Going along with injustices that you clearly see as disruptive to your relationship and to you personally is not healthy. The resentment can lead to anxiety, psychological depression, and low self-esteem. I suggest that you forgive first and then from that position, ask something of your partner. If you point out your inner pain, then the partner may see the necessity for change. Of course, not everyone takes this cue that they have to change, but it is a good starting point to see if it works in your case.
The key motivation may be this: Do you want to live with the annoyance inside of you and possibly growing inside of you for a long time? Forgiveness under this circumstance certainly is challenging, but all the more necessary to get rid of the annoyance.
It seems to me that you may need, at some point, to do the important work of forgiving. I say that because you say you can push the memories away only “for a while.” In other words, they keep coming back. If you forgive, you likely will remember what happened to you, but you will remember in new ways, without so much anger.
Who has caused you more hurt, your ex or your father? I would recommend dealing with the one who is causing you less pain because it is easier to forgive those with whom you are less angry. This will give you a chance to learn the forgiveness process well. You then can turn to the more challenging situation.
Humans characteristically use psychological defenses to keep them from pain for which they are not ready. Thus, temporary denial can be a protection for people before they are ready to confront an unpleasant or threatening situation. If the denial goes on too long, say, for years, then this may prevent the person from working on healthy ways of dealing with one’s own weaknesses or the injustices from others.
Yes, there is a large literature, for example, with people in prison that shows many have suffered trauma from other people prior to their crimes and imprisonment.
Here are some references (click on the highlighted text to read the abstract and/or the complete report:
- Brinded, P., Alexander, M. J., Simpson, I. F., Laidlaw, T. M., Farley, N., & Fiona, M. (2001). Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in New Zealand prisons: A national study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 35, 166-173.
- Collins, J. J., & Bailey, S. L. (1990). Traumatic stress disorder and violent behavior. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 3(2), 203-220.
- Enright, R.D. Erzar, T., Gambaro, M., Komoski, M.C., O’Boyle, J., Reed, G., Song, J.,Teslik, M., Wollner, B., Yao, Z., & Yu, L. (2016). Proposing forgiveness therapy for those in prison: An intervention strategy for reducing anger and promoting psychological health. Journal of Forensic Psychology, 1:116.
- Masuda, M., Cutler, D. L., Hein, L., & Holmes, T. H. (1978). Life events and prisoners. Archives of General Psychiatry, 35(2), 197-203.
The defense mechanism of displacement occurs, for example, when a person gets angry at someone who is not the cause of the anger. If someone is displacing anger onto you, then this is unjust and therefore you could start by trying to forgive the person for this. From a position of forgiveness, you then could try pointing out the reality of the pattern. When the person is annoyed at something or someone, you become the recipient of that anger. The person should not get too upset if: 1) you wait until the person is not in an angry state and 2) you bring up the pattern of displacement without accusing. If the person nonetheless gets upset, then I would drop the issue and only bring it up again when the pattern of displacement emerges again (but I would not bring it up immediately in this new context). Eventually, if you can be non-threatening and only point out the pattern without using an accusatory tone, then the person may “get it” and stop the displacement.