Do I Have to Forget the Past to Move Forward?

“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” -Thomas Szasz

I have a client whose husband cheated on her…repeatedly.

Every time life got difficult (as life often does…) he ran into the arms of someone else to avoid those difficulties.

We can use another person to numb our fears and feelings as easily as we can use a pint of ice cream or a bottle of tequila.

He has apologized and swears he has changed. It won’t happen again.

But that’s it…just words that feel like empty promises. No actions. No work. Not even an acknowledgement of the pain his choices caused.

They want to tackle the issue in very different ways:

She wants to talk about it, understand it. For obvious reasons, he doesn’t.

He told her, “You just need to find a way to forget the past and move forward.”

Except that simply forgetting and blindly trusting is an impossibility.

Forgiving and trusting again? Maybe (With a greater understanding, there can be healing)

Forgetting and pretending it didn’t happen? Nah…

So if that won’t work, what WILL work to move forward?

I’ve asked her to get clear about what she needs to understand about the affairs in order to move forward.

She said she needs to be able to trust that it won’t happen again and that next time life gets hard (as it of course will…), he won’t run away. He’ll stand beside her and face the challenges with her as a team.

But in order to know that and trust in that, she has to understand why he ran away in the first place and then see some evidence that would suggest next time would be different.

From a coach’s perspective…

When there’s no acknowledgement of the pain caused by his choices and actions….

And when there’s no willingness to do what would be required to rebuild trust in the relationship…

He’s not giving her anything to work with.

He’s showing her what he’s willing and able to do…and what he’s not.

This is his best. This is what he’s offering.

Now the decision is “Does that work for her?”

The answers become easier to see when you’re willing to ask difficult questions and believe the answers you receive in return.

When we’re in confusion, it means we don’t yet have enough information to make a decision.

You know how you get more information? You ask the difficult questions and believe the answers you receive. Need help navigating that? Let’s explore if there’s a fit for us to work together.

Do I Have to Forget the Past to Move Forward?