“Whatever people do, feel, think or say, don’t take it personally. Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system. So whatever they think about you is not about you. But it is about them.”
~Agreement # 2 Don’t Take Anything Personally
~Don Miguel Ruiz The Four Agreements
It seems as my life pushes forward, many people have opinions about me. My divorce is in progress and my ex certainly has opinions about me. While we were married, I learned to never stand up for myself or what I believed in. I didn’t want conflict. So I thought if I chose my battles wisely, we’d deal with the big things and the small stuff.. well, you know THEY say… not to sweat it. So I let a lot of things roll off my back. At least I thought I did. Really what happened is that those things rolled right inside my thoughts about myself. I took it personally. I never saw him talk to other people the way he talked to me. If someone called him, they had his full attention for as long as they talked. He’d never say, ‘can I call you back.’ He never disregarded other people. For some reason I don’t understand, it was as if I wasn’t there. Eventually, I wasn’t.
“When you hear an opinion and believe it, you make an agreement and it becomes part of your belief system. The only thing that can break this agreement is to make a new one based on truth. Only the truth has the power to set you free.” ~Agreement #1 Be Impeccable With Your Word
Now my ex-everyone seems to feel the same way. My former in-laws came to a cub scout event for our 8-year-old. As they came in the doors, they walked right up to me in the seating area. Faces smiling. I was soo relieved because I thought they were mad at me. Suddenly their expressions changed. They stopped walking. They turned around and went three rows back and sat down. Never said a word to me. I tried not to take it personally.
My adult children were having the most difficult time adjusting to the divorce. I had talked with all of them before I made my decision. They all felt I deserved to be happy and if my needing to leave was what I had to do, they each said they’d support that. What they hadn’t considered is that ‘home’ would be changed. My ex (their step dad) had become a very important part of their lives. They didn’t want to lose a relationship with him. I didn’t want them to lose him either. But what occurred surprised me. In fact, it hurt me. Each of them spent time with my ex, dropping by the farm, inviting him out, going over to hang out with him, etc.. But I rarely saw any of them. When I’d call, their schedules didn’t allow for a get together. Those first holidays were brutal. They had all become used to the Norman Rockwell holidays I’d created on the farm. There were many happy memories, I loved those times too. But it had changed. Part of getting divorced is so that you don’t have to be with that person so much anymore. But my children all worked very hard to re-create Norman Rockwell. I took the brunt of the fallout. And yes, it felt personal.
The contacts I was making on the dating sites were like mini-lifelines to me. Each contact that crossed my path was an open door. So many doors had been closed. (Yes, my decision to leave my marriage was my choice. And I understood there would be consequences. Lines drawn. Some of those lines just surprised me.) These new doors.. were a Godsend. Most of them never lead anywhere past the introduction. But I held onto the ‘you just never know.’ The possibility. Until I began to believe that it indeed wasn’t all about me. That the choices others made to not be kind or to change or end a connection with me, wasn’t about me. It was about them.
“In any kind of relationship, we can make the assumption that others know what we think, and we don’t have to say what we want. We assume they are going to do what we want because they know us so well. If they don’t do what we want, we feel hurt and think, How could you do that? You should know.” ~Agreement # 3, Don’t Make Assumptions
I had to speak up to my kids. I had to let them know that I wanted them to have an ongoing relationship with their step dad. I wanted that for them and for him. I had to let them know that I still wanted them in my life too. It wasn’t long before they began to realize I didn’t hate my ex and they didn’t need to hate him either. At the cub scout event, my ex walked over to the seating area. He walked toward all of us sitting in separate rows. Without speaking a word, he walked right up and sat down next to me. We are still our little guy’s parents. And we have the ability to co-parent him as we always have.
“You are alive. So take your life and enjoy it. You were born with the right to be happy, to love, and to share your love. Just to be – To take a risk and enjoy your life – Is all that matters.” ~Agreement #4 Always Do Your Best
This is my life, just as it is. I have this one time on the roller coaster of life. I can either spend my life waiting in line for the good stuff to happen. Or I can climb on, buckle the seat belt and raise my hands up high. (Don’t kid yourself though, I’m the one screaming the loudest on those tight curves.)