This post is Part 6 of a 6-week series celebrating the release of my upcoming book Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts.
Each week I’ve shared an excerpt from the manuscript, along with one of the book’s endorsements.
When a partner talks about her need—or want—to forgive while still in the early stages after discovery and disclosure, it’s a sure sign she’d prefer to bypass painful feelings of loss, grief, and anger. And when it comes to boundary work, anger is a necessary and vital part of a partner’s healing journey.
Can partners forgive after betrayal? Absolutely. But it’s not something you can will yourself to do or force to happen before it’s time.
“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.”
Forgiveness is a delicate topic that creates confusion, pain, and even guilt for partners who’ve been betrayed and traumatized by the addict in their life.
Partners sometimes deeply desire to forgive, but get frustrated with themselves because they can’t do it. This kind of inner turmoil and conflict can slow down a partner’s healing process because she’s not allowing her emotions to flow freely—including anger.
Forgiveness is a process. It’s not something you can make happen. Forgiveness is very organic, and like all organic processes you can’t force it to happen.
Imagine a tiny seed buried in soil where you can’t see it yet. You’re not sure it’s there, but little by little it’s preparing to sprout. When the small seedling sprouts, it will be a fragile, tender stalk. This is a time when you might put protection around it to give it a chance to get stronger before exposing it to the natural elements like wind and rain. When it’s in this tender state, you wouldn’t stand there telling it to “Grow!” or asking “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you bigger and stronger yet?” Growth and resilience happen in their own time. It’s the same with forgiveness.
Be gentle with yourself and trust that when it’s time to forgive, it will happen naturally and spontaneously with no effort on your part.
The quality of our self-care (including boundary work) and the way it improves our well-being overall can have a powerful impact on our capacity for forgiveness.
“When you are happy you can forgive a great deal.”
Special Praise for Moving Beyond Betrayal
Vicki Tidwell Palmer guides the reader through a practical and thorough journey to healing. Encouraging partners to move from an exclusive focus on the trauma of infidelity to the possibility of forgiveness, Moving Beyond Betrayal is a welcome and much needed contribution to the self-help literature for the rapidly growing ranks of partners of sex addicts.”
Very soon, I’ll be announcing special bonuses available only for pre-orders of Moving Beyond Betrayal before the release date on May 24 (recently updated from May 17). Want to get on the list to receive notices of bonuses, programs for partners, and more? Sign up here.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2016)
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