I dated a co-worker who recently admitted he had another relationship. He made it sound like he had sex with this other woman because I got mad at him. I realized that he wasn’t taking responsibility for his actions. Yesterday, I prayed all the way to work, but at lunch I saw him sitting by himself and got angry. I wanted to tell his girlfriend that he cheated on her with me. I wanted to tell his wife that he cheated on her, because he did. I know this is wrong, so I did nothing. I have friends I can call when I am angry. They keep me from doing anything stupid, but I can’t seem to separate anger and hurt. Was I with him because I was lonely? Am I angry because he was with someone else? I can’t trust myself. I can’t trust my own judgment. I repeat the Lord’s Prayer like a mantra to keep myself sane. How do I deal with this situation?
Prayer is not incantation; do not expect it to erase memory or alleviate emotions. Rote repetition of a prayer simply numbs our consciousness of the prayer’s actual power. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, is a compact guide for spiritual development. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that his religion could be summed up in the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer: Our Father. Those two words serve as a reminder that, regardless of religion—or lack thereof—we are one human family.
But perhaps the line most pertinent to your situation is this: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” You have been betrayed by someone who is adept at betrayal: you. This painful realization contributes to the insecurity that you now feel. (“I can’t trust myself. I can’t trust my own judgment.”) When you discovered that this man cheated on his wife, what compelled you to think it would be different with you? More importantly, can you admit to yourself that you knew, intuitively, he was cheating on you before he actually said so? When was the moment that the awareness of his betrayal arose in you and you chose to tuck it away? That’s when you decided that he was more valuable to you than anything else, including yourself.
Now you must forgive yourself for placing him on a pedestal and engaging in behaviors that contributed to your betrayal. Then you can forgive him for the ways that he harms others and himself. After that, try this prayer: “Thank you for my relationship with (his name here), for its end and for all I am learning about myself through this experience. Amen.”
I find myself dreading Thanksgiving. What advice do you have for those of us who are stuck between two relatives that do not get along? My grandmother dislikes my aunt. My uncle hates my sister-in-law.
When your grandmother begins to detail your aunt’s perceived faults, do not defend your aunt or correct your grandmother. Listen until you feel “full” and unable to remain silent. Then say: “Grandma, I am so sorry that you and my aunt are in this situation. I want you to know that I love you both.” Your grandmother (or your aunt, uncle or sister-in-law) may attempt to coerce you to take sides. Do not buy into their drama. Say: “You are both important to me. I love both of you.” Then change the subject or leave the room, but do not allow yourself to be manipulated. Stay focused on love and freedom.