Showing civility and kindness to your ex isn’t about doing something for him, it’s about doing something for yourself.
Cheated on. Lied to. Manipulated. Left for another woman. Heart in tatters, financial ruin and the demise of all my dreams. My ex had all the credentials to be the destroyer of my entire life. Except I didn’t let him. Two years later, I am doing great and I harbor absolutely no hard feelings towards him. Part of me still loves him and always will. I am friends with my ex. I have managed the impossible and found in myself the capacity for forgiveness and compassion.
But let’s start from the beginning. Like many in my situation, when he first left me, I couldn’t see a way out of the spiral of despair and hopelessness I had sunk in. I was consumed with rage and the sense of having been robbed of the happy, steady, predictable future I was entitled to. I jumped into dating. I was absolutely not ready for it. Men’s attention became a lame band-aid for my still profound, bleeding wounds. I am not proud to say that I broke a good man’s heart in the process, in typical rebound fashion. I still remember the horror I felt when he uttered the ‘love’ word and the eerie silence that followed.
Casual dating became my fix when life felt too much and all I could do was lose myself in an embrace. I had absolutely no intention to have a relationship, getting serious or let my guard down again. To escape the ugly reality of not being good enough for the one man I truly loved, I let others I didn’t flatter me all the way to bed.
Meanwhile, my ex’s new relationship was losing its shine.
Working and living together with the other woman was proving too much, and the realization of having shattered a once happy family was catching up with him slowly but surely. By the time I asked for a divorce, the fog of his midlife crisis had dissipated. And this is the point where our ‘curves’ met: mine steadily climbing up from the rock bottom I had been lurking in, his plummeting down from the false high he had been riding on.
The other woman went. He lost his job. He could not afford to rent a place and moved in with his mum. Karma paid him back very handsomely indeed. But far from feeling the overwhelming joy and sense of triumph that I had anticipated, relished and savored in my head, I felt sorrow for a man whose midlife illusion had been dismantled so thoroughly. Surprising myself completely, I was feeling compassion for my ex.
By that time, he was desperate to come home. Plan A hadn’t worked, Plan B suddenly seemed very palatable. But it was too late. I had long decided that I would never risk putting myself and my kids through the ordeal we had gone through again. I still loved him but my survival instinct was stronger. I had lived my whole life believing that ‘love conquers all’, but I now knew that this is not always the case.
I was kind to him, friendly and helpful.
I negotiated his moods and changing attitudes towards me and I never badmouthed him in front of the kids. I never stopped communicating with him but I politely declined any attempt to talk about us. Our divorce and division of assets went through quickly and painlessly. Being kind to him helped me become kinder to myself. Hate wasn’t a sentiment I was prepared to entertain and, frankly, I just wanted to move on with my life.
And I did. I did a lot of introspection and acknowledged some uncomfortable truths about myself. I tidied up my past into a neat story, one where I was neither the hero nor the victim. And then I gave myself permission to change it. To act differently. I read extensively about physics, philosophy, religion, anything that would help me figure out the meaning of it all. I traveled the world, finally guilt-free. I opened my mind and my horizons to new realities and ways to look at things and felt fantastic or it. I started taking pleasure in my work and truly cherished my time with the kids. Last but not least, I stopped the reckless dating and met someone really nice who I have now been seeing for six months.
I never thought I would ever be uttering those words, but I am the happiest and most content I have been in years. I try not to think about the future but live in the present as the here and now is, at the end of the day, all we have got.