I try to live by the words, “Trust the process.” This is true in relationships and in career. When you get to be my age, you realize that your greatest lessons in life come from your greatest failures. Well, I’ve had my fair share of failure and learned a LOT of lessons in the past decade. I’d like to think I’ve learned enough to get me through the rest of my lifetime. All I can do is trust the process.
The truth is we never stop learning valuable lessons. When I started writing four years ago, I was at a low point in my life. Writing was my gift from God. A way for me to let the pain and disappointment of losing my career flow out onto the pages as a release of my worries. I left my fears on every page. Writing was my salvation.
My marriage was over and although I never saw that as a “failure” per se, I always felt that I had failed my children. I knew I would be better outside of a toxic marriage, but they would be the casualties of war. They would never know what it would be like to have a “real family”. We were broken. Severed…never to be put back together again. Only distant memories bonded us together, now replaced by awkward encounters at graduations and family events.
Speaking of which, recently, my youngest son graduated high school and I have to admit that I was dreading seeing my ex and his wife that day. After the incident at the house a few months ago, I was holding on to all this anger towards them even though I tried desperately to let it go. I wanted to tell her off for invading my privacy…for having the audacity of going through my things and bragging about selling them online. For all the things, she said to me that day that were like daggers in my already broken heart. Then I realized that I had to let it go. She didn’t knowingly hurt me. At least I hope she didn’t. She has no idea what that day felt like for me because she never experienced that loss. How could I stay angry with them when it was only hurting me? They could care less.
That day of graduation, my ex stopped by my house to grab the tickets and I invited them in for something to eat with my family. I didn’t want to be phony, so I kept my distance but I genuinely wanted to be cordial and let go of any residual animosity. My ex handed me a little box that had a flash drive of old home videos we had on VHS tapes. After the ceremony and awkward exchanges of small talk and hugs, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I had truly let go of the negative feelings. I was so grateful.
Later that evening, the kids and I sat around the laptop watching the home videos on the flash drive. I fought back tears of joy. It was so sweet to see the faces of my babies and the wonderful memories we shared. I thought that perhaps this was a peace offering from my ex-husband. A reminder of all the fond memories we shared. Another weight lifted. At that moment, I realized that I had to cherish the good times and let go of the bad ones.
Oddly, watching these videos felt like someone else’s life somehow. The memories were there, but I barely recognized the young woman in those videos. Almost as if, it was a past life and not my own. More healing and understanding came. We were so young and we did the best we knew how. How you perceive your past is half the battle. You can choose to hold on to the negativity or choose to heal. The decision is yours. I choose peace. I choose to hold a space of love for him because we will always be family. I choose to forgive after every hurt because with divorce the hurt will come even after you think it is over. It is the continual process of healing and letting go. It doesn’t end with the signing of divorce papers. It will be a lifetime of self-reflection, scars that take time to heal, and the realization that holding on to hostility will only cause you more pain.
Letting go isn’t always easy. Some things take a little longer to get over than others and that’s okay. Allow yourself the grace you would give to others. At times, we can be addicted to the taste of bitterness. Just remember that it is so much sweeter when you let it go. Keep finding new ways to change your mindset. You may need to have a conversation to express yourself in an honest way. If your ex is continuingly trying to manipulate you or trying to use the kids against you, then you can’t just simply let it go. You have to express those feelings and come to mutual respect in order to move past it.
Forgiveness is not being silenced and swallowing your pain. Forgiveness is being heard and finding mutual ground. If you’re sitting in anger and bitterness right now…listen, I get it. (Been there, done that!) Just be honest and ask yourself if you want to hold on to it because the self-righteousness serves you in some way? Is being “right” more important than being at peace? As I stated earlier, sometimes we are so addicted to drama that we can’t see how small it makes us look. You keep breathing in the toxic fumes that only make you sick. Meanwhile, the other person doesn’t give it a second thought.
Now is the time to get real with yourself. Don’t use distractions as a way to mask your pain. Take a long hard look in the mirror and decide to make some changes. Take ownership of your thoughts and actions.
I have a co-worker that is constantly badmouthing their ex and comes to me for free therapy sessions on a daily basis. I tell him time and time again to take ownership of what you did in the marriage to lead to its’ destruction. It takes two. Sometimes one person is more to blame than the other, but if you’re truly honest you can see that you played a part. Making that person the bad guy only tells one side of the story.
When I hear this person speak so negatively about their ex-wife and the divorce it reminds me of how ugly it makes you look and sound. It helps me to realize that I would hate to look and feel that way all the time, which in turn, allows me to want to find peace and forgiveness. I’m not saying that we can’t point out when our ex is being an asshole, I’m just saying that it’s more important to let go of the anger and drama. You can’t attract positivity in your life if you’re constantly spewing out negativity. So, from the wise words of Ice Cube, “You better check yo self before you wreck yourself” Enough said. 😉