I’m often complemented on my positive attitude about everything that happened to me.
It hasn’t always been that way.
I was angry. Furious that the person I trusted most in this world betrayed me in the most horrific ways, causing me to lose everything I held sacred. I cursed him. I dreamed violent dreams. I wanted to cause him pain. I lived in a perpetual state of fury with all flames directed at him.
I was bitter. Resentful that I made choices about my schooling and career based on him and then he abandoned me. I focused on the unfairness of the sacrifices I had made for the marriage and for him that he spit upon with his actions.
I was jealous. Envious of others whose spouses stayed faithful or at least stayed around long enough to talk. I compared my situation to others’ and bemoaned my particular tale.
I was ashamed. Embarrassed that his deceptions went on for years and I did not see them. I questioned myself endlessly and doubted myself constantly.
I was victimized. I saw myself as hapless prey caught in his crosshairs. I focused on what was done to me, keeping myself at the center of his choices.
My attitude couldn’t do anything to change the past. Being angry wouldn’t make him apologize. Being bitter wouldn’t open up new careers. Being jealous wouldn’t make my ex suddenly faithful and honest. Being ashamed wouldn’t make me pick up on the lies any earlier. And being a victim wouldn’t help me learn how to thrive.
I had no control over the past. No way to change what happened. But I could change how I responded to it.
So, slowly, ever so slowly, I did.
I let go of the negativity that was still holding me hostage. It was not an easy road. It took hundreds of miles running on the trails and hundreds of hours on the yoga mat. It took writing a book and writing a blog. It took therapy and friends. It took a new dog and a new love. And, most importantly, it took time.
The truth is that I still feel those negative emotions towards him and what happened. Some days more than others. The difference is that now I don’t allow them to move in. They visit and go on, leaving room for laughter again.
It never ceases to amaze me how much of a difference attitude can make. I recently found myself complaining about my Sunday chore of cooking for the week. I was feeling bogged down and tired of the weekly planning, shopping and cooking that takes up a sizable portion of my weekend. I realized that I was viewing this as part of my work week; I was allowing it to steal several hours of my weekend. Then, I decided that was not okay.
I can’t change my need to cook. It is a necessity for my health, my job schedule and my budget.
So I changed my attitude. For the last few weeks, I have approached my weekly cooking task as though I was making preparations for a dinner party. It makes menu planning more interesting and keeps me in a good place while shopping. As for the cooking? Well, that’s now the best part. I first take some time to prepare some veggies, cracker and hummus and arrange them on a plate where I can nibble while I work. Then, I crank up the tunes – they vary according to the mood of the day and can run from bagpipes to death metal. Finally, I pour a glass of Cabernet to sip on while I chop up the endless pile of veggies.
Sunday cooking has gone from a chore to something I actually look forward to.
And all because I changed my attitude.