photo: Andrea Rose on flickr

photo: Andrea Rose on flickr

Dear Meli,

What do you think about forgiveness? My husband died last year, in a car accident. Up until his death, I thought we had a good thing going on. Then, a few days after his death, I found out that he had been cheating on me for years. With several different woman. Then, if that wasn’t enough, he basically wrote me out of his will. So my life has turned totally upside down. It’s been really hard to get closure. My best friend says that the only way to get closure is to forgive him. But I don’t think I can. What do you think?

Frustrated with Forgiveness

Dear Frustrated,

Wow. My heart breaks for you. This is so intense. And so very sad.

When forgiveness is not happening for me, no matter how much I know it’s for the best, I turn to the works of don Miguel Ruiz and Byron Katie.

One of the Four Agreements is “ Don’t take anything personally.” It’s a very tough agreement for me. Especially when I feel harmed by someone’s actions or choices. But your husband was who he was because of his own life path. And it is that life path, and his wounding and psyche, that led him to make the choices he made.

Not you and yours.

One of THE most difficult things to deal with, emotionally, is feeling rejected. It’s an experience that goes right back to our core wounding…to that place within us where we question whether we are okay. I imagine this experience might bring up a tremendous feeling of rejection for you. Feeling like a victim is a natural, and even healthy, response to betrayal.

But I promise you that what your husband did really had nothing to do with you. That might sound crazy. And I’m not saying that your marriage didn’t have you in it, or that there was never anything you could’ve done to have had it be different. But you can’t have the past be different now. That’s for sure. You can only move forward, and do your best to not have the rest of your life become defined by this experience. Because that would be even more sad than what you’ve gone through already.

When we look deeply into life, we can see that we are truly all on our own individual paths, and we bump into one another now and then as we traverse the landscape. You’ve been bumped hard by his actions. But his actions were all because of who he was, not you. If you have the book The Four Agreements, and are open to it, I suggest you read the chapter about not taking things personally, very slowly, again and again. I have been able to understand this concept in response to some big betrayals, so I know it’s possible.

The work of Byron Katie works well with these kinds of issues. Our experience of life is shaped by the stories we tell about it. If you’re feeling terrible (other than the grief that anyone would feel in this!), then you are believing a lie.

There are endless ways to look at his situation, ways of understanding his choices, or stories to explain his behaviors. But if you are feeling terrible about it, about him, or about you, then you are believing a lie. Katie’s works has helped me, many times, to see the story I was telling, and begin to consider another truth to tell, or frame in which to hold it.

I think I would be silly to respond to this, though, without suggesting some of the obvious things you may have heard from others by now. So here are some, and forgive me if they sound trite. I think almost any reply to this could sound that way.

1. You can have closure with him (even though he’s not physically with you) through meditation, journaling and prayer. None of these are to be discounted in such a time.

2. You do not need to forgive him. You can spend the rest of your life suffering from this, over and over. But it will not affect him. It will definitely continue to affect you, though. Does he deserve taking the rest of your life from you? (Sorry if that’s harsh…I’m aware it is. But, seriously…it’s worth asking.)

3. He was doing his best. So were you. This is worth remembering. Especially when we feel shocked by someone’s actions. You may or may not know why his best looked like this, but there is sure to be an explanation or two.

4. Are you allowing yourself to be angry? Just asking, because it’s taboo for women in our society to have anger. I would think anyone would be angry in this situation. Maybe pounding a few pillows is in order?

5. Therapy is highly underrated! Consider reaching out for help if you feel you could use it.

Finally, we do have an online class that might be a perfect support for you in this time. If you feel called to it, it’s a self-paced class which includes videos of Z and I talking more about what I’ve said above, as well as some music and a guided meditation. The meditation is all about seeing more deeply into a story that is causing you suffering, and shedding the light of truth on it. This is always a healing and transformational thing. This meditation is one I came out of a sabbatical to record, because it had transformed my own life so many times! It is a Toltec Recapitulation and might be helpful.

In closing let me say this. Time will change your view. It may not change the details of what happened. And I’m not suggesting that any of my suggestions will immediately change the pain of your experience.

But I know that my deepest experiences of betrayal, or pain, have resulted in the richest opportunities for the transformation of my consciousness. The evolution of your soul is what is available here. Choose that! It will never be something you regret!

Meanwhile, know that you are in my heart, and my prayers.

Blessings and Love to you in all you do,


What is your experience with betrayal and forgiveness? Share your comments below!

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