Many of these posts talk about stopping your own victimization. Stop identifying as a victim, take the “V” off your forehead, learn that you have power to control what happens to you (to a certain extent) and that you get what you put up with.
But what about being horrifically wronged and deciding to stay and play? You may be parading around as a victim and a wronged lover or spouse, but you are using your position to torture the person who wronged you instead of trying to either figure out if you want to stay out of love and start again or leave because there is no true forgiveness.
Many times “abuser’s remorse” works because we want it to. We want this person who hurt us deeply, whether physically, mentally or emotionally, to “pay” and it seems as if he or she is. They are hurting (really seems like it!) and paying emotionally and begging and promising. We have the upper hand. That is what we want. We want the upper hand more than we want to sit back and think, “Does an apology here really cut it? Is it believable? Should I just get the hell out now?”
Couples in abusive relationships do this dance with a certain regularity. One person is holding the cards at all times. But the person who is typically abused can become a tyrant when he or she has the other on the ropes. They can become punishing and withdrawn, thinking (erroneously) that they have the upper hand and this jackhole is now going to “pay” for his or her sins.
Another one is the person whose mate has cheated. They are devastated, horrified, hurt beyond belief. How could you?? “I made a mistake, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
For many, one is too many. Sorry, you’re gone.
For others, they take a wait and see attitude. Maybe I can get past this. Maybe he or she has realized the grass is not greener. Maybe we can go to counseling. Maybe. We’ll see. Maybe I can find my way to forgiveness and we can move on. Or maybe this person is a true cheating jerk who will never be faithful and I have to get out while the getting is good. But right now I don’t know which it is and I have to postpone my decision to see how I feel. They will either elect to go or elect to stay and forgive and move on.
And then we have the torturer. The person who says they forgive. Who say they are willing to stay but spend the next years torturing the person with the infidelity (or sometimes a sin much less). It comes up all the time. It is used to manipulate, to hold power over, to keep the other person squirming. They insist on passwords, snoop around in drawers and pants pockets, wallets and phones. They never truly let it go. It’s the sword of Damocles hanging over someone’s head. And by goodness, they like it.
I always say you have three choices in a given situation: accept it, change it, or leave. Torturing is not on the list.
Bitter, angry people who are too stupid or too stubborn or too hellbent on revenge stay and torture. They think they are being a “good spouse” or keeping it together “for the children,” but their resentment and inability to let go creates a corrosive atmosphere where love and forgiveness cannot and will not exist.
One of the reasons I left my marriage was because I was becoming bitter over things I could not change and could not forgive. There were lots of infidelities and abuse and it swung between abuse and abuser’s remorse. There were laundry lists, hurled at each other, from both sides. There were recriminations and lots of loud and dramatic testimony as to why you suck and I don’t.
It’s no way to live. If someone has been unfaithful or acted in a terrible manner there ARE only 3 choices: accept it, change it, or leave. You cannot accept it or change it (via counseling) without a true measure of trying to forgive it and move on. You can’t be a bonehead about it and rush to forgive someone who is just going to ride roughshod all over you the minute you do. You have to get all the information, find out what is and has gone on and why, and see if you really have the wherewithal to see it through and let it go. Being stupid about it is not the answer, but soul searching to come up with what you are a capable of and is this person worth it is the key.
Changing it involves work for both parties Can this be saved? Who has to do what? And how much of your bananaheadedness can be cured? And what are my issues and what do I need to do about it?
We always always talk about the bad things done to us as victims of others’ behavior. But that does not give us the right to stay and torture anyone with it. To use their bad behavior as a power tool we keep by our side and bring it out whenever we want to drill someone in the head just for the fun of it because they deserve it because they did x, y and z once upon a time.