Steps To A Better Me: How I Learned To Stop Hating My Ex
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By Fabulous at Fifty , Featured Columnist - January 18, 2017

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Hate is such a strong word. A word in my home growing up we were not allowed to say. We could say "dislike" towards someone, but never "hate".

Now as I am in my 50s, it has been hard to maintain that respect for myself and not let that word consume me. It was especially difficult in 2013 when my ex-husband told me, in the car leaving an airport after I returned from an overseas trip, that we were done.

Thirteen years of marriage and what I thought was a decent relationship was now over.  I found out a few weeks later, via text, that he was having an affair with his 12 years younger married co-worker.

When I first found that text and approached him about it, he couldn't deny it. My immediate anger and talking myself out of murder, because I would not do well in jail, first surfaced. I had never shown any domestic violence at all towards my husband, but the things running through my mind at that moment would have ended up on an episode of Dateline.

My stomach was in knots. I couldn't eat or sleep thinking about the times I had thought he was with her. What a non-healthy way to diet to find out your husband is sleeping with someone else. This went on for several months, and the hate I had for both of them loomed in my brain.  

Seeking the Support You Need

Once I was able to overcome my anger, then sadness decided to roll in. I could not stop crying! My 18-year-old son was living with me at the time and he would tell me to suck it up, he wasn't worth it, you can do better Mom. While I appreciated his trying to help me, at the same time I needed the mental breakdown to allow me to move onto the next emotion: Feeling sorry for myself. I sought out a counselor who helped me to put the pieces of my sanity back together.

I would cry on the way to work, in the shower, and talking on the phone to my friends. I am sure the moment my friends and family saw my number come up, they hit ignore. I can't say that I blame them. I needed to work on how to get out of that sadness. I got out and joined groups, got out of the house and talked to people about things other than him. I even went to movies alone. I no longer allowed him to consume my life. 

Processing the Divorce

Once I was able to process all those emotions, I was finally able to sit and see images in my head of my marriage that I once thought would withstand Hurricane Hugo. He cheated two years after we married, I stayed. I am not sure why. I guess because this was my third marriage and I wanted to not be a failure. I wanted a father figure for my son whose father was an alcoholic and absent. He cheated again 10 years later and I cried over it, reasons today I can no longer justify.

My ex called me before our divorce was finalized, and yes we slept together. He would tell me all the things he loved about me when only months prior he told me he hated those things. He reeled me in the way all narcissists do, and I believed and swooned on every word he said.  

Our divorce hearing was held a few months after the split. My emotions were raw and it was me and my attorney. He was not too happy I had sent the mistress flowers, and I was trying to calm him into allowing the court hearing for adultery to proceed. I didn't have enough evidence per my attorney and anger set back in again.

I remained for months uncertain where all this would end up to the point that I finally gave in a year later and agreed to a no-fault divorce. It was the best decision I ever made. My aunt went with me and told me, "Don't you dare shed a damn tear over him." I didn't even have to think about that, the tears were no longer there. I felt as though a cement block was lifted from my soul that day.

Three Years After the Divorce

I have been divorced almost three years, and I am the happiest I have ever been. Never did I think in 2013 that I would be in the place I am now. My friends told me I would get to this place, but I never believed them.

I have built a relationship with my family, and I am closer than ever to my two older daughters. I rebuilt my relationship with my father after five years of not speaking. My friend said due to this and having healthy relationships, it opens up the doors for me to now find a healthy relationship with a man. 

The biggest change I did in my life: I have not dated anyone since the split. I went out to dinner a few times with a guy friend, but that doesn't count. For the first time ever, I decided to take time for myself. I traveled whenever I wanted, I go out with friends, I have a house full of people where once I wanted to just be alone. I have changed.

I can finally look in the mirror and see all the problems my marriage had and that it truly needed to end. I hate the saying, "I needed to find myself", but I truly did and you need to do the same. You need to find out who you are alone. You know those days when you were 12 on the playground and needed your daddy but figured it out all by yourself? Yes, that you. I enjoyed who I was when I was alone. Was I lonely? You bet your ass I was at times.

But that was never a need to pick up the phone and call the ex. No thanks, I don't need that toxicity in my life.

Strangest thing is my ex and his mistress still work together, she is still married, and I see them working out together at the gym. In fact, they worked out in the same class with me a week ago. I turned around and looked and turned the other way and talked with my friends at the gym. Three years ago, I would have had a mini stroke and probably left the gym.  

Yes, my marriage ended. Yes, he cheated. But you know the best thing about it? He did me a favor. I am better without him. I don't hate him, I just hate the person he turned out to be. Forgiving him has been difficult, but I look at all the positive things in my life and realize what I had been missing. I even bought a brand-new house built just for me last summer.  

Losing a part of your life is hard. The emotions you go through will take over for a moment and that's normal. Learning to not hate is a long road to a healthier and happier you!  

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