Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

I don’t want to go into details other than to say I’m conflicted. My former husband was selfish and abusive. He complicated my life in so many ways that to this day, five years after the divorce, I’m still struggling financially and emotionally.

Between the church and my friends, I feel pressured to forgive him, yet I can’t seem to do it.

Any thoughts?

…PO’d in Puerto Vallarta

Dear PO’d,

You’re conflicted because we live in an era in which concepts are distorted, guilt is dolloped on sensible people like gravy on grandma’s mashed potatoes and conventional wisdom is considered lunacy. Meanwhile, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram feeds attempt to solve all the world’s problems in five-second intervals.

Let me set you straight. Forgiveness isn’t an event tied up in a neat little package with a bow. It’s a process — often a messy one that may take a long time.

Before reaching a place of forgiveness, you need to acknowledge and validate your anger, hurt and/or disappointment. Once you feel you’re ready, here’s what I know for sure:

Forgiveness is for YOU. It’s about freeing yourself from anger. Letting the offender off the hook isn’t the priority.

Forgiveness is about moving forward in peace. When you forgive someone, you relinquish your right to punish them.

Forgiveness isn’t amnesia. You can forgive someone yet still hold them accountable.

Forgiveness doesn’t make you a doormat. You can forgive someone while setting boundaries and/or refusing to allow them back into your life.

Forgiveness is a personal choice, not a moral obligation. While we should all do our best, it may not be necessary or possible in each and every situation. That’s okay.

If you’re a believer, pray about forgiving. If you’re a nonbeliever, make sure your decision to forgive aligns with your moral values and needs.

Given that the offender is the father of your children, I hope you can find a way to forgive and make the wisest, most child-centered decisions possible from now on.

Yours truly,


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