Finding the Power to Forgive
I had dated a lot prior to meeting John but had never really met anyone that I thought I could marry. When I met John, it was obvious that things were different. The relationship began to progress quickly and I was beginning to feel pretty confident that this was the guy I wanted to marry. Things were moving steadily along until I discovered John had a pornography problem. John expressed a strong desire to overcome his addiction and progress in the relationship. I still loved him and wanted things to work out, so instead of breaking up, I decided to take things slowly, confident that he would find recovery and our relationship would work.
I wanted him to recover so badly that it made it very difficult to recognize and accept the fact that although he continually expressed a desire to recover, John was not exhibiting the type of commitment and actions necessary to actually find recovery. I finally realized that without substantial changes, John would not improve, and those changes were not happening. After breaking up, John and I continued to have contact. I still loved him and was concerned about his well-being. After speaking with a therapist, I began to realize the need to set firm boundaries, not only in terms of my interaction with John, but also in terms of communicating what I needed to tell our mutual friends who were constantly inviting us to the same parties and activities, which was difficult for me.
After the break up, I began to experience a lot of unexpected side effects—an obsession with losing weight, exercising, and trying to look perfect. I struggled with my faith in God. God knew what would happen, so why didn’t he protect or warn me sooner? I felt like I had been betrayed by someone I trusted and began to develop a distrust of men and relationships. I felt everything about my world had been shaken in ways I never could have anticipated.
Recognizing that I needed help, I attended 12-Step meetings. Working the steps and regularly reporting to a sponsor helped me to set boundaries and identify and overcome negative thought patterns and behaviors. It also helped me recognize that I had to forgive John. After breaking up, I felt a number of things John had done were very wrong and it was difficult not to feel some resentment. Forgiving John was a process and it took time. As I worked the 12-Steps, I realized that I not only needed to forgive John, but I also needed to ask John for his forgiveness. That was really difficult. I finally met with John and simply explained that I had felt resentful towards him and I needed to apologize. The relief and peace I felt was overwhelming. He didn’t apologize or express any remorse for anything he had done at the time, but I knew I had taken an important step in my own recovery.
Time has passed and we are friends. We interact comfortably in groups and have casual conversations. I am very careful to keep my boundaries in place. I still feel a sense of loss for the relationship that might have been, had the situation been different, but I am comfortable and confident that my life is going the way God wants it to go and that is enough for me.