I had a breakthrough today.
I’ve had it coming for about five years, and today, finally, I had it.
I sat in a room with my ex husband and I looked at him without anger.
I looked at him without a taste of bitterness in my mouth, my jaw ungrimaced, my arms uncrossed, and my brow relaxed.
I met him at eye level. Not above.
I saw him.
And this time, I felt compassion and peace.
We were together for almost fourteen years, bitterly divorced just before my thirtieth birthday. Our marriage was lousy. All of it. We were terrible for each other, co-dependent maybe, toxic for certain.
I’d try to control our worlds and he’d drink. The more he drank, the more vigilantly I lived. The more I tried to fix and save him, to maintain appearaces, to be a perfect everything to everyone all the time and in every way, the more we both grew darker.
I hated who I let myself become in that relationship.
Our divorce was a relief, for both of us.
But it still stung, and I was angry.
I was fuming for what didn’t happen, indignent for what did, and resentful for what would never come to be. I was a bundle of negatively charged emotion, ready to catch flame at the slightest whisper of a breeze. Prepared to pass judgement and pounce at the first indication of things not going my way. Looking. Seeking. Keeping score.
And I kept that fury in my pocket for a long time, allowing it to fuel me. Anger gave me drive and purpose and a mean determination to prove myself to the world.
See me? I am right. He is not. I am good. He is bad. I am best. He is worst.
I win. He loses.
But nobody gets a gold medal for these games. Not a single victor remains standing.
For two years I worked to come to terms with that. I tried softening. I took new approaches. I learned to better control my reactions. I poured over books, listened to endless hours of input from speakers and coaches, did exercises, wrote about it, reflected on it, modified my thought patterns, I was dedicated to making a change.
But it wasn’t enough.
I was still angry. Still judging. Still skeptical. Unwilling to trust. Preparing for the other shoe to drop. Waiting— to get hurt, more, and again.
I was carrying anger not just for myself, but on behalf of my children. Holding space for things that hadn’t even happened yet, assured that it was my duty to bear the burden of their pain and thus perhaps prevent it from ever happening.
What a waste of living space.
I knew it. But I still wouldn’t let it go.
And then, last week, I lay alone in my practice in half pigeon, arms outstretched with palms open, ready to receive. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I felt my arms drop to the floor with a ponderous thud as though someone were pressing my body into the earth.
My hands were heavy.
And I knew, with complete and utter understanding, that I was done. The anger had become too cumbersome for even me, with my very strong arms, to shoulder any longer.
I was ready to sever the anchor chain and move forward unburdened.
And so I did. And so I am. And so I will continue to do.
Anger does not serve me. It offers no function, produces no benefit and prompts no goodness in our lives. It does not have a place at the table in my heart.
The load has been removed from my care; I’m done. Five years later, and I’m ready to lead from a place of love.