Why Anger Is so Damn Easy and Forgiveness Is so Damn Hard

Jessica Lynn

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The worst part about learning that someone you love has lied to you is that,

You never see that person, the one you trusted, the same way again.

The lie, or more accurately - the person who deceived - takes this from you. The person you initially fell in love with and the relationship you have with them is altered. Going forward, they are now someone different in your eyes. Your dynamic with this person is changed. You lose the person with whom you put your trust in, really, forever — it's a loss.

And humans have a pathological fear of loss and grief, which makes forgiveness so damn hard.

According to David Kessler, author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, "You don't have to experience grief, but you can only avoid it by avoiding love. Love and grief are inextricably intertwined."

What kind of life would it be if we avoided love? An empty one. Who wants that?

Most people enter into marriage with the best intentions, thinking, this is it. When a relationship ends, especially a marriage, many times it ends with a lot of pent up — or not so pent up — anger.

Anger is an easier emotion to bear than other feelings. Not easy, easier. But often, much easier to bear than grief. We humans try to avoid grief and a feeling of loss at all costs. We are much better at causing pain than feeling pain, and for forgiveness to happen, we must feel pain.

There's the rub.

Anger is much easier to feel than feeling grief and loss.

When we decide to forgive, we are admitting something is lost. Something died or changed, something we thought would never change, we have to let go of, which can be painful to admit. Especially if we didn't want the marriage to end.

For forgiveness to happen, you have to come to terms with loss; this usually requires one to go through a grieving period. In a marriage, when someone has an affair — even if you decide to work it out — there is still the death of something; 

  • loss of an idea
  • loss of a promise
  • loss of loyalty
  • loss of trust
  • loss of commitment
  • loss of a dream

Something has to die. And to forgive, we must admit this loss to ourselves.

We hold onto rage and resentment because these emotions are so much easier than the death of an idea we previously held being gone for us.

I am not going to forgive him for who he is because I don't want to grieve what I didn't get.

Most of us would rather be angry.

Grief is loss and longing for something you didn't get.

To forgive, we must be clear and accept that something we wanted — a successful long-term marriage — is gone forever.

When we forgive, we have to reconcile with ourselves that something is gone, and then our grief sets in, forcing us to feel. When things go badly with someone you love, and perhaps someone you thought you'd spend your life with, anger can remain for some time instead of accepting the loss. Accepting the loss is your key to move on with your life. Think of acceptance as a gift you give to yourself.

When you stumble upon a big lie — the bigger the lie, the worse the heartache — told by someone close to you, it is destructive and heartbreaking because you are mourning the loss of someone you thought you knew. You no longer feel close to that person or view them as the friend you thought they were, someone you believed could hold your heart and treat it carefully and be considerate of your feelings. 

They are now a stranger. A stranger you have been living with for years.

How could he lie to me? After all, that we've been through and everything we've shared. The truth would have been less painful.

You look at them in a different light for the remainder of the time you are together, whether it be five minutes, five months, or five years. The trust you've spent a lifetime building between you vanishes the moment you find out you've been deceived, and going back to loving that person in the same way, before the lie, is nearly impossible.

You have to be honest with yourself; 

Things have changed, your relationship is not what it was or what you thought it would be. You have to grieve the loss.

Or,

hold onto anger and rage and lash out, which is exhausting in an entirely different way — easier, not easy.

When I found out about my husband's affair, it altered my perspective of the world. The world I lived in, before the lie, vanished in an instant because the way I perceived the person I trusted the most changed irrevocably. This may be naïve or demanding, but I do not expect the people in my life to lie to me. That is not something I am willing to accept. The person who I thought would always have my back changed.

The relationship dies. You move on, as does he.

For a while, you feel empty and ashamed that you gave him your confidence, and he carelessly walked all over it.

The sting of being lied to by someone I thought I knew creeps up on me from time to time, but after much grieving and forgiveness, I have hope I will muster up the courage to trust again. But in order to forgive, you need to be kind to yourself, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu says about forgiveness,

"To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: The depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.
However, when I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator. If you can find it in yourself to forgive, then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator. You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person, too."

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Writing on all things California and Texas. It unfolds here. Your daily dose of local news. From politics to food, from celebrity culture to current events. Follow me for the latest updates. Twitter: @girl_thriving

Los Angeles, CA
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