by michele sprague
w r i t e s t y l i n g s
without becoming bitter
Don't go through life carrying an overstuffed suitcase,
spilling over with hurts and disappointments
It’s been eight months since Kathy’s divorce became final. Her main topic of conversation is Ed, her ex-husband. And Kathy finishes each conversation with, “I’m over him.”
But the memory of Ed’s betrayal seems as if it will never leave her. Ed cheated, showed Kathy a picture of the other woman, and told Kathy he never loved her.
Tired of being angry and realizing she needs help with this kettle full of emotions, Kathy started seeing a therapist. She talked and cried, he talked, she cried…
The wrongs that he did
At the end of a session, Kathy’s therapist gave her a homework assignment – make a list of the wrongs Ed did to you.
Fueled by anger, Kathy completed the assignment quickly and was surprised how much Ed hurt her throughout their 16-year marriage. With each item Kathy wrote on the list, she grew angrier.
Wow, there were good times
The following week Kathy read the list to her therapist. He listened, sympathized and told her to put the list in an imaginary suitcase. Then he said it’s time to fill another suitcase.
Kathy asked why one suitcase – crammed with negative, hurtful issues – isn’t enough. The answer – the contents of the second suitcase are going to be different.
Kathy was instructed to make a list of the positive things she shared with Ed, as well as positive things he did for her. No matter how insignificant Ed's behavior – even if she had to grasp at straws to put something on the list – Kathy agreed to do it.
It wasn’t an easy task because Kathy was consumed with anger when it came to Ed, and she blocked out the good memories.
Kathy remembered when Ed took her to botanical gardens, woke in the middle of the night to help her with a computer program, and surprised her with a decorated Christmas tree after she lost her mother.
Bitter be gone
The point of the exercise – don’t go through life carrying one suitcase that is full of hurts and disappointments. Carry two suitcases. One suitcase contains the hurts and disappointments in your life – put a lock on that one if you can. The second suitcase holds your good memories.
This exercise can prevent you from becoming or staying bitter. And it can be applied for hurts and disappointments with anyone – family, friends, co-workers, your past and present significant other…
It’s basically about getting peace, healing your broken heart and ridding yourself of being bitter. You might even be able to salvage some relationships.