This year we have known each other for 20 years. This year we can celebrate (or not), the fact that the same stop on the path of our careers created a forever for us that neither could have ever imagined.
As we approach Valentine’s Day in less than a week, and as I reflect on the place love has had in my life, I can only say two words to you.
No, I’m not being sarcastic. I’m not going to say thank you for hurting me because I learned I can emerge from any relationship adversity as a stronger woman. I am going to say thank you, because I learned a lot from you.
In our 20 years of knowing each other, you have given me a lot. Some things I enjoyed, some I could not stand. Some things made me laugh and some things made me post really aloof, yet catty things on social media about you. And while I may not have carried myself with the best amount of decorum in recent years, I still owe you a lot.
- Thank you for showing me the back roads. When we were married, I remember complaining because you did not like to drive on highways. As I was used to rushing from place to place and felt that the side streets would not get me anywhere on time, you simply said, “Sometimes the highways are shut down and you have to get to your destination in a different way than you planned.” One time, you even went on to tell me, “Is it the end that matters Toni, or is it the journey?” Of course, at the time I thought is was the end, but when I look back on the purpose of life I have come to realize everything we learn, everything we appreciate, and everything that makes us grow, happens in the journey, which is sometime different from what we thought it would be.
- Thank you for teaching me how to to investigate. If there’s anything that my girlfriends and I love, it’s the fact that I can investigate anything. You and I learned how to Google together. We used all of the knowledge you learned in police academy about background checks. You taught me how to access public records rather quickly. Honestly sir, I became the go-to person when my friends needed to create their own version of the TV show, Cheaters. I know it’s probably not the best attribute of my personality to be known for, however that thirst for investigation allowed me to teach our children how to question, how to fact-check, and how to pause before believing something that is too good to be true.
- Thank you for being patriotic. Some friends and I were talking one day about the people who have such an innate love for this country that all they are is about service to it. From your involvement with the military to your career in law enforcement, you love the United States of America. You believe in the inalienable rights, and need to protect others based on those rights. Thank you for teaching the kids and me that even though America is not perfect, it is ours.
- Thank you for your love of music. For the years we were together, you would often come home from work and zone out by listening to music. That frustrated me often because we had three kids under the age of 3 and the chaos was loud and messy. Not too long after we separated, though, I found myself cultivating my own iTunes account with pride and joy because I learned that I needed to appreciate every opportunity that I had to be still and listen. Music gives me the opportunity to bask in reflection, peace, and vulnerability like I never have before.
- Thank you for living your calling. When I was 16, I knew I wanted to become a writer. After I graduated from college, I followed a path that led to me doing a lot of different things related to my career. It took me until August of 2015 to meet my calling and accept it’s presence in my life. You knew you wanted to be a police officer when you were a little boy. You can now celebrate a career just shy of 25 years in law enforcement. Where the kids have seen my creative struggles and triumphs in jobs I’ve had that weren’t a part of my calling, they have seen your dedication to the police shield like none other.
- Thank you for trusting me. As we embarked on the process of ending our marriage, we never had an argument about the custody of our children. I can remember you saying, “It only makes sense for you take the kids, you know more about schools and homework and college preparation than I ever could.” Many marriages end up in vicious court battles because of egos and the desire to win. I am convinced that ours was as good as it could have been because you trusted me to make the best day to day decisions as it relates to the kids. I want you to know that I don’t take that trust for granted.
- Thank you for sharing, not hiding, your love language. A friend gave us Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages as a gift. To be perfectly honest, when I first read the book, I identified your love language, and decided that I hated it. While it sounds harsh, I am grateful for the opportunity to know and study your love language first hand — even if I didn’t like what it revealed. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, this whole dating thing over 40 is tricky, and often clothed with a lot of smoke and glass. In the seven years we’ve been apart, one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with is trying to figure out the truth and what lies at the core of someone I am dating. You never hid who you were and what was important to you in a relationship. Thank you for that.
When I sat down to write this letter, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say. The only lingering thought I had was to be honest. As with many who reflect on a previous marriage, feelings of anger and resentment crept and I just didn’t know how to combat that. While we’ve never had a contentious relationship, I think it’s safe to say we would not actively seek out the opportunity to spend time together.
As we travel through life and visit places we never thought we’d go, it’s fair to accept and understand that we don’t have to be in love with an experience to learn and grow from it. That lesson is probably the best lesson I could gain from the last 20 years. Thank you for who you are and thank you for just being you.
And as you and I both know, we came together in the name of total greatness three times, and those gifts are called CJ, Tyra, and Jada. Happy Valentine’s Day.
49 thoughts on “Dear Former Husband”
I love this and I love you. It’s been a honor to be on this journey with you! Im proud of who you are, how you’ve healed and where you’re headed. xoxo
What a great twist on how one might look at things with an ex. You took a great positive spin on it, which is fabulous!
Karen | GlamKaren.com
This is one of the most mature things I’ve read in a long time. Way to go Toni.
What a great post. Isn’t it funny the things you learn from people? My fiance teaches me something new daily. lol
Toni, hear the sincerity in your words here. I hear you looking for and finding the positives of a difficult situation. I see you girl. I see you being mature and lovely. Great job.
Powerful post! Kudos to putting yourself out there. best of luck!
