T Nation

I cannot forgive ... should I ? Can I ?

Hi Gang. I will try to keep this short and put only relevant details.
PRIMER. Been with girlfriend for 18 months. She had a drinking problem. Got verbally abusive each time she drank - she qualified for Narcissic Personality Disorder when in that alcohol influenced state (doubting Thomases, go see Sam Vankin’s site for real detailed info) . Whatever she did/said in that time was forgotten each time (she did not recall anything). First time I should have dumped her right there, but being a (stupid) gentleman I gave her a chance, thought she would wake up one day. Never woke up. Until I got angry. Dumped her. Had to. Did not feel anything for her anymore. THEN reality got in her skull, she cried for a week, and stopped drinking. She has been the most considerate (read human) person ever since. It has been 3 months. PROBLEM. Even though she has changed and has been flawless in her conduct, emotionnally, I am still as dead as ever. I CANNOT FORGIVE. Either what she did, how she said it, and my being stupid enough for not respecting myself and letting her use words and guilt (‘what about our months together, doesn’t that weigh in?’ I hear her saying) to keep me during those months. Now, she’s flawless, she wants my feelings to go back to where they were. Yeah Right. The way I see it, she bought here on ticket on this one. I cannot see her as anything but a mistress. She does not deserve emotions from me after what she did. She kicked it out all of me, and now she cries about the result. Deal with it is the only thing I can say. So here I am. She has changed (actions). I cannot say anything on her new conduct. I know I will never forgive what I saw. QUESTIONS… can it come back? And how does it? I am all for hope, patience, and similar stuff, but man, is there such a thing as irreversible damage and thing that cannot go unpunished? My first reflex is to tell her to forget everything, move on with her life, that I cannot guarantee anything back. She loves me. I don’t love her anymore. Normal. Can it get better? Just feel like I have been mind raped. Only thing I long for is revenge. Eye for an eye, Wallace style. That is not T-Manly. Where do you draw the line? Can you love back somebody who did in you, even though that person repented? I don’t want to fool anybody on the time necessary for my ‘recovery’. Being in unknown territory, I do not have the foggiest idea of the process, time and things to come. Advice, anyone? Thank you in advance!

Move on and tell her to also. She will be battling those demons for the rest of her life. Your feels are okay. They are your feeling and they are real to you. It is not about forgiving. This girl has a major burden to carry. Are you ready to help her carry it? If she was handicapped in some other way and you felt this way would you be willing to shoudler that load? These are all questions you have to ask yourself.
As wiseman once told me, “You will have enough burdens to carry in this life time. Try not to pick-up anyone else’s.” Best of Luck.

I say give the girl a chance. You’ve been together for a long time, and that means something. Don’t be an asshole. She had a drinking problem, and if you loved her in the first place you would have helped her drop it (my apologies if this was the case). You also should have warned her you’d dump her (again, if you have done this, my apologies). Get back together with her, forgive and forget. REMEMBER: she was drunk, and most people become idiots when drunk. Give it some time before you choose to lock her out. Now, fairness and consideration out of the way, if she ever gets drunk in front of your eyes again, dump her on the spot and change your phone number.

A wise man once told me that history repeats itself. Well he wasn’t exactly wise, but he was right. Every time I dumped my X, she would completely “change” and promise that the change was permanent. But as soon as she had regained my trust, (or so she thought) history would repeat itself all over again. I finally realized that the sooner I got her out of my life, the better. While this may not be the same thing as your situation, history does repeat itself, and permanent change is far more unlikely than you think. Some women can be very deceptive when trying to get what they want. Besides, you can’t change the way you feel about her. Do you really want to? Or are you looking for a reason to get her out of your life? From the sound of it, there are plenty. Oh yeah, Older Lifter gave some great advice as well.

Dump the bitch…This has clearly been doomed from the start. I wouldn’t count on the drinking cessation to last.

Yes you should forgive her. It will only hurt you if you don't. But forgiving her doesn't mean you got to keep her.

Honestly, if you are honestly detached from her and she was a girlfriend, not a wife, then move on. Issues like that dont get resolved that quick anyway. But…if you “really” unconditionally loved her…boy that makes it hard.

I’d hit it…no seriously I would. GreasyGreek “Stealing Peoples’ Ideas Since Deuce Triple O” (first and last time I swear)

Well, what did she say exactly? Was it really that bad, or just the fact that she acted like an ass?

I realize I’m outnumbered here, but here’s a quote for you: “If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again. Then quit; no use being a damn fool about it”

Stick with it, and if you see her slipping back into alcohol, dump her. You don’t really have anything to lose.

The thing to remember is that the first thing people lose with alcohol is thier inhibitions. Whatever she said, she thought it when sober. The alcohol just allowed her to say it. If she’s had a drinking problem, then that’s something she’ll be fighting for the rest of her life. You can either help her through it, or just not deal with it (or her) at all.

I am in a very similar situation - not in the details of it but in the fact that someone hurt me and I can’t seem to get over it. Society often tells us to “Forgive and Forget” and the wonderful “Let Go and Let God” and a lot of similar things but for the life of me, I can’t. Because of this societal presssure/influence, I felt like less of a person for being unable to do it. While I would say I’ve done the forgiving part, I am dead inside toward this person. Some people seem to be able to “Forgive and Forget” despite the incredibly hurtful things done to them. I’ve come to the conclusion I am not one of those people. I’ve tried everything I could to deal with my emotions and allow that person’s changed behaviour to matter to me but I’m done with the trying - if the emotions come back then they do, if they don’t then I’m done with torturing myself over it. Fuck it. You know what? THAT’S OK. Realizing and accepting that about myself is a very freeing thing. Every (wo)man needs to recognize (her)his limitations and that is one of mine.

