At Divorce Buddha, we are devoted to studying and discussing relationships, behavior, healing and the like. It is our passion to get to the root of your suffering, understand the path that you have traveled, and to map out a path for you in your recovery.
You are each suffering differently, experiencing different hurts, and different betrayals. Likewise, your healing will be different, requiring varying methods and lengths of time. Everyone’s story is different but the one thing that you all have in common is suffering.
These facts remind me of a conversation that I had with a friend, a friend who has been through her own personal trauma, and much like the rest of us is “dealing” with the hand that she has been dealt. She was verbally and physically abused by her ex during their marriage. Yet, as she was venting about her ex-husband to me she said that she works toward having an amicable relationship with him, for the sake of her children, because A PERSON IS NOT ALL ONE THING. I paused. My mind literally went on pause! Why was my friend, a victim of violence, not characterizing her ex as an abuser?
She declared that her ex-husband is not all one thing. Is a person all one thing? Does one action or one personality trait define who a person is? In eastern philosophy, we talk about separating the “act” from the “actor”, seeing the act as the result of an affliction. In western culture, we talk about separating the addiction (substance abuse) from the addict, seeing the addiction as a disease. Other religions and cultures have similar teachings, but what does this all mean?
Is it fair to label your ex as one thing and to refuse to consider the other characteristics of his or her personality? Is your ex only a “cheater”, “addict”, “abuser”, or “liar”?
A person has many personality traits. One person can be kind, giving, helpful, generous, thoughtful, intelligent, and funny. This is probably the person that you fell in love with. But, this very same person can also be manipulative, selfish, deceitful, irresponsible, childish, unaccountable, and self-entitled. It’s the latter that you have to make amends with as you are leaving the relationship; by this, I am saying that you have to accept that you were treated poorly by this side of your ex and forgive yourself.
A person is not all one thing. Yet, I am not suggesting that by remembering the good times or the better attributes of your ex that you give your ex a free pass, at all! What I am suggesting is that you open your mind to the totality of your relationship and not for the purpose of reconciliation, but for the purpose of furthering your understanding. Further your understanding of how your relationship worked (or didn’t) and how you desire your next relationship to work.
It is acceptable to be angry, upset, and hurt for a period of time. But, a part of being mindful, specifically during your divorce, is to do the “work” – reflect on the past, learn more about yourself, learn more about what you want in a companion, and discover what experiences you do not wish to repeat.
You may naturally wish to avoid looking back at your relationship because you are hurting. Hurt makes us defensive and narrows our perspective by putting up mental barriers. Hurt makes us want to shield ourselves from further pain. This is a natural response. It’s okay to live from this perspective…for a period of time. As time goes by, and as you heal, be willing to open your mind. Spend time looking back at your relationship, the good times, the bad times, the loving moments, and the fights. This is a healthy way to say good-bye. This expanded perspective can lead to forgiving yourself, forgiving your ex, patience, and ultimately mindfulness.
Then consider: Which personality traits are most important to you in a new companion?
Each of us, individually, is complex; we are not one thing. Our relationships are complex; they are not one thing. So, I leave you on this note with the suggestion that you do look back on your relationship with your ex.
Take from this post what will work for you. Acknowledge that each day is an opportunity for change and keep your mind open. But, most of all, remember that love begins with you!