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The first time I remember not feeling a charge around my divorce was on a date.
The guy had asked me something about my kids and I heard myself refer to my ex as “my kid’s father” instead of “my ex-husband.”
There’s something about the term “ex” that feels bitter and negative. I recall actually feeling my body tense up whenever I said the words, “my ex.”
A friend I had gotten to know through a women’s group had gone through a pretty traumatic divorce herself, and we found ourselves curled up next to the fireplace one night, chatting. I was sharing with her how I was still struggling with letting go of my pain around my ex, and she suggested that I refer to him differently when I spoke about him.
“Maybe when you speak about your ex, you can try calling him simply “my kid’s father,” she said tenderly. “There’s something about referring to him in that way that honors him for the beautiful gifts he gave you and shifts the energy around your relationship.”
I loved her suggestion, but in the coming months, I still found it difficult to refer to him that way. At the time, I was still carrying so much bitterness and anger toward him over some of thing things he had done, and I think a part of me wanted to hold onto it so I could continue to play the victim and not do my own work.
When you’re going through a breakup or any kind of heartbreak, people will give you all kinds of well-meaning advice to snap you out of it and try to make you feel better. The Italians will tell you, “Don’t worry, karma will get ’em,” and the enlightened, hippy-dippy crowd will say, “Pray for their love and healing, that’s how you’ll heal.”
I’m Italian. So for a long time, I preferred hearing the karma death wish to soothe my aching heart and bruised ego. But the deeply spiritual, compassionate hippy girl inside of me was seeking enlightenment.
So instead, I started to pray for him.
I live in LA, so I spend 50 percent of my life in my car. I’ve had to come up with all kinds of interesting and productive ways to pass the time on the jam-packed freeways during my drive to work and one of those ways is to pray and meditate.
So, as time went on, and I came to accept the ending of my marriage and do my own inner work, I prayed every single morning on my way to work for my ex.
“God, please help Joe (not his real name) find peace, love, and happiness and bring him whatever help he needs to get there so that we can one day be friends and have an amazing co-parenting relationship for our kids.”
At first, when I prayed for this, it felt like I was praying to hit the Mega Millions. I mean, honestly, it felt that unrealistic and impossible. The ex who hated me and everyone associated with me was going to be at peace? The ex who broke me apart would one day be my friend? The ex who barely acknowledged me when we exchanged the kids was going to be my co-parent partner in crime? As if!
But you know what? I believed I could speak it into existence. I wanted my inner peace and my healing more than I wanted to be right. I wanted it more than I wanted to stay angry or be a victim. I wanted it more than I wanted that Italian karma to rear its ugly head on anyone. The truth was, until I was able to fully let go of wishing bad karma on anyone for hurting me, I could never fully heal.
Over time, as we chatted casually on the sidelines at soccer games or on my front porch when we he dropped off the kids, he started to share more personal aspects of his life and trust me with his own struggles and healing process.
I found myself rooting for him. I truly wanted him to be happy. I realized I had no ego or attachment anymore—that his happiness wasn’t tied to me. I didn’t feel that I wasn’t enough anymore. I didn’t feel screwed over or the victim of anyone’s actions or decisions like I once felt. Let me be clear, I was doing my own work. Deep, self-love work that took time and a lot of amazing people supporting me along the way.
But for the first time since we split up, I felt utterly and completely at peace.
Soon we were talking about his relationships with other women and his desire to find love. And I was joking about how he was always the romantic while I was the realist and wishing him luck “with all that drama.”
People ask me now if it’s weird to be having these conversations with my ex-husband and my answer is “not at all.”
Peace and healing come when we become willing to accept things as they are, not as we wish them to be. It comes when we can adapt to the changes in our life by not holding onto what once was, but what is now.
It comes when we can somehow find it in our hearts to pray for another person’s healing and happiness even when that person has hurt us. Because I truly believe that the energy we put out into the world comes back to us tenfold and how can we ever feel at peace when we’re holding onto so much anger and hate toward another person?
If you’re struggling now with this, I see you. I’ve been there. You can get to where I am, I’m really no one special. Just a girl who was willing to take the hippy-dippy route to find peace again.