Chapter 22

Susana claims that she’s forgiven Chris even while she’s still angry, yet she refuses to renew their relationship. Is this real forgiveness?

©iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

©iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

It is true that people sometimes claim to forgive when their subsequent behavior clearly shows they haven’t. However, Susana does truly forgive Chris here, and subsequent events prove that her forgiveness is sincere (for one thing, she never again brings the subject up). Unlike Chris, Susana actually finds it relatively easy to forgive, even while she’s still angry. Hers is not a vindictive nature to begin with, and she understands that forgiveness is a decision one makes, wholly independent of the emotions involved.

However—and this is where many abused women get confused—there is a difference between forgiving past wrongs and taking oneself out of an abusive situation in order to prevent the perpetration of future wrongs. This is the same idea as forgiving the pickpocket who steals your wallet from your open purse, but still choosing to keep your purse secure in the future. Chris has just behaved like a royal jerk, and Susana has no indication, at this point in the story, that he has controlled the underlying disrespectful, vindictive, abusive-type anger that he exhibited so clearly. Therefore, although she forgives the past wrong, she recognizes that his behavior unveiled a basic lack of respect toward her. Putting herself back in the same situation before he corrected this attitude would signal that she’s okay with being treated as though she were unworthy of respect and consideration. She chooses a wiser course: to back off and observe his behavior to see whether the regret he’s expressed verbally is real enough to effect a change in his attitude. Recognizing her own emotional bias, she also enlists the help of others, specifically her mother and Debora, who can interpret Chris’s behavior more objectively.

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