Early on in the process of being cheated on by my former spouse, I learned I needed to not to be angry, but I had not applied that lesson to all the little details that came from the fall out of the action of cheating; namely our divorce. For whatever reason I have to learn lessons over, and over, and over again. It is as if each new situation can’t be applicable to a lesson learned and applied in a previous situation, my brain doesn’t register: New situation, old lesson. Instead it’s programed: New situation, new lesson. Such was the case with my being angry at my former spouse. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, and there were things we could have done better, I could have done better, but the decision to cheat was too much strain on both of us and we decided to go our separate ways. With divorce there comes the question of belongings, debt, child support, alimony, custody (not in order of importance), etc. and each of those can be a hot topic – and to some point were although I must admit that I got the far better end of the deal in every aspect, far better, and he obliged in the end to whatever I strongly felt (my former spouse is a good man who made a poor decision). For a little while I took comfort in talking about these spats to whomever was around, the gossiping (because, guys, no matter how wronged you are, that’s all it is when you’re downing another person to find comfort in the situation), the gossiping about the situation was comforting to me. I wanted people to know how wronged I was – how frustrated I was, how irritating he was! So everyone (namely family and girlfriends) heard it, all of the many “it’s” that came along.
And then one afternoon I walked into my Grandmother’s home to find my brother, that has now passed, sitting at her kitchen table. My Mother was also there and I immediately started on the newest frustrated rant about whatever was taking place. My brother listened and then responded something to the effect of,
“Make sure that whatever you do, you don’t make any of your decisions in anger. There’s no right decisions made in anger – it’s just not possible. Wait until you’re calm again.”
And there I stood in my Grandmother’s kitchen, and I felt stupid. Not because I had been put in my place, to anyone else it wouldn’t have sounded at all reproachful – however to me, who had already learned how not necessary anger was – I was humbled. It clicked. I suddenly realized if anger wasn’t necessary in extremely painful situations such as being cheated on, how much less necessary was it in deciding who would take the queen size mattress? It wasn’t. I am a firm believer that anger has a time and a place and that is for the instruction of the one the anger is directed toward – but if you aren’t their teacher – it ain’t your place to be angry at them. Just let it go. I had no lessens to teach my soon to be former spouse, I learned nothing from the anger, I needed to let it go. That meant I needed to stop worrying about, and especially talking about, the little things. I needed to stop gossiping. Which also meant I had to focus on life after divorce.
When you’re wrapped up in the pain of having just been cheated on, or the fall out decisions that are made, and it’s your day to day – this is hard to do. Especially when you’re still hurting (and you will be), and you need the comfort of arms wrapped around you, a sympathetic ear, or comrade in an ice cream binge (actually I’m not really huge on ice cream, so for me maybe like an Oreo binge or something equally as unhealthy – but still…same endorphins being released) – it’s hard to do but you can do it. Talk about your feelings about what was done, not about crap that brings about anger; talk about how much you hurt, talk about what you’re going to do about it (and by “do” I don’t mean seeking revenge – again, anger, huge waste of everyones time) – but really, what’s your next step up from these feelings toward smiling again. What would make you smile? Take a second and write it down; and no, a Cruella-Deville-you’re-going-to-skin-them-alive smile doesn’t count, I mean like a truly at peace, one with yourself, smile. What would bring that? Take a bite of ice cream, Oreo, apple, onion, whatever floats your boat – and write it down. Ask for that hug, and let the anger, jibber-jabber, about the situation and the what-nots, how-to’s, and they-do’s, go and focus instead on what’s going right and what you can choose to make right. It makes the process so much more peaceful. I can tell you from experience. From the day I stopped talking about my former spouse as if he was scum because of his decision, I have been a better person and I have been more at peace. That was eleven years ago and there is not a day that I regret that decision – in fact looking at the joy, the wholeness, and the healthiness in my children, I praise a God who would humble me over and over again with the same old lesson rather than give up on me after I hadn’t learned it the first time (oh yes, there’s another “over” coming). I praise my brother for his wise words that day. He’s not here now, and I never had the opportunity to tell him, but on that hot summer mid-day, when I ran in all hot and angry, ready and wanting to blab to the world what a scum bag my soon to be former-husband was so I could have an arm thrown around my shoulder and a comforting word or two placed in my ear – you brother -changed my life. Thank you.
And you know what. My former spouse isn’t a scum bag. He’s a good man. He’s married to a good lady that I admire in a lot of ways. He’s treated me with more respect than I deserve in many situations, and he’s always there for the kids and I. Maybe you don’t have that. Or maybe you do. But whatever you have – let that be their’s to deal with, all you need worry about for your own happiness, is you. Let who they are, and talking about who they are or who their decision makes them out to be – go. That’s not for us to decide, and when you really realize and recognize how true that statement is, you will feel so relieved and may even find that smile I told you to pause and look for.