Are you still haunted by negative thoughts about your first husband and marriage?
Whether your first marriage ended because of divorce or death, it’s not always a simple matter to leave the past behind.
Our past lives on, often quite vividly and insistently.
It takes up residence in our imaginations and informs our memories.
And what is your imagination? It’s the stories and scenarios you create to describe a situation or experience you are remembering or anticipating.
And what are memories? They’re stories too. Stories you play on repeat. They’re composed of all the words and sentences you use to to describe events that occurred in your past.
We think these stories are descriptions or explanations of reality. And that they’re true.
But what if we’re wrong about that?
Thoughts about your prior marriage can interfere with your equilibrium today.
Even if you’ve moved on and are happy in your second marriage.
The negativity you feel about your first marriage can cast a long shadow that inadvertently influences your current marriage.
After my first marriage ended in divorce, I toyed with many interpretations of my experiences.
To refine them into a cohesive narrative, I devised well-crafted stories about what had happened over those 20+ years.
They all involved blaming my former husband for the eventual collapse of our marriage.
Here’s a sampling of what I told myself, my family and friends when I explained what I “endured.”
- How he wronged me.
- How I suffered.
- Everything that was wrong with our marriage.
- All the things that were wrong with him
- Everything that was wrong with his family.
- How hard I tried to fix us and keep our family intact.
- How his lack of emotional intelligence caused me so much unhappiness and resentment.
- That our marriage was doomed to failure and our family shattered because of his selfishness.
Failure was a hallmark of my story line.
But what if I was wrong about ALL that?
The story of my first marriage was a catalog of resentments, frustration, anger and righteous indignation.
I told this story in a way to absolve me of responsibility, guilt or shame.
It’s no secret that I was positive that our problems were all his fault.
I believed this story for another 18+ years after our divorce.
Every time I thought of him and all my disappointed expectations, I felt a visceral ache in my stomach.
I replayed the indignities that still hurt me many times over.
But what if I really was wrong about that?
For most of my life, I had no idea that all my thoughts were actually choices I made.
I imagined that my thoughts somehow “welled up” in my mind based on how I was feeling.
I had no idea that it was just the opposite, that my thoughts created my feelings.
That my brain was running on a default loop of well-rehearsed negative thinking about my former husband and our marriage.
That it was this default thinking loop causing the frustrated, resentful, angry feelings.
I didn’t understand that I had absolute, indisputable power over ALL my thoughts. About anything and everything.
I created those sentences in my mind to explain, justify or describe my experiences.
If I could make up those sentences, then I could unmake them. I could remake them. At any time. Any way I wanted.
NO ONE COULD STOP ME. EVERY THOUGHT WAS OPTIONAL.
The power and control was all mine to think and feel however I wanted.
When I realized I could tell the story of my first marriage any way I wanted, I was flabbergasted.
This meant it was totally up to me to interpret the events in my marriage, within my family and in my whole life in any way I decide best serves me.
That didn’t mean I enrolled in Pollyanna University, getting my PhD in white-washing “the truth”.
It didn’t mean I was ready to “lie” to myself just to try to make myself feel better.
Did I want to feel better? Yes I did. Of course I did.
Everything we tell ourselves about a circumstance is subjective.
So why not look at it from a perspective that helps me feel more empowered and more in control.
Where’s the lie in that? Why is that rosier perspective any less true than negative version?
Here’s the truth about “the truth”.
Events and circumstances happen. These are the bare unvarnished facts of my life. These facts are the truths.
Everything else is just a story composed of the subjective thoughts I think about them.
Thoughts made up of all the adjectives, adverbs, descriptors, opinions, beliefs and values I ascribe to those facts.
They are my interpretations of what I thought and felt around the facts of my life.
Those stories are not the absolute truth because there are many different ways to interpret any circumstance.
Now I understand that I am the author of my life’s story, the past, the present and the future. THIS IS HUGE!!!
No matter what, YOU are the author of your life’s story, the past, the present and the future. LET. THAT. SINK. IN.
You’ve got power and control to shape your life far greater than you’ve probably ever imagined.
I get to decide EXACTLY how I want to think about my first marriage.
I used to think my first marriage ending in divorce was a clear sign of my failure to change my husband’s behavior for the better.
That our divorce revealed to everyone who knew us that our seemingly happy family was actually a troubled family. That we were happy family imposters.
I carried this burden for many years.
But where is it written that divorce = failure?
I WAS wrong about that.
Now I understand I don’t have to buy that story.
It doesn’t serve me now. It never served me.
It actually trapped me in a spiral of dislike and resentment toward my first husband that lasted years after our marriage ended.
Now I know how to retell the story of my first marriage as one of growth.
I can find many examples of how I grew stronger, more self-sufficient and capable because of the challenges in my first marriage.
How I better understand what I wanted in a future partner.
I emerged prepared to be a better prepared partner in my next marriage.
I released myself from the damaging belief my marriage had failed.
Here’s what I think about my first husband and marriage today.
Now I embrace the belief that my marriage was completed.
- It was a crucial part of my life’s journey.
- It allowed me to create my beloved daughters.
- I learned so much about myself, what lights me up, what I value and treasure that’s worth keeping.
- I learned what I needed and what I didn’t want in a relationship.
- It was preparation for the work in the world I do today.
- It was always supposed to happen that way. How do I know? Because it did!
I no longer see my first husband as my former or present enemy.
Now I see us as two good people who lacked the knowledge and skills to overcome our inherent differences and styles of being humans making our way in the world.
I have much more empathy and compassion for both of us and our struggles.
It’s no longer important to me to have been “right” all along.
I know I have the power and the absolute control to think whatever thoughts best support the life I want to create.
The ache in my stomach is gone.
Want to learn how to rewrite the story you tell about your first husband and marriage?
Jump on a free Strategy Call with me so you can put those ghosts to rest. Once and for all.
I can help you find relief.
Reach out to me and let me know you’re ready to get started right here.
And in the meantime, remember this maxim, it may come in handy: There’s no such thing as failure. You’re either learning or succeeding. Love it!