This week was the first anniversary of my divorce, another one of those significant milestones. How different my life is now compared to a year ago, I feel like a different person. I feel like I walked away from a massive car accident unscathed but when I look back at the carnage I’m surprised to still be standing.
When things don’t turn out the way we planned, we start to think of them as mistakes. Because it somehow makes it easier to just regret the action in the first place.
Was my biggest mistake my marriage?
What most people would expect me to say is “of course it was a mistake!”, “of course it was a waste of 30 years of my life!”
But I have a different take on it because the one thing I know for sure is that my greatest lessons have come from perceived “mistakes”. Without these mistakes there are a lot of things I would not have experienced, learnt and done.
And more important I would not have my children who are the most important people in my life. How can that be a mistake?
Mistakes are a vital part of growing as a person.
When I first separated I attended a weekend Buddhist teaching on The Four Noble Truths in London, trying to prepare myself for my trip to Nepal.
At one point the monk started talking about compassion and how important it is to be a compassionate person. I remember thinking at the time “I don’t think I will ever be able to be compassionate towards him (my ex)”
The anger was too deep (so I thought), how would I ever be able to be compassionate to him?
I asked the monk, “how can I be compassionate to someone who deliberately hurt me?”
He just looked at me, in complete stillness and said “you use him as your teacher, you have an amazing opportunity to learn compassion” Not what I wanted to hear but I knew then as I do now, he was right.
And so I began to do just that. Step by step I started to show compassion towards my ex. Hard as it may sound and believe me at times it was impossible but as I started to practice compassion towards him, there was a sense of release for me.
Compassion towards those that hurt you is actually the best form of self compassion.
What is my biggest mistake then?
The biggest mistake is not making any
Well that is simple. The biggest mistake I ever made was trying to avoid mistakes. Playing it safe, protecting what I thought was mine, or going to be my story forever.
When you realise that everything changes, what was true to me when I was in my twenties was not true to me 10 years later and definitely not 30 years later.
The choices you make when you are young may not be right for you down the line. That’s not a mistake, it’s a fact of life.