I want to share with you something sweet that happened to me tonight. Today was my ex mother in law’s birthday and she came all the way out to New York City to celebrate it with me. I know I have a better relationship with my ex in laws than some people do with their current in laws.
Some background on our relationship – my ex in laws and I are from different cultures and countries. Their culture is known to be more conservative. We also have language differences. For more than a year, my ex never introduced me to his parents because he thought they wouldn’t approve of our relationship. When he finally did, I sought to win them over – not by being overly nice but by treating the way I would want to be treated – with respect and kindness. I included them in our lives – even till this day, my daughter and I FaceTime with them a few times a week and I make sure she has a good relationship with them. Over time of course, we’ve built a relationship based on mutual understanding and love for each other. It hasn’t always been easy because of our language and culture differences and it was especially hard when I found out their son had been cheating on me.
My ex in laws live about a half hour drive (without traffic) from where I live but New York City is notorious for bad commuter traffic during the evening rush hours. And tonight was also the Rockefeller tree lighting ceremony so the city was teeming with tourists and all sorts of activity. My ex in laws hate coming out to New York City because they hate the crowds and it is difficult finding street parking.
My ex husband actually came to pick up my daughter to have dinner with his parents without me earlier in the evening. For some reason, he just didn’t want me around tonight. So it says a lot that my ex in laws would make the effort to come all the way out to the city after that to celebrate the birthday with me (my ex didn’t come along). And our positive relationship is only because I have demonstrated that I still respect and love them and want my daughter to have a good relationship with them, even though their son had treated me like crap.
Why is this relevant to you? Because your bad experience should never define you.
Sometimes when something bad happens to you, it is easy to think you have to change yourself to become a bitter, nasty person to protect yourself. I’m not saying you should ignore future red flags. You shouldn’t. But you shouldn’t let this bad experience define your whole life and become a bad person because of this.
I could have chosen to eke revenge on my ex in laws making it difficult for them to see their grand daughter or treating them with disrespect because of how their son had treated me. And believe me – there were bumps along the way in my relationship with my ex in laws – mostly because I was aggravated by something their son did and thought they were defending him and working against me. But I chose not to be that negative person. Because in the end that’s not me. And it would ruin my inner peace.
Continue being you. But be a wiser you. That is the first step to living well – live authentically according to your terms.