"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”
- Flora Whittemore
There comes a time when we need to open and walk through the door labeled “Moving On.” Having slogged through the swamp of separation, court cases, child custody issues we are exhausted. Maybe some of these issues are trickling on, but in our gut we know it is time to turn our focus elsewhere.
It happened to me when I arrived at work one Monday morning. A co-worker with anxious, shining eyes asked, “What’s the latest catastrophe? Your life is like a soap opera.” I realized in that moment that 1) I was oversharing and 2) I was feeding the drama in my life by talking about my frustration from the antics my ex pulled. In that moment, I made the decision that I was not going allow him to hold a power position in my thoughts anymore. I shut the door—no more drama, no more complaining.
We do need to tell our story to help us heal, (i.e. working with a therapist), to teach or help someone else and to anyone we feel has earned the right to hear it. I had a friend who was so traumatized that she told her story over and over to everyone and anyone. This went on for 10 or more years before she was willing to address her anguish with a therapist who gently eased her through the moving on door. Let’s not wait that long to get help.
When we first left, we needed our anger as a way to keep us from being drawn back into our exs’ lair. We stoked our fury by rehashing the violent scenes and sins of our former partners. It was necessary to keep us out of the relationship until our strength solidified. We now recognize their predictable behavior but don’t waste our time or energy reacting to their antics. Can we close this door? Letting anger go does not mean we forgive or forget how our former partners behaved. (see Real Life Forgiveness ) It is saying that we will no longer allow their darkness to take up space in our thoughts and feelings.
We have, no doubt, spent some time plotting revenge on our exs. I’m not going to say that was necessary, but it was a way to release our anger. As long as we didn’t go through with anything that could be categorized as illegal, it served the purpose of temporary appeasement. Can we close the door on plotting revenge?
One evening I railed at God, saying I could let the desire for revenge go if I knew my ex had experienced as much suffering as he inflicted my children and me. I wasn’t asking for one drop more. A little voice in my head said, “How do you know he hasn’t?” There was no way I could know. Also, it was not my right to make that call. Mouth shut. Door closed.
It is normal to wonder what is going on in our former partners’ lives. We often worry:
- Will their new partners be safe? Should we let them know what they are getting into? (The answer is no. Would any of us have listened to earlier partners?)
- Maybe our exs have changed and all the effort we put in is now benefitting other people. (Let me assure you, they have not changed. Remember the honeymoon stage, where everything is like a fairytale? Tension and abuse will always follow. (The Cycle of Abuse) Controllers will continue to use tactics that have always worked for them.
- Will the kids like the new person better than me? (No they won’t. We are their moms/dads. Our children will not remember the stuff our exs and new partners may provide. They will remember how our eyes lit up when they entered the room. Our love and attention are what matters.)
Can we close the door on snooping into our exs’ lives? Can we also stop (or not start) pumping our children for information about our exs as well as trashing our exs to our children? That door must be closed, locked and the key tossed away.
Can we open the door to fulfilling our dreams and passions? After spending years standing stagnate waiting to spring forward and fulfill our partners every demand, it’s hard to get moving again.
I felt so grateful to have a safe place, that I hunkered down and didn’t want to do anything. Besides, I didn’t know what I liked to do, eat or see. My preferences, needs and wants were ground into the dust long ago. Just curling up on the sofa seemed preferable to me.
Staying in to lick our wounds is okay for a while, but not longterm. Too many wonderful opportunities can pass us by if we hide in our homes. You may, like I did, have to force yourself to call a friend and set a date for coffee, dinner or a movie. Get involved in causes, things that will make you feel good and build your self-esteem. It may be hard at first but do it anyway. Throw open the doors to opportunities— new and different experiences. See how wonderful and full your life can be.
What doors you choose to open or close determine the life you live. Go out and make yours a good one.
BTW- The best revenge is to go on to live a great life. 😉 (Just Sayin’)