Last week I attended an event and I was peppered with the usual questions, are you married, how long etc? I am a pretty open person and when I mentioned my ex husbands ( yes 2 we will get to that), I was met with the usual negative perception, and eye rolling about the EX being bad, a problem, and wholly responsible for the break up.
It is customary to speak of our exes with disdain and eye rolls, and it is usual that the person with whom you are speaking assigns some blame, and assumed personal defect to the ex. This got me thinking? Why do we always assume the EX to be a bad person or a perpetrator. We cannot all be walking around sparkling clean and without blame in the break up of our marriages.
I find myself wanting to defend my ex husbands. I want to say to the person who has never met them but instantly dislikes them just because they are my ex that, they are not a bad person and really do not deserve instant judgement. Being an ex does not = the bad guy or girl in the story.
Don’t get me wrong I know many people who have exes that I am well aware are perpetrators of abuse, control and drama that would make Jerry Springer blush. However, it is exception not the rule.
So when someone hears I have an ex and get the old eye roll and instant judgement towards that person I want to put on the brakes. Here are a few reasons why I think we should do this differently.
- I am 2 men’s ex wife. So whenever I am brought up in conversation I AM the instant target of judgement and scorn. Who wants that energy coming at them from every conversation that your ex has that involves you. I can tell you 100% that I was not the sole reason those relationships ended.
- They are actually not bad people, they have flaws and broken bits and have not always behaved well towards me or others. However, they were not 100% awful and I have been just as broken and guilty as them.
- I take responsibility in being the woman who thought that THIS BROKEN person was a good idea to partner up with. I can not blame anyone else for that. They did not force me to fall in love, or marry them. I made the decision to be with them, and even though I did it from a wounded place, I still did. I was the kind of woman at that time in my life that not only sought out that kind of relationship but actively participated in its dysfunction.
- These reasons make it so unfair to assume that my exes are to blame for our breakups and that they are bad.
- I was culpable in the successful moments as much as I was for the unsuccessful moments. My wounds sought out someone to continue the pattern. He was a willing participant in this and I was a willing participant in reenacting his wounds.
This is the harsh reality of trauma. When we have experienced trauma in our past via physical abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment or neglect. We are more likely to recreate our trauma in our behaviors and in our relationships choices. Our trauma story finds new people to continue the story. Both of my husbands played active roles in my continuing my own trauma story. The reasons I chose them and attached to them were because our wounds mirrored each other’s pain. This can be a very attractive and compelling connection.
I married my highschool sweetheart, and then a man who was 21 years older than me. It does not take a psychologist to see that I was working some stuff out in my marriages.
One of the reasons I left these marriages eventually was because I no longer believed in this trauma story, and no longer felt connected to the usual players. It was brutal to go through two divorces, because my tender wounded inner child picked both of them for very legit reasons. I can say this now because through therapy and energy psychology techniques I have and am healing those trauma wounds. I could never have said this before, I needed them to be the bad guy and me the victim in order to feel strong enough to leave.
I have apologized to them both for my role in letting my wounds choose them, only so that I could then allow them to let me down and continue my trauma patterns. I have apologized for my role in creating a pattern of re-enacting their own wounds. I was neither a good person or bad person in these relationships, I was merely working out my trauma and trying to heal. However, that does not mean I did not hurt them. It does not mean I was a loving partner, I hurt them both and let them both down. We let each other down abundantly, but I cannot help but still have good feelings.
I have been working on forgiveness of myself and others. One of the ways that I routinely do this is to write a love letter to that person. I have completed this for them and here are a few of my thank you statements to them both.
- Thank you for making me feel safe sometimes.
- Thank you for showing me that I was desired
- Thank you for always working hard so we had resources
- Thank you for the laughter
- Thank you for seeing the good inside me
- I loved our time together in highschool when we were newly in love and I felt loved and protected for the first time.
- I loved how you made me feel like a muse, and a cherished spirit and how it created a magical and romantic Sense and Sensibility Story.
- Thank you for loving my family despite our own wounds.
- Your sensitivity and your intelligence pushed me to be kinder, smarter and more worldly.
I wish them both health and happiness. I will no longer mention them with disdain and with judgement or anger in my heart. I will not participate in the usual conversation that instantly demonizes them because they are both children of the universe who deserve love and compassion.
I wanted it noted that I had to do a lot of grieving and releasing of anger to get here which was also necessary to my healing.
This is my own story and my own journey. I am not saying that YOU should do this, because it would not be fair of me to step into your story and tell you what to do. However, I do hope that this will give you food for thought. When they stay the villain, we stay the victim and that is a very stuck and dark place to be.
I want to remind you that if you have been a victim of abuse, and power and control abuse in your marriage, I understand this story could be triggering for you. Please know that my situation was different then yours and it is your story to heal from. No judgements from me and you have all of my love and support. These are two very different situations. But if you need some support please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will connect you with resources.
My final thank you to my ex husband’s. Thank you for being a part of my journey, because without you I would not have found, or been ready for my current husband Jason. We have been together for 13 plus years and married for almost 7. Each and every day is a gift, and I do I love him dearly. My ex husband’s taught me how to be a better partner, and gave me the clarity to know what safety and true pure love feels like when you find it. I love you Jason.
P.S. As a licensed clinical social worker and therapist, the study of trauma is of interest to me. I continue to heal my own, help clients heal theirs, and study the impact of trauma on relationships. Trauma impacts how we treat ourselves, and how we treat others. It impacts the dynamics that we create in our relationships at home, socially and in the workplace. My current focus is on how trauma impacts the small business owner and entrepreneur. Stay tuned for more information on my findings, and how I can help.
Nicole Lewis-Keeber MSW LCSW has 18 years of experience as a psychotherapist and is a trained money and mindset expert. She is currently a Life Coach for entrepreneurs and business owners. Nicole@lewis-keeber.com