Rearview mirror

Someone I’d just met was talking about his divorce. Although it had been more than a year, it was obvious that he remained bitter. I tried my best to be patient and listen while he vented. Then he said something that struck a nerve. It was a generalization and rooted in his inability to come to terms with his own personal experience, but that didn’t matter, in the moment. I felt the need to set him straight. If nothing else, he should have been more sensitive to his audience.

The offensive statement was this: “Men always get screwed in divorce. Women make out like bandits.”

Yeah, he actually said that. Out loud. To me.

Before my divorce, I was retired. I owned my own home (and had for 27 years). I drove a brand new, fully loaded SUV. I vacationed often, and ‘roughing it’ meant a camper with heated mattresses and a full kitchen. My now ex husband, by contrast, was still working. He lived in my house and he did drive a nice truck. We shared the camper.

Fast forward nearly two years. I sold my house and am now renting. I have a full time job. I drive an eight-year old car with crank windows. I sleep in a tent on vacation. Him? He retired, bought a house, a brand new truck and a fifth wheel camper.

The disparity couldn’t be more stark. I share this not to garner sympathy because, frankly, I have an amazing life and abhor pity. My point is that one should consider his audience before spewing harsh statements that reflect only his own narrow viewpoint. Perhaps if he looked outside himself, his situation would not appear to be so miserable. You never have to go very far to find someone who is either better off or far worse off than you are. Comparisons do not always serve us well.

Perspective is a lovely gift. It may not negate your own loss, but it certainly shines a light on the shadows of it. I have friends who are fighting terminal illnesses or have children who are. I have friends who have suddenly and tragically lost a loving spouse. My change in lifestyle pales in comparison.

Instead of measuring material things, maybe we should look more closely at the things we cannot always see or touch. I’m pretty sure that I’d win in the happiness category. I don’t mean smiling and having a good time (although I have that, too). What I’m talking about is the satisfaction of living a deliberate life, despite what gets thrown at you. It’s a deeper, more meaningful sense of contentment that flies in the face of physical ‘stuff’ and outward appearances.

Truth be told, I have way more than I need. I couldn’t be happier tooling around town in my little five-speed, doing a job I love. And have you ever heard the sound of rain on a tent while you’re cozy inside, with only the soft glow of a lantern? It’s heavenly.

Not being bogged down with things and the associated responsibilities and obligations that they bring is liberating. There’s time for creative pursuits and learning to indulge in your own peaceful solitude. There is a clarity that shines that light on what’s important.

What I really wanted to say to my new friend was this: Let go of the anger. Have no regrets. Tear off that rear view mirror and live your life in a forward motion. If you want to vent your victimhood with no regard for your audience, get a therapist. Oh, and one more thing…. Good riddance!

10 thoughts on “Rearview mirror

  1. Oh, boy, what a subject! My ex left to go out West to be near his daughter. I didn’t want to go because I wanted to be fairly close to my Dad. My Dad and I had some good years of visiting back and forth. One of the last things my husband said to me was, “I want a divorce, but I’m not paying for it.” He left in a brand new 4×4 with $4K in cash. I was left without transportation with $100 in the bank. However, I was making $40K/yr at the time. I went out and bought another car and divorced him a couple of years later. He had met someone right away. My Dad helped pay for the $2K bill. I got the fully-mortgaged house and we sold some land and split the proceeds.The men I’ve met since didn’t want to hang around. For years, I fantasized about shooting my ex right between the eyes if he ever deigned to show his face, but thank God he never did. Enough years have passed to enable me to forgive him, but in retrospect, I came to fully realize how terribly abusive he was to me. He did me a real favor by leaving, after almost 18 years. I often wonder if he “ruined” my life, but I actively chose him for a mate, figuring he would be around for life, I forgave him his trespasses during our marriage – because I loved him! But I often shudder when I think of the abuse I took from him. My eyes are now wide open, especially after the follow-on experiences I had. I’m off the market – for good! It’s all about me, now!

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  2. Although I haven’t been through divorce I have had a few black clouds through the years. The fact that I am here commenting on your blog is in itself a gift.. I have been blessed with so many gifts over the years I am thankful every day for all I have. One gift I am most thankful for is my friends. They bring the 🌞 on those cloudy days. Indeed measurement of gifts is all in your own interpretation. For me I consider myself rich and oh BTW I will be getting a “new” 10 yr old car this week and I am so grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your perspective is always amazing, Dotti, and I know you have earned it the hard way. Thank you for always sharing it and reminding me what’s important. You are one of my best inspirations. XO

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