Forgiveness Stalemate – A Strategy Game for One

Chess Piece_Feature Linkshutterstock_113280505Hellloooooo new year! And hello to all those ideas of change running around in our heads telling us that this WILL be the year they’ll happen… a new start, a fresh beginning, to feel better, happier, bolder, braver.

If you’re separated or divorced, one of those ideas might be forgiveness; that essential yet elusive process that is so important to achieve so we can move on after trauma and a painful, or even life-shattering experience.

I say forgiveness is a process, because it is an ongoing journey, and it can be a loooong one, full of tricksy goblins, hidden quick-sand pits and fire-breathing dragons (Can you tell I’ve just watched The Hobbit?).

And even when you convince that frightened, hurt and angry little girl in the back of your mind that it’s ok to tackle all these demons and forgive, it’s so normal to keep finding new and unexpected, sometimes even plausible sounding reasons to sabotage your forgiveness progress.

Why do we do this?

Because it’s safe.

Because we feel entitled.

Because it’s easier to hide behind the anger.

Because it’s easier to say ‘I don’t have the life I dreamed of because THAT person over there screwed it up for me’ than to take the plunge, get out of our comfort zones and create it for ourselves.

One particularly sneaky little self-sabotaging idea is one I like to call ‘Forgiveness Stalemate’. It makes you feel like you’re damned if you do forgive and you’re damned if you don’t, and so you end up in a circle of not completely doing either, and then you get tired and frustrated, and not forgiving suddenly seems to be a much better idea. Because, after all – he deserves it, right?

The idea of the Forgiveness Stalemate is this…

If someone has hurt you, if you are angry with them, if you they have caused you to suffer and life is now difficult for you and you continue to demonstrate that, that other person has to watch that and forever live with the guilt of the pain they caused you (or if they don’t feel any guilt, they can at least be reminded of it frequently by yourself and others around them) BUT, this ends up with you leading a less than happy existence – not a desirable outcome.

So, in order to be happy, you decide to continue your daily practice of forgiveness, BUT then you start thinking ‘What happens when I do achieve it?’… And that’s when the fear kicks in…What happens if, after hours of therapy, daily meditation, countless yoga classes, looking for lessons in every painful encounter you have to have with your ex-partner, spilling your pain out in letters and burning them to release it into the skies above, whatever it is you need to do, you get there, you’ve made it… and when you finally reach one bedraggled hand over the top of the cliff-face you have just climbed, the fear is that your ex-partner will be standing at the top, and just as you start to congratulate yourself on the mammoth journey you have conquered, he will look at you and casually say….

‘See, You’re ok! I don’t know what you were so upset about. Look how happy you are now that we’re not together. I did you a favour’.

And just like that, he is released from everything he has done to you.

Suddenly you feel your hands slip, your confidence falters, you scramble to find some sort of purchase on the crumbling rock beneath your fingers, but it’s too late and you feel the air rush past your body as it falls and falls and falls, his mocking smile looking down on you until you hit rock bottom yet again.

So, your brain tells you, if you are going to end up back at the bottom of that cliff face, dirty, tired and weighed down with pain anyway, what is the point of trying?

And the answer to this?

He may be released, but so are you.

Forgiveness is about releasing the need or want for the person who hurt you to realise what they did or offer you an apology or in fact, any sort of empathy.

Forgiveness is about finding it in yourself to not need validation or acknowledgement from that person anymore.

Forgiveness is about getting to the top of that big old asshole of a cliff, pulling your butt over the crumbling rock-face and being so god damn elated you made it that it doesn’t matter that the person who hurt you is standing there. And when they utter those words…

‘See, You’re ok! I don’t know what you were so upset about. Look how happy you are now that we’re not together. I did you a favour’.

…You no longer feel the need to give them an answer or justify yourself or try to make them see how they hurt you, you are too busy getting to your feet, standing in your power and gazing out on the vast view before you, seeing the beauty you have created, the resilience you have forged, the stamina you have maintained, the opportunities before you and the love you are capable of giving, while the person who hurt you stands in the shadows unable to cast darkness upon your newly forged world ever again.

Now, I know this sounds like a fairy tale ending full of dragon slayers and magical princesses, but, no matter how many times we need to climb up that cliff face and how many times we fall down it, one day we will get to the top and no longer care what’s waiting for us up there, and that, my friends, is our very own checkmate, not with our ex-partners, but with ourselves.


NAOMI GORAHi! I’m Lift Magazine’s editor, Naomi. Together with single mums from Australia and as far away as New Zealand, Canada and the UK, we’ve created Lift to be a place where you can find hope and empowerment, and know that you’re not alone as you journey into the transformational new phase of life that is single motherhood. If you’d like to read more about my story, you can do so in my blog where I’ve been writing about my life as a single mum from Day 1.


















2 Comments on Forgiveness Stalemate – A Strategy Game for One

  1. Jhanis
    January 9, 2015 at 3:15 am (5 years ago)

    Forgiving is so hard but staying in anger and frustration makes it harder to live. Some of the hurt and anger still seeps back sometimes but slowly getting there! 🙂

      January 13, 2015 at 9:50 am (5 years ago)

      Like they say, the most rewarding path isn’t always the easiest or the quickest, hey. Thanks for your comment Jhanis xx


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