“For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love. This is an unalterable law.” Eknath Easwaran
For some time after my marriage, I believed that my ex was intentionally hurting me.
By giving up on our marriage, she was disrupting our lives, the lives of our family members and our close-knit Indian community at large.
I thought the very idea of divorce would hurt all the people we knew – including ourselves.
In your case, your ex could have intentionally hurt you when your relationship ended.
Your ex could have fallen in love with someone else and suggested a breakup so he could move to Portugal to be with the 25-year-old woman of his dreams.
Or, after a 20-year marriage and two kids, your husband could have told you he’s having a baby with his mistress.
Or your ex could have used her support payments – which came from your hard-earned dollars – to create the life of her dreams, travel the world, brainwash your children and make you look like the bad guy.
Your ex could be making your life a living hell, making you question your sanity and filling you with burning anger and resentment.
Your ex may make you want to do what Adnan did to Hae Lee in the Serial podcast (Season 1) and bury the body in Leakin Park.
During this trying time in your life, I believe you have two choices in how your respond to your ex’s behavior.
You can choose to be the victim of your ex’s life and choices or you can choose to find peace of mind in the middle of this storm.
Your marriage may have ended and you may have lost your spouse but you don’t have to lose your mind too.
Here are 7 ways to find peace of mind in the midst of your separation, divorce or post-divorce life when your ex’s actions continue to cause mental turbulence and emotional unrest.
1. Forgiveness will free and liberate you.
As much as you want to respond similarly to your ex and cause them great harm, you are simply creating more problems for yourself. Engaging with your ex will require you to spend more mental and emotional energy fighting with him. Hatred and anger is a losing situation.
Only your forgiveness and the ability to see your ex through a new set of eyes will change your ex. Only your changing your energy will change your ex’s energy. Only letting go of anger and hatred will give you back your life.
If you’re stuck in anger and committed to payback, you’ll spend your time, energy, lawyer’s fees and sanity on a losing battle. Resentment and revenge are losing battles no matter how sweet they may feel at the moment.
The courage to forgive will set you mentally free to live your life and have more peace of mind.
2. Don’t blame yourself for your ex’s actions.
Another way to find peace of mind is to stop personalizing your ex’s actions.
Whether you believe it or not, your ex isn’t directing everything he or she is doing at you.
Your ex’s decisions may not be wise, productive or in his or her best interests, but your ex probably isn’t making these decisions specifically to spite you.
If you are the target of your ex’s anger and vitriol, you must engage in even more understanding and forgiveness.
Remind yourself that you are not responsible for your ex’s behavior. Insecurity, fear, anger and mean-spiritedness may fuel your ex’s actions, but you don’t have to take them personally and you don’t have to believe you caused them.
You don’t have to blame yourself for what this person is choosing to do.
3. Have an overdose of compassion and gratitude for yourself.
In addition to forgiving your ex, spend some time healing your heart, feeling more compassion for yourself and searching for gratitude.
If you feel compassion for yourself, the fuel of resentment will cool. The fire of hatred will abate a bit. You will hold yourself less responsible for your ex’s actions. You will stop blaming yourself.
Start treating yourself like you would someone you loved – without judgment and with much understanding.
When you focus on gratitude, you can’t focus on reciprocating pain or being angry at your ex.
4. Take the high road when you face resentment and malice.
Throughout your marriage, you might have enjoyed this tit-for-tat behavior that caused both of you pain.
Yet in your post-marriage life, you may want to create another kind of relationship with yourself and with your ex.
You might consider taking the high road for the sake of mental sanity and peace of mind.
The high road means doing the just and fair thing. It’s letting go of the minor and the petty. It’s ignoring the trivial and not letting insulting words or actions get the best of you.
It’s reminding yourself that you’re the better person and that you can walk the high road even if your ex can’t.
The high road will help you move on while your ex swims in the deep waters of hatred.
5. Take the high road for the benefit of your children.
If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids.
How you treat your ex will affect how your children view interpersonal relationships, their parents and their future partners.
If you want to make the greatest contribution to your children’s mental and emotional sanity, show them how to forgive, let go and treat each other respectfully.
Your children have already gone through something traumatic. To allow your separation to hurt them even more doesn’t seem fair.
Your job as a role model and a person will have a longer lasting effect on your kids than anything you teach or share. Your behavior and attitude towards their other parent will be what matters most to them later in life.
Do it for your kids because they’re watching.
6. Find your own happiness, meaning and fulfillment.
If you get caught up in your ex’s life and what your ex is doing, you’ll be angry often and bitter even more.
For good or bad, you are both out of this marriage.
No point crying over spilt milk, who won “The Bachelorette” this season or who’s in the White House. No, actually, we do need to cry about that, but you don’t need to cry about your marriage any longer.
You don’t need to look towards your ex’s life, your ex’s words or your ex’s actions to determine your own happiness. You don’t need to be the nosy neighbor in your ex’s life to determine what is meaningful and fulfilling.
No reason to compare, judge or experience irritation over the life your ex is living.
If your ex is traveling the world and living it up, good for him or her.
If she moved to Italy and is dating the prime minister, good for her.
If he’s getting married two weeks after the divorce papers are finalized, good riddance!
You need to return to yourself.
This is no longer a partnership.
You are no longer filing jointly.
Your happiness, your life’s meaning, your taxes and even your peace of mind are now your responsibility.
Yes, it’s harder this way but adjusting to this new reality gets easier with time.
7. Take ownership of your life.
This all brings me to the fact that you are the only person responsible for your life.
As my friend and fellow author, Andreea, mentioned to me, the waves may be high and dangerous but you’re still in command of your boat.
You have control only over your own life.
You can’t do anything about what your ex does or who she does it with.
You have little say over whom your ex spends his money on or how much younger she is.
You are both done being a part of each other’s lives.
You can allow the divorce to end the relationship you once had and then learn to create a new relationship. This is the renewed relationship of two new single people or two new single parents.
Moving forward requires that you accept what happened, make peace with the end of your marriage and choose to move forward under new circumstances.
You’re the captain of this boat; you can choose the direction you want to go and you can pick up new people along the way.
It’s time to say au revoir to your stormy past and demanding ex and aloha to the new life and relationships that await.
The oars to inner peace are in your hands.
To help you let go and move on, check out my book on healing a broken heart, 10 Sacred Laws of Healing a Broken Heart.