Sometimes you have to forgive the person who owes you an apology in order to move on in life

Almost everyone seeking a divorce is really looking for closure. The process often comes with a desire to put the past to rest, to escape conflict and negative feelings, and to move towards a peaceful and empowered future. Although the dissolution of the marriage represents closure in a legal sense, it’s not always a satisfying conclusion to the myriad of complicated emotions that result from officially ending a relationship.

Finding closure is particularly difficult when you feel as if there was an unresolved injustice—if you’re waiting for an apology or at least acknowledgement of your hurt and the other party’s contribution to that pain. Unfortunately, you can’t force someone to give you what you need—even if you deserve it. Sometimes, the path to a peaceful new beginning involves forgiving someone who isn’t sorry for what they’ve done.

Unresolved anger is oppressive and counterproductive to the independent life that you want to lead. Forgiveness can set you free, and you have the key to unlock that future. Consider the following to work towards forgiveness.

Acceptance

The first step is to really evaluate the power you have over the situation. You may be one hundred percent right and “objectively” owed an apology—but you simply can’t force the other person to have the courage, integrity, or self-awareness to act on that. Don’t waste your emotional energy trying to change someone or something beyond your control.

The only thing you truly have power over is yourself, and your perspective and reaction. It may seem unfair, but this part of forgiveness is internal work. You don’t have to give up being right, but you will have to let go of being acknowledged for being right if you are ready to move forward.

Accountability

About that “one hundred percent right” thing … how realistic is that estimate? Even if something isn’t your fault, there’s a good chance that somewhere along the way, your behavior may have contributed to it—even in small ways. Pointing this out isn’t meant to inspire self-loathing or a reassignment of blame, just a recognition that we’re all human. And that the perfect path isn’t always clear when you’re battling emotions.

Perhaps your accountability in the situation is something as innocent as not trusting your intuition, or not being assertive enough. While neither of those things makes you a villain or less deserving of an apology, it’s important for future growth to develop an understanding of your own role in any situation.

Compassion

Having sympathy or empathy for someone who doesn’t deserve it on the surface is a challenge, but dig deep. If nothing else, have compassion for the fact that the other party is content to live a messy life or lacks the courage to take responsibility for their misdeeds. See their weakness for what it is, instead of letting it have power over who you are.

The second part of this is to have compassion for yourself. You could torture yourself with self-pity or resentment for the rest of your life if you choose to spend it chasing an apology that is unlikely to arrive. Decide how much the apology is actually worth, and better invest that time and effort into building yourself back up instead.

Ending a relationship is complicated in a dozen different ways, and it’s easy to hold on to hurt and resentment. Sometimes, it feels good to recognize ourselves as a victim; to cloak ourselves in the grief and anger of having been wronged. Step out of the darkness by flipping the switch—by forgiving the person who isn’t sorry. And start the next chapter of your life with a sense of peace and a renewed perspective.

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