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Forgiveness and Forgetting: Trying to Move On

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I left my abuser April 15th, 2016. After a little more than a week of him frantically trying to get me back I convinced him to give me exactly one month of absolutely no communication. By the end of the month I was ready to talk to him (over the phone). After talking to him and listening to him explain all the things he did to change and work on himself (alcohol played a major role in his abuse) I decided to open up communication between us again so that I could see if he really did change but I also needed to know if I could look at him without feeling all the pain he caused me. The first time that I let him see me face to face I didn't recognize him. He had lost 30 pounds, he was sober, he was clean shaved, he was dressed maturely, and literately 99% of his mannerisms were completely different than I had ever seen from him. He sounded different, he smelt different, he walked differently, his eyes even looked different. I didn't have to worry about having "flashbacks" because it 100% felt like I was with a different man. We started really slow; just talking and occasionally seeing each other in public places. I was fully in control of how fast we progressed. 

It didn't take long for me to start falling for him again (or really it felt like I was falling in love with someone completely new). I eventually realized that I did have what I call "triggers" (things that cause me to be flooded with emotions from the past and sometimes result in some version of a panic attack) but he was really good about getting me to communicate these things to him and helping me work through them. All I had to do was tell him when something was a trigger and he would stop and we would have a conversation about it. 

Then, about two weeks ago I moved back in with him. Now i'm sitting here feeling the way I have found myself feeling many times in the last few weeks. I can't tell if the communication and changes he has made are fading or if it just feels that way because i'm realizing that it is a lot harder to forgive and forget when you start trying to go back to a version of daily life under the same roof. He is still sober and therefore we have been able to have a level of communication that we never used to have before, however, emotions between us seem to be high a lot because he desperately wants me to start trusting him and giving him the benefit of the doubt more and I have really been struggling to do that. The allusion of him being a completely different person is gone. Not saying that he is back to the kind of person that would abuse me again, but that underneath all his actions/behaviors (good or bad) he is still technically the same person. In that sense, I can no longer ignore the fact that I need to be able to forgive in order to truly move on. When I let myself just see him as a completely different person, I didn't have to worry about forgiving him because this new person never hurt me. Now I suppose maybe I am seeing things more clearly and I feel that I am sabotaging the new relationship that we built by not knowing how to forgive him. 

Everything was so good when I felt like there was no risk; I was in control and we were just seeing if it could work. Now things are serious again and I can't stop thinking about all the painful things he has done to me in the past. I think about those painful times and then I find myself analyzing everything he does and says with a negative lens. Sometimes it feels like the only way I could possibly forgive him for good is if I was able to forget everything he did.

I've never had to forgive anyone for hurting me as much as he has. I want to forgive him, I really do, I just don't know how. I know that I should probably go to counseling for this but if anyone has any advice on forgiving someone (without feeling like I am dismissing his actions for less than they were) I would be so appreciative.  

Also please note that I have not chosen to give this marriage another chance without serious thought and contemplation. I decided during my time alone that as long as he could prove that he had changed, I owed it to myself and my belief system to give it my full effort. That is why I want to forgive him so badly; I do believe that he has changed and wants to be the man I always thought he could be, but in order to accept this new man as permanent truth I need to be able to fully forgive him. 

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"underneath all his actions/behaviors (good or bad) he is still technically the same person."

Could that be why you can't forgive? Or could it be that you see that he really hasn't changed?

"emotions between us seem to be high a lot because he desperately wants me to start trusting him and giving him the benefit of the doubt more "

Perhaps he will only be nice until he has you back. That certainly seems the typical pattern. Maybe he wants to stop having to try so hard.


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