I ran into her at Target while looking for conditioner. We knew each other from another life. Now her life is changing and she’s angry. Her husband wants a divorce.
As I listened to her, I realized that he was very unfair to her but also that we are very loyal to our anger. We take others actions, judge them according to our own standards and then we’re hurt by them. We have expectations and they aren’t met. That hurts. I know that when I allow myself to be swayed by the feelings of a situation as good or bad (my judgment), I have a hard time letting go. But when I try to imagine the person as neither good nor bad but just living in different shoes (ones I’m glad I don’t live in), I’m able to let go.
This begs the question, how do we let go of horrible tragedies, like death or the Holocaust – or divorce? These are terrible situations, some worse than others. Recently, I read about a woman who went through the Holocaust, and who was grateful for the experience, as much as she suffered, because it made her who she was at that moment. Love.
Everyone lives in their own world. And we forget that each world is different with different life experiences. Then, people take their life experiences (their hurts), they turn around and hurt others. I want to hate those. But when I feel that way I try to remember my mom telling me to be better rather than bitter.
We don’t have to condone what people do. My friend doesn’t have to condone his actions. His reality is not her problem … but, at the moment the pain occurs, we have a choice: We can hang on to our anger or look find the moments of joy that will take us away from the pain. We can be thankful that we are not living in the other person’s shoes.
So, I made a few off-hand suggestions to my friend (based on my own freaking life experiences):
1. Notice when the anger comes.
2. When you have those feelings, pause. Take a breath and tell yourself that these are just your expectations of his behavior. That he’s in a different world.
3. Try to empathize, put yourself in his shoes. See the landscape of your life and be thankful it’s not the same as his.
4. Take it as it comes. You will feel good and you will not feel remotely good. Let yourself experience these feelings and appreciate both.
5. Accept yourself (and others) without judgment. You didn’t want his “direction” anyway.
6. Be thankful he’s letting you go so you can find the real beauty in your life.
7. Love the moments of clarity. Your life has all the possibilities you can imagine (and ones he’ll never have).
She can give herself the gift of forgiveness. Of finding peace in her life that he likely won’t find. And in the end, I bet that his loss will be her gain.
Have a great night!