The 5 Most Important Lessons I Learnt From My Ex-Husband…
Two weeks ago, on a sunny Saturday morning, my day began just like every other day: coffee; walk on the beach with Muggy; and breakfast with friends. What wasn’t part of the normal routine was a text message I received:
Hey Shan. Just wondering if you would be free to catch up for a coffee this morning. A.
Just to clarify, ‘A’ is my ex-husband. We haven’t seen each other in almost 2 years.
Talk about a blast from the past. I felt like I’d been hit over the head with a sledgehammer.
Slightly rattled, but deeply curious by this unforeseen invitation, I agreed to meet up and invited him over for a drink. I’m sorry, but coffee would not suffice for this encounter: harder stuff was not only an option but a necessity…
Once he arrived, and we got past the small, polite chit-chat, he moved straight on to the bigger stuff:
“Tell me everything that’s happened to you in the past 2 years”.
So, I spent the better part of an hour recounting my life circa 2012/13, and all the marvellous adventures and milestones I had experienced. After I finished, he looked at me with an incredulous look on his face and remarked at how amazed he was by what I’d accomplished, and how incredibly proud he was of me. But what hit home the hardest, and the deepest was these words of his:
“You are so different to the girl I remember. You live your life so fully now.”
Yeah, buddy, I sure do.
This wonderful, yet bittersweet, chance encounter with the man who was once the love of my life made me reflect on my life post-marriage, and just how far in my journey I have come. More importantly, I realised just how much I have learnt from A, even during our subsequent years apart. Although he is not a part of my life anymore, he has still taught me some very important lessons. And I’m super grateful for that.
Here are the 5 most important lessons I learnt from my ex-husband:
1. Time does indeed heal all wounds, but you will always have a scar
And that’s okay. Because it’s our scars that make us special, show us the roads we have travelled, and remind us of how we got there.
2. You can surprise anyone - even those who think they can’t be surprised by you
It’s a startling moment when you realise that the person who once knew you better than anyone else [even better than you knew yourself] can be so astonished and blown away by the positive changes you have cultivated in your life.
Watching A’s face light up in amazement, or chuckle in disbelief, or register a look of flat-out shock when hearing of my adventures was worth more than any amount of money in the world.
“You’re not the girl I married”. Ah, yeah, you can say that again…
3. Sometimes, people make stupid mistakes, but you just have to forgive them anyway
When I told A that I had forgiven him for his indiscretions and failures as a husband, he was astounded. Grateful, but astounded.
He told me that he had never expected, nor thought he deserved, my forgiveness. But that’s the thing, I explained: I didn’t do it for *him* - and it certainly doesn't mean that I condoned what he did - but rather, I did it for me.
I forgave him so I could release myself of anger, resentment, and humiliation.
To allow myself to move forward.
Progress. Grow. Flourish.
At the end of the day, he’s never coming back to me [and to be honest, I don’t want him to], so what’s the point of holding on to all that pain? Forgiveness is essential because, without it, I would not be living the life I find myself willingly, joyfully, authentically living - and I wouldn’t trade that for the world *fist pump.*
4. We all grow older, but not all of us grow up
Let’s just say that A will always be the eternal Peter Pan: striving to live in a perpetual state of stunted adolescence; surrounded by younger people; shirking the traditional responsibilities of a man his age; and enjoying all the hedonistic pleasures that come with such a lifestyle.
Kudos to him for trying to maintain this, but I’ve got bigger plans for myself…and the man who I choose to spend my life with will too.
5. Where there was once love, a part will always remain
As we were saying goodbye that Saturday, we shared a long, tight, purposeful hug. At that moment - as we clung to each other tightly and lovingly - all the things that remained unsaid could be felt; that our love for each other, whilst no longer what it once was, could still be felt beating within our individual hearts, and the sweet knowledge that we will always carry a part of each other within ourselves.
We are grateful for the beautiful times and we are also grateful for the ugly times because they have both - collectively and ultimately - brought us to where we are today.
Happy. Independent. Free.
Living the lives we were ultimately designed to lead...separately.
Embracing the realisation that we both love each other enough, as friends, to want mutual happiness, peace, and success.
And that, my dearest ex-husband, is one of the greatest lessons you ever taught me…
Photo by Jeremy Wong Weddings on Unsplash