If you look at a chart of the stock market spanning the last 10 years, the lowest point for the S&P500 was around March 1, 2009. That just happened to coincide with the moment my marriage fell apart. I was exhausted from a hard week at work, trying to train an incredibly dense new employee. My wife happened to be suffering from her monthly experience, and my son of five years happened to be at his most irritating stage of life. He hadn’t yet acquired the skill of telling when an adult is getting angry. I had to yell at him, she had to yell at me, and suddenly I had a momentary emotional breakdown. I’m not a violent person, and I would never say abusive things to anyone, but I can yell pretty damn loud when I want to. It was only a few seconds, but it was devastating. Apparently, my wife had been significantly more unhappy with our marriage than she had ever communicated to me. It was over, just like that.
Here’s the interesting part: she had nowhere to go. All of her family lives in Peru (you can see why she was unhappy.) She had no job, and I didn’t make enough to support one household, much less two. I certainly wasn’t going to say “O.K. , here’s $2000 for plane tickets to Peru, so you can take my son away from me.” I didn’t even want a divorce, so I just left her alone with her conundrum. I moved into the guest room/ art studio.
We lived that way for three full years. The amazing thing was—it was not bad at all. We love our son, so we made it work for his sake. Oh there was certainly a long period of resentment, and I found myself behaving like I did long ago when I was feuding with a roommate—you know, pushing their buttons, leaving them work that you could easily take care of yourself. Then I just asked myself, “Why am I doing this? There’s no law that you have to hate your ex-wife.” So I stopped it all.
I suppose it was easier for me than it would be for most, because I’ve been meditating for years. I recite to myself, every morning, the prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace; where there is hate, let me sow Love; where there is injury—Pardon; where there is despair—Hope; where there is doubt—Faith; where there is darkness—Light; where there is sadness—Joy…..
It’s a good reminder of how I want to live, even though our society programs us to be combative. I actually love everyone. I certainly abhor the things that most people do, but I don’t blame them for their behavior. We are programmed, and years of programming is difficult to purge. I just pray that more people can break the cycle. My ex and I have taught our son that divorce doesn’t have to be full of hate. Now I want to pass on to you the knowledge—it is possible. Don’t assume that you have to behave the way people expect you to behave. Choose the good path. You’ll be glad you did.