Sara Woodard-Ortiz began writing her blog The HeartFull Journey after going through a painful divorce two years ago. Below, Woodard-Ortiz, who lives in Illinois with her three-year-old daughter, writes a letter of unexpected gratitude to the ex-husband who left her.
I used to call you names behind your back after our divorce. The pain I felt after I found out you betrayed me was like no other pain I had experienced before. It ruined not only our marriage, but my self-confidence and my hopes and dreams for the future.
And yet, over the past two years this pain has slowly receded. Surprisingly, it has been replaced with gratitude. Only in the last six months have I been able to fully realize the plethora of reasons I have to thank you. The following are a few of my favorites:
I am eternally thankful that you provided the other half of our daughter’s DNA. Last Father’s Day, I sent you a text that said, “Happy Father’s Day. Even though we are no longer together I’m thankful we were together long enough to have Olivia. I will always be grateful to you for that.” I still mean every word of that text. Olivia is my whole life. I know she is your whole life as well. Together, we made one great tiny human. I quite literally could not have done it without you.
Thank you for cutting up my food so I could eat with one hand while breastfeeding our daughter. I remember posting about this on Facebook and mentioned that it was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. You cutting my food into bite-sized pieces while I breastfed our daughter still commands first place in my book. That’s one of my favorite memories of our marriage.
Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of love and marriage. My favorite quote is “Marriage isn’t 50/50. Divorce is 50/50. Marriage has to be 100/100. It’s not about dividing everything but giving everything you’ve got.” I would never have understood the true meaning of love, marriage and commitment without our own rocky relationship and crashing end.
Thank you for giving me a second chance at happiness. Surprisingly, divorce is a great catalyst for reflection and self-improvement. I have learned so much about myself since we separated two years ago. I’ve learned that I am capable of enduring far more than I thought possible. I’ve learned how to love myself and how great it feels to be single. I’ve learned that love isn’t a fairytale. I believe all these lessons will eventually lead me to a wonderful and fulfilling relationship in the future.
I used to call you names after our divorce. That was before I realized how much there is to thank you for. That’s all for now. I know there will many more opportunities for gratitude in the future.
Thank you for everything.