How I Avoided Wishing Ill Will on my Ex
If you read my recent post about cheating, you know that I have good reason to hate my ex. Hate or worse. Maybe even so bad that I could poke little pins into a voodoo doll covered in facial hair. But I don't feel that way. It's amazing to me sometimes that I am able to keep such a cool calm around him even when we're talking about hard things like money, the kids, and the past. I have to have more than just a "let sleeping dogs lie" mentality.
It's not enough for me to cut him slack for being the father of my children. If anything, that would give me even more fuel for the fire because he should be expected to hold up his end of the bargain. But folks, there are no bargains here. There is no way for me to expect or feel remorse for balls dropped. I just have to stay out of his back yard. I like to use the analogy that being his ex and dealing with him is like having a neighbor with a tree that hangs over your yard and always drops so many leaves. There's no way to get around it, I just have to keep raking and maybe be grateful that I'm stronger for the work of going through that.
My life is all about perspective, and I've come so far on letting things go that it sometimes looks like apathy. In fact, it would be apathy if I didn't have Jesus. For as many times as I take the high road, he takes the low road. I know that it's worth it, I'm just still very much in the thick of it so I'm glad I did the work to get over it, him, and all things related. Here's how I've dealt with my arch nemesis and raised kids with him through the worst.
1. Therapy. I think everyone should be in therapy, but going to therapy has taught me that I don't get to make that choice. I find it helpful to talk with someone who really listens and more recently I've found it helpful to be medicated. That guy, you know that ex, wouldn't do therapy with me but after years I got the courage and/or heartache to go on my own. It was so so worth it to work on myself for the long run and to learn to stop trying to fix him. And to let things go.
2. Reading. I wasn't very good at therapy. I've had two dump me (nicely) and the learning experience helped me discover that I, too, needed to walk away. Still, they gave me some solid book recommendations like Peace is Every Step, which changed my life. The meditative transcript on Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Buddhist monk, took me to a place of appreciation for all people. I learned to picture my ex as a boy of 6 and to remember that he has a mother and even though I might hate her, I can practice understanding and listening to them if I think those deep thoughts. Better still, I can practice those thoughts on days when it is not hard so that I build up a tolerance (if you will- a monk probably wouldn't call it that) to dealing with people on the hard days.
3. Meditation. I meditated every day when I was going through Yoga teacher training and it changed my life. See, I started out married and I ended up separated and pregnant. Life is weird, but meditation really helps. Sometimes. Other times it's really hard and just opens up all the wounds. I've learned to kind of see when that's happening and back off. I've also learned that my body really likes meditating and I sleep better when I practice.
4. Sleep. I get irritable when I don't sleep, but I also have a tolerance for periods without sleep. I know my whole body wellness. Realizing that I need to take care of myself no matter the stress level in my life was a game changer for me.
5. Yoga. When I walked into a yoga studio, I found so much warmth and heart strength that I knew I needed to be there for a long time. I signed up for yoga teacher training without blinking. I learned discipline, love, courage, and strength- among others. I learned my showing up for the lessons, I learned as we listened to anecdotes about Dorothy, and in the words of great authors. It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I discovered I could forgive my ex, but I know it was there. Hearing the permission to forgive him, but more importantly, myself was what I needed to do and where I needed to be.
6. Friends. It might sound weird, but I barely say a word to my ex any more. I just know I'm talking to a wall, so I let my (wonderful) lawyer deal with him. I go to my friends for understanding and venting. It's the only place I know that is safe and makes a difference. I feel better when I talk to them than I ever would no matter the level of conversation (or, let's face it, yelling) with him.
7. Writing. I got into journaling in adulthood and really let it carry me through some of the worst times. I was my best advocate, my own sounding board, and when I became ready to build my life up, it was my progress meter. Now I'm using writing as a cathartic exercise because I feel like I've gotten to the other side of some major stressors in life. I want to continue to use my writing to empower and help others.
8. Myself. The biggest way I stopped thinking about my ex was by bringing the focus to myself. I have a routine, and family, and a job. I don't wish ill on him because if my thoughts of him come up, I let them go.