It’s a thin line between having compassion for yourself and having it for others. Working on both pieces at the same time is helpful. — Vicki Botnick, MA, MS, LMFT
It wasn’t easy for me to move on from a 20-year marriage that was broken in a snap. My husband of two decades left me for a younger woman. There, I said it. I am not ashamed of it, though because it’s not me who cheated. It was him who broke his vows over and over and over again for all those years that we were together.
But I stayed. Even if he was silently disrespectful to me by cheating, I still chose to stay. You know when you live in the past, the family is everything. Your mother will tell you – “Katarina, you have to do everything to keep Ricardo in your arms. If he cheats, it is your fault. You have to bear all the consequences of the situation, Kata. This is the role of a woman in any marriage.” What a backward way to think, I know. Too bad for me, I believed my mother of that pitiful thinking until I realized that it was false.
I was on self-pity mode, and I am pretty sure now that I was in a state of depression back then when Ricardo left me. I cried day and night. My whole room was a mess, and I stink for not taking a bath three or four days at a time. I didn’t dare to get up and seize the day. My only daughter lived states away, and Ricardo was telling me I had to leave the house. They found a loop, and he is saying that I can’t have the house or any part of his business. I believed him. It was the “stupid” in me that failed to fight for my right.
Parents and loved ones can help the healing process by returning with new compassion to that moment: “I’m so sorry I was taken by surprise. I just want you to know that I love you and I understand that there’s something going on for you.” — Robyn E. Brickel, M.A., LMFT
“Who does he think he is?” Rita, Ricardo’s sister, told me on a phone call days after he left me. “Kata, I will go there, and we will give this brother of mine the spanking he deserves. He will NOT leave you broke and penniless. After everything you sacrificed for him and Kasey? This is what he does to you? No!!! Our mother, God bless her soul, would roll over her grave if she witnessed Ricky acting like this and making you suffer. You know how much she loved you, right?” It was such a relief that my sister in law was supportive of me and is willing to assist me.
And so, Rita came and slapped her brother. He was so afraid of her that Ricardo asked for forgiveness and called up an attorney to draft what he was going to “share” to me. Of course, the attorney came in haste since Ricky had the money to pay for it. All the while, Rita was there watching and waiting. Rita made Ricardo award one million dollars to me and his condo. I know he had a couple more properties, but I didn’t care about it. Rita has helped me a lot with this, and from there, I can go on with my life even if it is a life without Ricardo in it.
I still love him after everything. And while I bask on the money he gave me, I live frugally. I bought a small building with five rooms for rent, and that’s how I make my monthly living. I also pursued my love for baking, which was my therapy during those downtimes. I posted the goods online through social media apps and sold them in the mall too.
The most essential tool for any kind of personal change is awareness. With awareness, we can begin to learn how to make the best choices for ourselves. — Genevieve Gellert, LSW
My life is simple, but at least, I am happy. You don’t need a partner or a spouse to be complete. All you need is yourself and that belief that you can do it even if you’re on your own. (But of course, I was lucky to have Rita!)