What do I regret? Without hesitation I would say my divorce. Would I do things differently, make another decision if given another chance. I have asked this question so many times over the years, but the answer is still the same. No. Regret is a wasted emotion. Once a decision is made and acted on there is no going back. What good comes from saying I should have or I wish I would have. Doing that keeps one in a pattern of self pity making it difficult to move on.
Divorce is nasty business. One day you are staring into the eyes of the person you love and then seemingly overnight the eyes looking back at you are filled with hatred. Right after the divorce there were only two emotions love or hate. I couldn’t seem to find a middle ground. Hate allowed me to stay detached. It wouldn’t allow me to remember the good times. When I remembered the good times I started thinking “what if I could go back” and I was stuck. The how and why we split is irrelevant at this point. We have been divorced for over 10 years.
In the ensuing ten years I have done a great amount of soul searching in my quest to heal and find solid ground. I certainly had information that could have destroyed my ex and his career. Believe me that would have been very easy and personally satisfying, but then the collateral damage would have been my children. I kept them in the bulls-eye. Their well being was my target. Here are the questions I asked myself during this time.
Did I want to move on with my life or did I want to spend it trying to get revenge, to make my ex suffer as much I was suffering. Of course that in itself is a disturbing statement. It says I feel my ex didn’t suffer at all. He did of course. His pain was different and had nothing to do with our not being married, but it was pain none the less. This was huge. It isn’t easy to admit that a person who has caused you so much pain is suffering too. Accepting that my ex was angry and hurt forced me to confront and take responsibility for my actions that led to the divorce. I did not cause the split, but I wasn’t completely innocent either.
After the dust settled I realized I needed to decide how I would spend my time. Spending time on getting revenge would diminish my struggle to have control over my thoughts and actions. To want my ex to suffer meant he still had control over me. It has been difficult facing the many challenges of being on my own, and not wanting the one who caused my pain to suffer as much as I have. It was the first step of letting go.
There were many times when I felt much anger, but then I thought of my son and daughter. They are part of my ex. I never wanted them to feel they are imperfect because of that. They will come to terms with their father in their own time. The anger or whatever emotion they feel must be theirs. My job was to support my children in their healing journey. I always reminded myself that if it wasn’t for my husband I wouldn’t have my children. There is no way around this. Who they are and will become is part of his heritage as well as mine. When my son smiled and I see my ex I couldn’t be sad.
Mental health professionals will tell you that it takes a year of healing for every two you were married. At the time I thought, “Hell that would be ten years,” that is insane, but in reality it has taken about ten years. Learning to trust your feelings, trust friends, family, and men was a long and hard road to travel. Letting myself feel all the pain and betrayal took time. I gave myself the time to cry, to vent, and to wonder what was going to happen next. Being married for nearly twenty-five years changes a person. I took time to find out who I was and what I wanted from life. That isn’t done in a year or two. I took the time to make sure the kids were ok. There was always something that needed addressing. Slowly, the kids and I came out of the anger and pain and the road ahead became clear. I ventured down that road.
Today, I am in school. I am studying art which has always been my passion. It has taken ten years to arrive where I am. I can now sit in a room with my ex and I don’t grind my teeth. The road has been long and bumpy, but I survived. I had to travel this road. If I had played, what if, or wallowed in the what might have been, or should haves, I would still be living in the past. After arriving where I am I know I made the right choices. My children are happy, I am happy. I will graduate from college in spring 2010. No, wishing for second chances, no do overs, I am where I should be.