Ask Dr. Forgiveness
My ex-boyfriend no longer is my ex-boyfriend. We are back together, but I just cannot trust him. Have I truly reconciled if I cannot trust?
Being together does not necessarily mean that you are reconciled. Reconciliation includes trust, but trust is earned back inch-by-inch. Does your boyfriend show you signs that he has remorse (sadness for what he did)? Does he show repentance (saying he is sorry)? Does he engage in recompense (behaviorally trying to make up for what he did and behaviorally showing he is trustworthy)? Keep these three issues in mind (remorse, repentance, and recompense) as a way to build your trust so that you can achieve a true reconciliation.
Have I not properly embraced the forgiveness process? I ask because I cannot whole-heartedly offer forgiveness to the one who hurt me. He remains non-contrite about what he did to me.
Forgiving another need not be whole-hearted. Sometimes people have anger left over and that is not an indication that there is no forgiving that is happening. Do you wish the other well? Have you forgiven to a point? For now, that may be enough. You need not be hard on yourself.
You talk of compassion, benevolence, and love, but you say that these are not part of the **decision** to forgive. Why do you not see these as part of the decision?
The decision to forgive usually is a cognitive act rather than an expression of the heart, of one’s emotions. One usually makes a decision to forgive without necessarily feeling compassion and love because we are not yet ready to offer these when we make the cognitive decision to forgive.
I recommend that you ask yourself what is your current level of anger—on a 1 to 10 scale—for each person. Order the people from the least anger you have to the greatest anger you have. Start with the one person with whom you have the least anger. This will allow you to get a sense of the forgiveness process and to practice that process before you get to the person who hurt you the most.
If I want to forgive someone, should I consider following your 20 steps in the exact order in which you describe them?
This process model was not constructed to be a rigid model in which you have to follow the sequence in the exact order. Some of the units will be irrelevant for you and so you can skip them. Sometimes, as you are near the end of the forgiveness process, your anger re-emerges. At that point it may be best to cycle back to the earlier units to once again examine and confront your anger.