You want to forgive your partner but he or she lied, cheated and betrayed you. No wonder you ask yourself, can I ever forgive an affair?
So let me tell you a story about Eva Kor, 81, who is s survivor of Auschwitz and the medical experiments performed by Dr Mengele but at the trial of Oskar Groning – the so called accountant of Auschwitz – she told him she forgave him and all the other Nazis.
I could not have imagined doing this 22 years ago. Back then I was a very good victim. I was angry with the world and I hated everybody. I yelled a lot. I was very unhappy.
What changed her? She met Hans Munch who was a doctor in Auschwitz and would look through a peephole in the gas chambers to check nobody was still moving and sign a death certificate. He agreed to sign an affidavit about what he witnessed.
I was very excited that I would have a document that, if ever I met a revisionist saying there were no gas chambers, I could shove that letter in their face. I was grateful and I wanted to thank him. I thought about a letter of forgiveness.
When Dr Much signed his document at Auschwitz in 1995, she felt that she was no longer a victim or Auschwitz or a prisoner of my tragic past.
So what has she learnt about forgiveness?
- “Forgiveness is an act of self-healing, self-liberation and self-empowerment. I do not need anybody’s approval or acceptance.”
- “Reconciliation takes two people, this is why it is so difficult.”
- “I also call forgiveness the best revenge against the perpetrator. And anyone can afford it. If you do not like it, you can take it back. No one can stop you.”
- “Anger is a seed for war. Forgiveness is a seed for peace.”
- “I forgave the Nazis, not because they deserve it but because I deserve it.”
I know the parallel between war crimes and relationship crimes is tenuous but I found the story inspiring and think it makes several important points.
- It takes time to heal enough to forgive. Don’t expect too much of yourself too soon.
- Forgiveness needs to be thought about and given with an open heart – not as knee jerk reaction or an attempt to get your partner back.
- Ultimately, forgiveness sets you free to love again – either your partner again or to move on and make a fresh relationship.
So can I ever forgive an affair? I would like to think YES.