By Rica Lewis
Infidelity is not a hard pill to swallow — it’s more like a jagged, unrelenting blade.
And when it happened to me, I was a young mother working double shifts to keep the kids diapered, fed, and relatively happy. I didn’t need another problem, especially in my marriage. I didn’t want to know that my partner was not employee of the year, clocking long hours for duty’s sake. In fact, the only thing he was “working” was a chess game of cheating and manipulation. And his distant, angry and argumentative behavior had nothing to do with stress or fatigue.
He had checked out of the marriage, but my eyes were too hopeful to see it.
The truth was a gentleman then, tugging gently at my sleeves for attention. But I had two little ones tugging too, and they weren’t so easy to appease. So I gave the truth a day pass and said, “Go away now. I have a life here, ya know.”
And even when my husband was physically present, his heart was across town with a redhead. When the subtle signs became gigantic billboards, I could no longer ignore the obvious. Sadly, reconciliation was a white lie because he wasn’t willing to do the work.
Marital counseling showed me that. As much as I feared the solo path, it was so clearly laid out before me. I knew the hard, cold blade of divorce was going to rip a massive hole in my heart. But…
The wound is where the light enters ~ Rumi.
If infidelity and divorce were the blade, then healing was like climbing a barbed wire fence — excruciating with every step. But I would hang on; blood, sweat and tears be damned. I would make it out of my hellish ordeal and discover that divorce would not destroy me, rather it would make me a better woman. It would prepare my heart for new love and many new adventures.
Suffering is a crude yet incredibly effective teacher. So if you are in such a position, consider the lessons I’ve learned, and know that you’re not alone in your struggle.
Lessons I learned from divorce:
1. I wasn’t always right.
I could tell you that my ex had issues, that he liked to break things, blame people, and sleep around. He could weave a story like the famed Aesop of ancient Greece. While I’d like to believe the divorce was entirely his doing, I have to accept that I wasn’t always right. I shut down, stopped talking/listening, and locked, boxed, and buried my affections. I’m talking separate rooms, not just separate beds. When couples start keeping score, counting offenses and tallying rights and wrongs — everyone loses.
2. We should not let outsiders in.
Most women have at least one friend who’s seen the tear-soaked tissues on her bedside table, the contents of her diary, and her biggest fashion blunders. It’s such a comfort to have friends who stand by us, share our passions and understand our scars. But outside of polygamy, marriage is a two-person party. That means friends, family, and neighbors (no matter how we love them), have no place in the equation. On occasion, they may offer some sage advice to help us over the hurdles, but we ought to be careful not to give an outsider too much space in our homes.
3. Some people are here to teach us, not take care of us.
I do not hate my ex. Hate is a personal poison, and I refuse to ingest it. I often hear divorced people recount their regrets.They say things like, “I wasted five years with that man/woman.” That’s foolishness, I think.
It’s never a mistake to love anyone. Because love is as much a gift for the giver as it is for the recipient.
Love makes the world shiny and shows us new shades of our dull lives. Maybe we loved someone who stomped on our heart. It sucks. Post divorce, I had enough broken pieces to make a kaleidoscope of my suffering. Still, I don’t believe I wasted anything. Not love. Not time. Instead I gained strength and wisdom, and I learned to trust my intuition.
4. We cannot change people.
We can inspire, influence, even annoy the hell out of people, but we cannot change people without their consent. That won’t stop me from helping or nurturing someone in need, but I recognize when enough is enough and when I’ve become an enabler.
Walk away from people who take without giving or growing.
5. This moment deserves our full attention and appreciation.
Seeing my partner morph so cruelly into a stranger was shocking. I was tempted to pound my pain into a big batch of cynicism and serve it at my pity party. Appetizers, anyone? Ultimately, I know that I am responsible for my own energy, and I chose to be a better, not a bitter woman.
And the pain? I learned to acknowledge the hurt and refocus to bring my attention to the present. When I found myself ruminating about the past, I used self-talk to shift my attention.
“Here comes the anger and outrage,” I’d say. “I am judging my ex now, and reliving the past. I’m going to turn my attention to this meal I am enjoying with my children. Because this moment deserves my appreciation.”
Divorce can be a painful, pivotal event. It was for me. But I found an amazing new path further up the road, just beyond my field of vision. May you find the courage to keep your heart open to life’s awesome gifts.
Rica Lewis is a senior magazine staff writer and the founder of Yoga Mat Monkey.com. Her Yoga ebooks have inspired many practitioners (beginner and advanced) to get on the mat and ignite the magic and joy in the journey. “Be flexible; be fierce” is her everyday mantra.
Be Flexible. Be Fierce.
Yoga Mat Monkey
Rica Lewis, Founder/Writer/Editor