I belong to a few divorce groups, some are women only and others are a combination of men and women. When I first started on this divorce journey, I mostly sought out groups that were about healing and recovery. There are some groups that are great at this, while others are nothing but bitch/slam fests when it comes to the exes. I think all of this is good in the recovery process as long as it moves you forward.
There have been a couple of posts where I’m left shaking my head and really want to tell the poster that they need to get serious psychological help. Or at least acknowledge that they need help in order to move forward. I know what it feels like to be sad, angry, resentful, and all the other emotions that come from divorce – especially when it’s not something you want.
One group I belong to is specifically for women whose spouses cheated on them. One of the women in the group decided that she would post the name and phone number of the other woman (OW). She asked others in the group to text the OW, or more specifically, “go after the bitch.” And, of course, there were plenty of angry women in the group who were willing to oblige. I’ve been there where this woman was and am not proud of the barrage of texts I sent to the OW who was cheating with the ex. It wasn’t one of my better moments. It has never occurred to me though to ask other people to do this as well.
When we act out like this, we lose our dignity. We give power to the other person. I think we also feed into the dichotomy that the exes have told about us and it justifies their bad behavior to the affair partner as well. In this process of healing, I wish I would not have ever sent the texts that I sent. I cannot change the past, but I can do better now. Despite my worst moments over the past few months, I have not contacted the OW again. I don’t want to give her any more of my energy.
In another group I belong to, another woman had an affair while married. She is struggling with that decision and generally wanted to know how other women who had done the same thing managed with the guilt they were feeling. I applaud her for being vulnerable and posting her story. Another woman in the group though actually tried to justify her bad behavior by stating “that if your needs are being met at home, then you have no reason to cheat.”
Um, fuck no.
This was the same bullshit line that the ex used on me to justify his bad behavior. First, there is this little thing called “communication,” which is essential in any healthy relationship. If you don’t feel like your needs are being met by your spouse, then you need to talk about it. The ex told me he had been unhappy for years after he dropped the bomb on me. He also told me of the things he was unhappy about me, which I then spent a good 7 months trying to correct. I can’t help but think that had he had the courage to have this difficult conversation of his dissatisfaction with our marriage or the with me and really given us the opportunity to work on these issues, we might still be together. Even more importantly to me, if we had tried to work on things and it didn’t work, then we could have agreed to end things together and perhaps the pain that’s been created in this aftermath would not have been as great.
Second, happiness does not come from other people. If there is dissatisfaction, then you have to first examine if it’s internal or external dissatisfaction. The infatuation that comes from getting involved with another person while still in a committed relationship, hides the work that needs to be done. Something I have had to learn for myself is that I was not responsible for his happiness. I think that this is something that the ex is learning as well. I have been working really hard to own my shit, to examine how I got here and have never been unwilling to admit the mistakes that I made in my marriage. We are human and mistakes will be made. Having the expectation though that someone else is responsible for meeting your needs, for making you happy, is an excuse to justify for your bad decisions.
You need to own it in order to grow.
Yes, we all have to be responsible for our own *stuff* and no matter how awful the other person is, we can only move forward if we move past it. We can’t change how they are and how they betray us, and it certainly doesn’t help to make ourselves miserable and miss out on the happiness we deserve. There is the grief/anger process (up and down, down and up) and then there is deliberately hanging on to the pain and the bitterness.