Gratitude is not any easy thing to feel or express for an ex. Usually, our worst memories are wrapped around our experiences with exes. We recall hurtful things said and done, betrayals, a host of negative emotions, and a broken heart. Upon reflection, I decided that an ex truly is an “ex-ample”, a lesson learned, and reasons to be thankful can be found even in the most overcast moments of life.
My reasons for appreciation are a mixed bag of sweet and sentimental and those of the more “you live and learn” variety.
Here are my Ten reasons that I can say “thank you” to my ex today:
1. First and foremost, the two most precious things to ever become part of my life, my children, are here because of you. If nothing else ever came from our relationship, I can never thank you enough for these two precious gifts! Perhaps they are the only reason you and I were ever together; but they make everything worth it!
2. Thank you for being a loving father. I don’t always agree with your parenting style, and sometimes your decisions make me downright angry; but, one thing for sure that both the kids and I can never doubt is that you love them. I grew up without my father and know many other children without a father in their lives, so I know that your involvement and devotion to them is an invaluable gift.
3. Thank you for the times you were there for me and you did make me feel loved. It wasn’t always bad. Obviously, we shared something or we would have never married. You were part of my life, for better or worse, for a decade. I can’t reclaim or change that time, so it is a part of who I am, no matter what.
4. Thank you for becoming an effective co-parent with me. We didn’t always get it right. We both made plenty of regrettable mistakes in the beginning because we were both hurt and angry, and it affected the way we parented together. I appreciate that we have come to a place where we can peacefully cooperate, communicate, and put the needs and wellbeing of the children before all else!
5. Thank you for being a part of my self-discovery that led me to recognize what I am worth and what I deserve in my life. Yes, this comes about because of our relationship not working and the dynamics between you and I. Our relationship was broken, and you weren’t a good husband to me. I was lonely, frustrated, and sad. I’ve learned, grown, and reflected on my mistakes, and I believe you can too. I believe you could also be a good husband to another woman, if you really try.
6. Thank you for teaching me what I need in a relationship. I learned this lesson by first not having my needs fulfilled and experiencing the disappointment of a bad marriage. You helped me to become aware of what I needed to avoid in future relationships so that I didn’t find myself in another doomed situation. You have your good qualities, but many of your other qualities were incompatible with my needs. I wouldn’t have known these things about myself without enduring our dysfunctional situation.
7. Thank you for helping me to become a stronger person. I first had to experience complete brokenness before I could re-build and be reborn. I suffered through pain, disappointment, humiliation, betrayal, and disgust unlike anything I could have ever imagined because of our marriage and divorce. Sometimes I truly wished I could just die because you made me feel so hopeless. Somehow apathy turned to anger and I found the fire I needed to inspire me to come back more confident than ever before. I feel that I can do anything now- including stand up to you when I need to!
9. Thank you for giving me the motivation I needed to do more with my life. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say; so, finding myself a terrified single mom lit a fire in me that inspired me to go back to school and find deeper meaning and purpose in my life. I wouldn’t be involved in writing or helping others the way I am now if you hadn’t given me so many experiences to draw from or reasons to fight for myself and our kids!
10. Thank you for making it possible for me to find the loving relationship I was always meant to have. If you and I were still together- miserable and counting away the days until we finally die- I would have never had the opportunity to meet the man who is not only my best friend, but an ideal partner. I am finally treated with love and respect. I am told everyday how much I am loved and appreciated. He wants to spend time with me, live life with me, and grow old with me. I am truly blessed, but I would have none of this if you hadn’t been the exact opposite and forced me to leave!
Discovering reasons for gratitude has helped me to be at peace with my past so that I can fully embrace my future. It was important for me to rectify the good with the bad so that I could forgive, learn, and grow. Yes, it’s not all pleasant. Sometimes appreciation is cloaked within ugliness; but, the layers of pain can be peeled back to reveal hope and inspiration to achieve something better. Something beautiful can be buried deep inside of something disagreeable!
I have forgiven. I do try to focus on the positives and not allow myself to be haunted by the past. Although my marriage was bad, it provided an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. I needed to go through hard times to discover my own strength and so that I can recognize a truly good thing by using the bad as a comparison.
I wouldn’t relish going back in time and reliving any of the moments from my past marriage or divorce, but I am grateful that I experienced all of it because it helps me put my whole life and priorities into perspective. I couldn’t be who I am today without both the good and the bad!