One would think that after spending almost 20 years living in downtown Chicago it would be unlikely that I fall victim to a scam. Not the case. A couple weeks ago, I took my kids to the Cubs game. It was a perfect weather day, we had great seats, the game was nail biting, and the hot dogs delicious. Everyone was happy.
We actually found street parking (which was lucky), and when we got into the car to head home, a man approached the passenger side window. My 14 year-old son rolled it down and the man, who was out of breath held up an inhaler and started frantically telling us this story about how his friend needed him to pick up a prescription for the inhaler, that it was empty, and that she was having a hard time breathing. He said he needed 8 dollars.
My gut instinct was to give him the money, but while I was getting it out of my purse, he told me he really needed $15. It was like I was on autopilot. I handed him the money so fast it was almost comical. My son rolled up the window and said, "Mom, you did a really good thing."
"I think so, too," I replied, just as I was looking in my rear view mirror, realizing I got scammed. The guy was walking down the street really slowly, counting the money. He looked back at our car and then kept walking.
Done. Finished. Screwed. Had. I then got really angry for a minute. "What a jerk!" I said. "I hope he goes to hell!" My son just sighed and said, "Yeah, we just got ripped off."
After a couple minutes (and some deep breaths and positive thoughts) I told my kids that yes, we got ripped off, but let's think of it this way. One, the $15 won't make a difference in our lives, and maybe that guy needed the money for food. Also, I'd rather be scammed than turn someone away who really needed the money.
Here's what noteworthy. There was no reason for me to be angry. Why? Because that man has to live with what he did (and is doing to others like me.) He has that burden upon him. Also, God will deal with his actions. That's why I don't have to. For me to be angry and pissed and regretful and bitter is such a waste. That's not my job. My job is to be smarter and more aware in the future to avoid getting scammed again.
I believe that everyone gets what they deserve. Even though we most likely never see how their life turns out, I truly believe karma always has a way of working things out evenly. Think about the O.J. murder trial. Where is O.J. today? Get my point?
Here is how this applies to divorce anger. When people get divorced, they often feel bitter and angry because they feel like there is no justice, that their settlement and the way things ended up isn't fair.
Maybe it's a guy who doesn't feel like he should have to give his wife half the business he spent two decades building, while she criticized him and never believed in it. Maybe it's a woman whose husband left her for a much younger woman, abandoned the family and is starting a new one. Maybe a man hit his wife and never paid the price for it because the woman couldn't prove it. Or, maybe a woman cheated on her husband and left him brokenhearted and now he has to pay her alimony.
Feeling like there is no justice is really hard on a person. It can consume him or her and make life seem unfair, hopeless and depressing. It can make a person feel like a victim forever. It can make a person bitter and defensive. It can prevent a person from trusting anyone again. And it can cause someone to waste their life focusing on the fact that they got screwed instead of chalking up the loss to a life experience, and moving on to try to have a great future.
It's like the $15. I haven't thought about it since, and the only reason I am thinking about it is to write this post. Now $15 is a lot less of a loss than a divorce or how Ron Goldman's family must have felt, so I'm not comparing myself to those scenarios. But what I'm trying to get across is that if you are upset with your ex, if you feel like he or she got off the hook way to easily, here is why you need to let it go.
Because it's not your job to be angry with him or her, or feel frustrated. That's just putting your energy in the wrong place. Think of it this way. Your ex is making their bed and because they will continue to be the same person in life and in other relationships, things will happen that will be the consequences of their actions. Let others deal with them, let God deal with them, let THEM deal with them (trust me, you have no idea what a person is thinking when he or she looks in the mirror.)
Your job is to focus on YOU, accept what is, be at peace with it, learn from your mistakes, and make decisions that will give you a life you want from this point on.
When I first moved to Chicago 30 years ago, I had my watch lifted off me on the El. Two months later, I had my wallet taken out of my purse on the El. Then there was the inhaler guy. I'm sure I've fallen victim to some other minor crimes, but I can't even remember anymore.
Then there was my divorce. Do I think everything was fair? Nope. But every day I make a choice. I choose to live my life in the now and focus on my goals for the future. There are many times I fall into that pattern of "it's not fair," but the key is to snap out of that immediately. It's almost like a cognitive approach, where you have to tell yourself, "I'm not a victim, I'm letting this go, life isn't always fair, and I'm focusing on today and all the wonderful gifts I am blessed to have."
Try it! Life is so much better without divorce anger and bitterness!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.