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Is it crazy to stay friends with your ex?

what-we-see-lubbockIt's been nearly 8 years since my divorce was final…and closer to 10 years since Dan and I decided to separate.  Last night, he was in town from New Jersey, where he is a sports analyst for Major League Baseball.  We had a hilarious conversation about the women he has dated recently and he actually had me laughing out-loud at his stories.  He really is a great story teller. 

Some people might think it’s crazy to have a friendship with your ex-husband.  I didn’t always feel friendly towards him in fact, I once found myself so angry at him in our garage, that for just a brief moment, I wanted to hit him with a snow shovel!  I was so angry I couldn’t see straight and I didn’t care who heard me yelling. Not my kids or their friends or my neighbors who were out in their yards.  Once I calmed down…I remember looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a woman I didn’t recognize. 

I knew in that moment that things had to change and they did, dramatically.  I spent 18 years married to Dan, a professional athlete and we lived a life that looked like we had it all.  He played for seven major league teams during that time and it was a tough way to be married and I struggled with many parts of it.  We were living the dream, but it wasn’t my dream…it was his.  As I’ve healed from my divorce, I can focus on all of the good things we had, the great charity work we were privileged to be a part of… and the two amazing and beautiful daughters we brought in to this world.  Dan is now my friend and I believe that what we see depends mainly on what we look for. 

Although baseball has provided me with a pretty nice life, my life wasn’t always easy.  When I grew up, I lived through a series of disappointments.  I had a wonderful mom and four siblings…and a dad who wasn’t really around very much.  I learned of his first affair when I was at cheerleading practice in 8th grade.  My friend told me she had seen my dad at the movies, but he wasn’t with my mom.  I remember that moment so vividly. 

When I was 16, our family was struggling financially and my dad’s business was not doing well.  My Mom was always trying to save their business from financial disaster. On Christmas in 1980, my dad didn’t make payroll and his employees walked out on his commercial cleaning service.  My brothers and sister and I went to the bank buildings near our hometown to clean them so my dad wouldn't lose the account.  I remember emptying a garbage can from under a bank teller’s station and vowing that my life would be different.  We went home when the bank was clean and my mom had made Christmas dinner, spaghetti with Ragu…and there were no gifts under our tree.  We joked about the best Christmas gifts we never got…but inside I felt shame and embarrassment. Looking back on this incident and other disappointments in my life, it has helped me to be determined and work hard and notice when people around me needed help.  I believe that what we see depends mainly on what we look for.

As I’ve lived my life and faced my share of challenges, I choose to focus on growth and life’s lessons in adversity and what is good and meaningful in my life. As a Life Coach, I often ask my clients facing challenges “what is perfect about this situation?” 

With my Ex, it is perfect that we have shown our daughters that we care enough about each other to maintain a friendship that works in its own unique way.  I choose to see the friendship and love that created the two incredible young women that we share.

With my family, it is perfect that there is a closeness between my siblings and my mom and me that spans the miles as we have all spread out around the country.   I choose to see that we are strong and resilient and that difficulties in our lives don’t have to define us.

Some people may accuse me of being too optimistic.  But I like it that way.  I choose to see trust and hope and possibility in my life.  I teach my daughters that in every moment of pain there is also a chance for growth and love.  I believe that what we see depends mainly on what we look for.

be brave. be wise. be you.