Thank you for being so honest and showing that you still think highly of your ex husband despite your emotions at the time. It takes a lot of courage to say how you feel and I thank you for being true to yourself to keep your children happy x
I commend and respect you for making the best of a situation that most people would always see as bad! I am so touched that you have decided to acknowledge the good and the helpful things about your ex husband instead of forever resenting him or what have you! You are a great example of what so many should desire to do and be in this situation! 🙂
What a fabulous post and such a healthy way of approaching a holiday like this!
What a powerful post! I love your take on things and appreciate your honesty about seeing a past experience as a way to grow in the future!
Wow, you have such an incredible attitude and maturity about your previous marriage. I love your honesty.
Thank you for sharing your story. I often tell people that although he chose another, we co-parent very well together. And the things I learned from the relationship is making me a more aware of what really should be addressed in relationships. I love the letter and so often we (now single moms) don’t know how to communicate with the former husband but you have given us an template as to how we can plan to start.
I wish I could say these things about my x. Its lovely that you can see the good in the bad!
What a great way to have a positive outlook on this! Thank you for sharing!
agreed. so powerful. it is loving and haunting all at once. I hope that you guys can come together and still work together when it comes to raising your children. Happy Valentines Day
I am so glad to read this. So many times exes only have bad things to say after the split. It’s refreshing that you can look back and recognize the positive in your ex since there seem to be plenty of reasons you fell in love in the first place. Thanks for sharing your positivity with others.
I can tell that you’ve made peace with what’s been thrown at you. I admire that.
Love your attitude, these words could only be written by a wise woman!
This is such a beautiful post. I love that you are able to acknowledge the good things that came from your relationship.
You are much more generous with your ex than I am with mine 🙂 I do thank mine for my three beautiful children! That is a for sure.
wow what a gracious heart you have and so happy to hear you had the ‘best kind of divorce’ – one where the both of you thought of what was best for the kids. I feel like I have the same kind with my ex and our daughter – heck we are best buds now! 😉 Keep doing this & you set a beautiful example of what ‘can’ happen & your kids will be so thankful for this 😉
You have clearly emerged from whatever life threw at you a stronger woman. So well written.
I love this…and this the most, “Sometimes the highways are shut down and you have to get to your destination in a different way than you planned.” One time, you even went on to tell me, “Is it the end that matters Toni, or is it the journey?” I am currently going through a divorce right now. I’ve come to realize that it’s better to not have resentment. It makes life easier. It makes life less stressful. And for our daughter’s sake, it makes her life a lot easier as well.
I love you friend! And now, everyone else knows why. I have always admired your receliency and the graceful manner in which you bounce back–always landing on your feet stylelishly adorned in Chucks I have watched you evolve and mature to this joyful space. You own it! Xoxoxoxo #continuetobetheSun
You’re so strong to write your emotions and share with us. The healing journey is long & hard
Very mature and insightful post. I’m glad you guys worked passed the bad times. I hope I am able to be as strong as you are if I am ever in your situation.
I love letter. So beautiful and a great reminder!
Great that you can look on the breakup without bitterness or hatred. It will stand to you and your three children.
Oh wow! This is great to be able to look back and see the good.
What a beautiful and sincere post. What a great way to look back.
Wow, you really are a strong person. This is great, very inspiring.
I love this post. I love that you took the time and opened your heart to think about how you benefitted from your relationship. Even relationships that “end” are opportunities for growth. It is also good for your kids to see that ending a marriage doesn’t mean that there was never love.
That was so emotional and such a good spin on an ex. I like how your post exudes positive energy and spirit.
What an amazing post! I am sure that your kids will appreciate how much worth you put into the relationship. My parents divorced when I was little, and my father dropped out of our lives completely, it was a shock, and caused a lot of damage, but we have moved on now. This seems like a much better way!
What an amazing example you’ve set for your children. Your maturity and insight is to applauded!
What a great way to reflect on your past relationship. I’m sure this post wasn’t easy, but what a great example it sets for others who may be struggling with their former loves. Each relationship we have teaches us something, but a lot of times I think we miss it because we’re too caught up in the hurt we feel. Good for you for being able to recognize what you learned from yours.
I love this and the way you reflected on your previous marriage! It’s so important to remember that everyone serves a purpose in our lives and that we can always learn from the past. I love reflecting on the past and how it’s changed me. Love this post a lot! And Happy Valentine’s Day!
Beautiful! 20 years is such a long time, and it is amazing how much you learn from someone over the years! We take away so much knowledge and experience from every relationship.
Omg I loved this!!!! I was marred once before to and my ex taught me a lot of similar things!
How beautiful that you are able to be in this place with your former husband. Wish you two nothing but joy while co parenting your babies.
This is so sad. Why do relationships end… It’s nice of you to concentrate on a positive impact of your relationship and not on the bitter side of things.
What an honest and beautiful post…I really enjoyed reading it. Not many individuals can identify and appreciate the attributes of their former loves.
Very nice post. I’m sure this was not an easy one to write or to share with the world.
Love this, Toni!!
This is something inspiring for those who have broken up with someone! Relationships might end but there is always something to be positive about.
Wow .. Great testimony for maturity! Love the way you captured the essence of positivity. When I grow up I want to be just like you 🙂 Love the post ❤
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Wow! We gain something from every relationship that we encounter. Regardless of whether the relationship was deemed good or bad, we should learn to collect the positive from it and grow from there!