I came across your site today and feel I received some really good tools to move forward from the guilt of my divorce. I was married for 4.5 years and fell in love with another man. I had an affair during my marriage. I disconnected from this person but was not happy. I went into a short depression and as I started to come out, I connected with him again and realized that I couldn’t live a double life anymore, and that I truly wanted to be with this man. My heart was no longer my husbands, and he wasn’t getting even a portion of me. I was honest with him, and he was hurt. He was also tired of me being so back and forth and not being able to love him. He agreed to a divorce and we dissolved the marriage 6 months ago. I am in a committed relationship now with the man I had an affair with, and I love him. From time to time, I still experience guilt from the fact that I left my husband and the fact that I am now enjoying my life while he is probably still hurting. I have a religious background/family which believes that what I did was a sin, and they are disappointed, yet still show me love. I want to be completely rid of the guilt for good. Do you have any further suggestions on how to overcome the guilt once and for all? ~Danielle in Ohio
You stated that you still experience guilt because you left him and are enjoying your life while he is hurting. The way I see it is that you had two choices to make:
1) Stay with your husband, withdraw into yourself and become depressed because you were not being true to you. You would have been resentful because you could not be you and your husband would have eventually been more unhappy.
2) Follow your heart to be happy and whole, while hurting an innocent.
Religion can really get into our heads when trying to overcome the guilt. I myself was told I would burn in hell forever because I divorced. I was told God didn’t care if I was happy or not. Let me ask you a few questions here:
1) Do you believe that God made you in his image?
2) Do you believe that God made you who you are and loves you for who you are?
3) Do you believe God wants you to be happy?
Here’s a quote for you:
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.“ ~ Augustine
You stated that you wanted to overcome the guilt for good. The only way to do this is to forgive yourself. God did not put you on this earth to be unhappy and miserable while living a lie. God wonderfully made you just the way you are - warts and all!
We know ourselves so well that sometimes it is difficult for us to forgive ourselves. We know our own deep, dark dirty secrets and thoughts. We want to be perfect. Being raised with religion intensifies our desire to be perfect. We will NEVER be perfect and we will never overcome the guilt if we think we have to be. Learn to love and accept you exactly as you are.
I would suggest that you do a couple of things to help you overcome the guilt:
1. Journal: This will be on a few different topics. Listed below are topics for you to journal about:
a) I made the right decision for me because ….
b) I choose to forgive myself because …
c) I saved my husband from more pain because …
d) When I have released the guilt my life will look different because …
2. Affirm: Write the following questions on cards and place them where you will see them often. Read them at least 3 times a day for 21 days. Don’t try to answer these questions - they are actually affirmation questions which allows your subconscious to find the answers for you.
a)Why am I perfect in my imperfection?
b)Why do I love and accept myself just as I am?
c)Why do I forgive myself for hurting my husband? (use his name)
d)Why was it an act of love that I choose to leave my husband? (use his name)
You may also be interested in my article on How To Stop Feeling Guilty After Divorce. You can and will overcome the guilt once and for all.