if you handle it well. The best way to move toward a better workplace environment is to make sure you’re not carrying any residual guilt or shame from what you did. There’s no reason to, as you’ve corrected your behavior and learned from it.
You also mentioned that sometimes you have anger outbursts at work. That will only keep the judgment against you alive, so I suggest that you use the tools on this page to understand and heal your anger.
The main thing is for you to be as happy, friendly, upbeat and productive as you possibly can at work. That way the gossip and criticism will fade away rapidly, because it just won’t “stick.” To help with this, every day before work, imagine and mentally rehearse the kind of day you want to have. Picture yourself having positive, friendly exchanges with your coworkers, no matter how hard this may be. This will really help.
Be a good friend to yourself, and use positive self-talk all day long, to keep yourself in a good mood. You can do this!
My very best to you,
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