A Broken Heart
My beloved wife of 18 years recently had a serious love affair with another man that lasted well over a year. Ouch! My question to you is, what do you feel are the best practices for forgiving someone? BTW, I loved your article on "How to Have 'Pure Perception' in an Untrustworthy World." Maybe I just need to reflect on the question, "What will serve best in this situation for everyone?"
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that!!! And sorry it took me so long to write. I have been so busy of late but wanted to get back to you before Valentine’s Day. So many people have written me similar letters lately...it’s like a wave of heartbreak. You are not alone.
My experience is that something really positive always emerges from the heart when it is broken. A tender heart has unlimited “give” while a brittle or contracted heart—a heart focused on me and mine—has no choice but to break. Hopefully all of our hearts will continuously break so that we can hold the infinite suffering and beauty of our world, excluding no one.
As for forgiveness, I will share an experience. In one chapter of my life something happened to me where I felt deeply wronged. In fact, most people I knew agreed that I was wronged, which made me feel pretty “right.” One day I was on a long car ride and I was torturing myself by going over this situation again and again to the point where I just had to stop and say “enough!” I realized that my rightness held me hostage in a position of victimhood that tore me up from the inside. I knew then I had a decision to make: did I want to be right and stay a victim? Or, could I own the situation and use it to find a deeper confidence and freedom within myself? It was a tough decision because I didn’t want to give up my rightness...but I opted for peace of mind and a sense of integrity and inner confidence. In that moment, I took ownership of my life and circumstances. I would describe that choice as a fierce empowerment. In fact, in some way, my life completely changed from that moment on.
As for your spouse, people often have to do what they have to do regardless of how it affects others. Even though we make conventional agreements in marriage, life doesn’t necessarily lend itself to these kinds of contractual rules. Although those close to us usually don’t want to hurt us, people often have to explore life in various ways and sometimes they lack skillfulness. Because life doesn’t always conform to our ideas of happiness—it is rambunctious in that way—we can’t avoid the very human experience of hurt.
So you have a choice here to forgive, which is not so much for your spouse as it is for your own sanity and wellbeing in that it will change the climate of your own mind and open up all sorts of possibilities. And even better, it can bring harmony to your relationship...and most probably improve, change and enliven it if that is the direction you both want to move in.
Press on! You have my full support!!!