You need to figure out for yourself if you are one of those people that can blithely move on past pain or if you are not. Realize it. Accept it. Deal with it. That is who you are and no one can tell you it is “wrong” or that you are “less” of a person for it. No one can tell you how long is the “right” amount of time to process your feelings. Be honest with yourself (and the girl) that you may NEVER process away the pain. AND THAT’S OK. Just don’t let the pain of that relationship stop you from enjoying the remainder of your life. Recognize it, accept it, put it in it’s proper place and perspective in your life and then go live your life.

Easier said than done, I very much realize. Good luck.

Wow! Thanks a lot everybody! Currently processing all your threads. A question comes to my mind: Is it possible that the weak ask for forgiveness to the strong just to prevent the pain and responsibility of learning their lesson (and keeping the status quo alive for their own agenda and sake)? I wonder…because the most precious lessons in my life came from things that could not be negociated with (reality, the Iron weights, accidents, hard headed self-respecting people, etc). I had to learn. No exceptions. No excuses. A more paranoid way of saying things would be that abusers ask you forgiveness to allow them to restart again…hey, if you kick them out for good, they can’t abuse you…and if you are dumb enough to open the door, well, you’re the one who’s worse off…because you are feeding the monster (and preventing him from cure (change) because it has it’s way and that’s the only thing it cares about - like a parasite)… Self sufficient, just, independent (people, thoughts) only receive positive confirmations of reality for strength…the inverse cannot be said for the weak(ness)…just wondering…

Let me just add to your post that the emotional response should be in proportion to whatever the person has done. For example, I have a friend whose brother is a junkie, and has basically been a worthless person for his entire life. My friend says that she is emotionally ‘dead’ towards him, and I have no problems with that. On the other hand, when her daughter started screwing around (as most teenage girls do), she said that she was becoming more and more deadened to her as well. This didn’t strike me as a balanced response, in that the level of suffering on my friend’s part did not correspond with the amount of emotional detachment that she used to compensate. You may wish to consult with a counsellor or a psychologist to get additional perspective on whether or not you excessively personalized her actions.

Oh, and one more thought: There’s something called counter-transference… this girl may have been acting the way she did so as to elicit this very response from you (and thereby you vocalize her unconscious feelings that she is unlovable, etc). If that is the case, then without psychological help, she will probably continue this pattern.

Absolutely! The level of emotional detachment should be roughly commensurate with the level of pain inflicted.

The only issue then is that the person doing the wronging may refuse to accept the level of pain their actions have caused and think that the person wronged is overreacting. Then where are you? Who is to say that action “A” ought to produce level “5” of pain? One person may react to “A” differently than another. Does that negate and invalidate the feelings of the person who responds to “A” with level “9” of pain, or the one who responds with a level “2”?

It’s a difficult thing, this relationship business…

That’s why I suggest discussing the specifics of the problems with a trained advisor/counsellor that deals with interpersonal issues. The two people involved will be too close to the issue to make sense of it on their own.

You are in a difficult position, no doubt about it. From what I could understand is first, she loves you, second, you hate her. Right? She hurt you while she was, well, not her. She doesn’t remember. She just loves you. But you do remember and you quite naturally want some satisfaction, vengeance. But against whom? Her? Or her-her? You can only take vengeance upon someone who knows what he did to you. It’s pretty pointless to kick, stab and shoot a brick that happened to have fallen onto your head from some old building. Sure, you’re pissed off, but hey, what can you do? I’m gonna tell you what you can do. You can only blame her for getting drunk, since that seems to be the trigger for her disease. If you say she has a drinking problem, she will keep it. Sooner or later, she will get drunk again, problems arise in every relationship - even without such a disease and/or a drinking problem. Well, when problems would arise with you, she would drink, hurt you again, and you probably won’t be a very happy man.

As much as I would like to say that you should forgive her for what she (in that state) did to you, since it is a result of a disease, I can not. Specially since you say you don’t love her any more. Even if you did love her, and even if you did forgive her, you still would have to live with the creepy feeling that deep inside, she REMEMBERS. And you would fear the future, since her alcohol problem cannot just evaporate. Don’t live in fear and hate, go, find someone else.

My message (even if it is late) is to say ‘sorry, you’re time has come and gone…’. You need to move on and so does she. You have learned more about yourself and the world.

If she has changed this may further ‘cement’ that change. She made certain decisions and has to face the consequences of those decisions. One of those seems to have been alcohol was more important than other things. She may have changed and then maybe not. What is known is that she ‘burned’ your relationship and she has to own her responsibility for that.

I honestly doubt she has changed that quickly. Usually change of that nature comes from some extremely catastrophic event; no offense, but breaking up with a boyfriend really does not seem to fit. I believe it is a ploy to get her to a point where she can say to herself “see, I am not the problem or the issue.” Doing that she can exonerate herself and her actions by pointing out how you don’t change, how you do this all the time, how you say this all the time, how you whatever…just so she doesn’t have to accept responsibility for herself…

Just my two cents…


It seems to me that “forgiveness” and deciding whether to stay with her are two separate issues. You should forgive her because she obviously has a condition and that’s really not her fault, and she’s making the efforts. However, if emotionally you can’t get involved, and you simply don’t love her any more, then that should be the deciding factor for whether you want to stay together.

what ever you decide to do it would be good for you or someone else to take her to an A.A. meeting.