Heartbreak

Why I No Longer Wish My Ex-Husband Dead

Photo: tabitha turner | Unsplash, Fly View Productions,  Elena Photo | Canva
Woman growing after finding out about her husbands other 'family'

My mother was excessively controlling when I grew up. It makes sense when you know my story. As a terrified kid, I followed along. As a teenager, I rebelled with a vengeance. At the exact time she was divorcing my father, I married someone just like her. I might’ve done it to spite her because she had a serious "hate on" for him. Little did I know, I was entering a tumultuous journey of abuse — mental, verbal, sexual, emotional, and, on occasion, physical.

The turning point came when I discovered my husband's double life. I learned that he had another significant relationship — and was living with another family — in Duluth, MN where, for the last few years, he’d spent two weeks out of every month for business. 

I thought about leaving him then, but we didn’t have much money and my income was tied to my position in his family business. We were living in the U.S. where I did not hold a visa to work anywhere else, plus I was five months pregnant at the time, with raging hormones and a rambunctious two-year-old. 

RELATED: 13 Reasons Why People Stay In Abusive Relationships

I desperately wanted him to love me, only me.

One day he came up with an idea. We each had our reasons to believe it would fix our relationship. It was something that, even though it was expensive and invasive, would surely fix our relationship. We were more than optimistic. That something was new boobs for me. 

But the only thing that changed was my bra size when I had my boob job — it didn't fix our relationship in any significant way. Begrudgingly, I submitted to the realization that I needed to get myself back to Canada. So, that’s what I did. I didn’t know until a week before the move if my husband was coming with us, but he did. I thought maybe going home would change him. It didn’t. Then I thought a new house might do it. Nope. I was hanging on by my fingernails. After thirteen years together, I left him. Our boys were seven and nine.

My brother, who I hadn’t seen throughout my entire marriage, asked, “What happened? What went wrong? Tell me in one sentence.” It took me a long time to come up with an answer. It was hard to boil it all down to one sentence. The process was, however, exceptionally therapeutic. This is what I came up with:

I had to choose between myself and my marriage — and I chose myself. 

I knew my ex wasn’t gonna make it easy, but the aftermath of our failed marriage and co-parenting for a decade proved to be extremely challenging. My lingering hatred manifested in wishing him dead, especially when our kids were affected by his actions. I did my best to shield my boys from my hate, but there were times I slipped up. I honestly thought that my kids’ lives would be better if he wasn’t alive. Pretty messed up. When our youngest turned eighteen and my legal obligation to communicate with my ex expired, I door-slammed him like the card-carrying INFJ that I am

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As the years went by, the quality of my romantic relationships improved in only marginal increments as I unwittingly dragged my childhood coping mechanisms into adulthood. But I did begin to wonder if perhaps, just perhaps, the problem was partly me. 

I tried to forgive my ex. I explored books, therapy, and all the new-fad forgiveness exercises. I did them all.  But not much changed until I hit rock bottom and checked myself into a residential treatment center for depression. The insights I gained through therapy and reflection became the foundation for my book, Navigating Sh*tstorms.

These are my new truths:

  • Inadvertent Victims: To varying degrees, we are all products of our childhoods.
  • Childhood Responses Shape Adulthood: How we respond to events as children is what shapes our adult lives more than the actual events. And, our childhood coping mechanisms were never meant to be permanent.
  • Understanding Others: We can never fully comprehend someone else's experiences.
  • Doing the Best We Can: Everyone does the best they can with the resources they have available at the moment. (This includes my mom, my ex-husband, and myself.)
  • Life's Lessons: The universe provides the circumstances for the lessons we are meant to learn.
  • Heart Voice: Trusting our inner voice and finding the courage to act on it leads to the healthiest outcomes.

A breakthrough came with the forgiveness formula that I call C2: Curiosity x Compassion = Forgiveness. 

When I applied curiosity to my ex-husband’s childhood and relied on my new truths, I couldn’t help but feel compassion — and that’s how and why I stopped wishing him dead. 

   

   

My heart voice — the one that suggested that maybe, just perhaps, the problem was partly me — was right. I needed to look within. So, I embarked on a long and complicated expedition to learn to love myself which included a lot of self-forgiveness. Peace, love, freedom, and joy, I discovered, reside within. 

RELATED: Use This Simple Method To Forgive Someone (Even If They Don't Deserve It)

For those of you who may find yourselves in similar situations, I offer these tips: 

  • Ideally, heal your childhood crap before you get married. 
  • But also, it’s never too late.
  • Avoid judgment. You never know what people have been through or the battles they currently face. 
  • Try the C2 Forgiveness formula. Apply curiosity and compassion not only to others but also to yourself.  

The outcome wasn’t just two incredible kids, but also a surprising and integral role played by my ex-husband — helping me learn to love myself. For that, I am eternally grateful. We may not be friends, and that’s okay. My new truths have propelled me beyond expectations, proving that even in the darkest moments, there’s potential for growth, healing, and unexpected gratitude. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse or violence, there are resources to get help.

There are ways to go about asking for help as safely as possible. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling with domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

RELATED: 10 Tiny Things People Who Truly Love Themselves Do Without Even Realizing It

Liz Long is dedicated to mental health advocacy and inspiring others by sharing her story. She introduces the world to “Victimtown” through her book, Navigating Sh*tstorms: How to Find Your True Path When Life Gets Rough.