Today I’m starting a very special series. Why is it special? It’s special because my guest is a gentleman called Carlos Phillips. This is only the second interview I’ve done with a man about life after divorce but when Carlos contacted me, I knew I had to grab this opportunity. Following his divorce, Carlos wrote a book, Healed Without Scars because as he says there are lots of books about life after divorce for women and there are lots of divorce books written by women but there are very few written by men or even targeted at men. He has also started the Healed Without Scars Ministries. So listen up …
Carlos had been married for seven years when he got divorced in 2000. He has two sons who were just six and two at the time. When I asked him what he saw as his greatest accomplishment in the ten years since his divorce, he didn’t say writing his book or starting his ministry or even being the primary custodial parent. For Carlos, his greatest accomplishment was learning about forgiveness. Here’s Carlos:
I believe honestly, when I look back at these ten years since the divorce was final, I think one of the most significant accomplishments has been really understanding and grasping the concept of complete forgiveness towards my ex spouse and anyone else who needs forgiveness. That’s really been a major accomplishment for me and my family.
I thought I had the forgiveness thing down. I really did, but later on, as the years went by I realized that I really still had quite a bit of animosity towards the whole situation and towards my ex wife. I didn’t realize that until certain situations would arise and I would find myself being angry all over again at her and the situation and the pain that the boys were going through. I had to get to a place of completely letting that go, completely forgiving her, completely forgiving myself, and moving on with life and realizing that these things happen, there’s no need to hold any grudges, it’s just trying to move forward.
I think the one thing that triggered my anger the most early on was the holidays. I remember especially the first holiday, that was the first time I hadn’t been with my sons, and so my sons were in one place and I was in another place and it was absolutely miserable to have to spend the holiday without them. So thinking back to everything that led up to me being alone for the holidays brought those feelings to the surface again and I realized then that I hadn’t completely forgiven her for that.
But it’s not just forgiving your ex-spouse. You have to let yourself go too. You have to forgive yourself. You’re only human, you make mistakes and once you are able to do that and say
“I did what I did based on who I was as that person at that time, but now that I know better, and now that I’m wiser, now that I know the consequences, I’m going to do better, I’m going to forgive myself”
It’s going to get easier to forgive others.
The Divorce Coach Says
I firmly believe that what Carlos says here is fundamental to being at peace with yourself after divorce. It’s not just about letting go of any resentment you feel towards your ex, it’s also about letting go of any resentment you feel towards yourself. It’s about accepting that divorce isn’t a failure.
For a long time after I was separated, I was very angry with myself, angry for avoiding our problem issues for so long, wondering if I had confronted them earlier if we would still be married. They were ‘what-ifs’ with no answers other than, ‘it would have been different.’ I also felt that I had failed at marriage. As I came to embrace a different perspective about divorce, it was easier for me to see that this is just part of my life’s journey. And just as Carlos says, that helped me to forgive myself. For me though, it was easier to forgive my ex for his part than it was to forgive myself.
Forgiveness however, is not easy and it’s not easy. In the next segment, Carlos talks about how he found complete forgiveness.
Have you forgiven your ex? Have you forgiven yourself? Which was harder for you?
Photo credit: cheerfulmonk