Friday, February 5, 2010

Shifting Focus: Forget the OW! This is About You

I read a fascinating blog post yesterday about a woman whose husband cheated with – and ultimately left his marriage for – this woman's best friend. The story is heartbreaking. But the story of how this woman, Carolyn, came to a place where she no longer focused on the other woman, despite having to see her every time she dropped her kids off, and instead moved forward with her life is triumphant.
It's not easy. Many of us instinctively lash out at the other woman, heaping our fury, disgust and scorn on her. I dropped off a Christmas card to the OW (she worked for my husband) complete with a family photo and a note thanking her "for all she'd done" and noting that the holidays were a time to "reflect on all we've done over the past year and take stock of how we've contributed to creating a better world..." Biting sarcasm tends to be my preferred method.
Did it work? Did she suddenly acknowledge her role in the mess? Resolve to never again have sex with a married man? I doubt it.
And though it offered me up a measure of satisfaction (It really did. I cannot tell a lie!), it also kept my focus on something I couldn't control (her) rather than something I could (me). 
If you must dump your rage (and sometimes, really, you must – just don't do any illegal, immoral or undignified) on the OW, keep it brief. Then get to the rest of your life, however battered it appears at the moment. Wear an elastic band around your wrist and give it a good "snap" every time thoughts wander to the OW. It can help (really!) if your husband can give you something he hated about her or that was embarrassing for her. She's just a sad woman willing to sell herself short. 
Even if she winds up your spouse, consider these lines from Carolyn: "I also trust in karma. I don’t think she won anything great. I think what she took from me is probably making her life worse and she probably knows it."

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