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Day 13

The (un-messy) divorce
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Someone just insulted you? Breathe, and let it go. Because it was the monster they saw in their mind they attacked - not you.
All through a drawn-out, angry divorce process and for many years thereafter, Rivky’s former husband and his family harassed her mercilessly.

Rivky yearned to move past the never ending fighting, but her former husband kept it alive. As she began the process of dating, they spread rumors to destroy her reputation.

With all of this, Rivky strove to focus on raising her children, working at her job, and building her relationships with her friends and family. 🎯

Ultimately, Rivky remarried.

A friend who saw her several years after the divorce marveled at her equanimity.

By this time, Rivky was able to attend family simchos without anxiety and communicate cordially with the in-laws who had campaigned so vehemently against her. Parenting arrangements had become smooth and cooperative.

“How did you do it?” the friend asked. “How did you let go of your anger at all of them?”

“I came to the conclusion that they were fighting so hard against me because they really thought I was some kind of monster,” she said.

“If you think your children are living with a dangerous person, of course you’re going to go all out to save them in any way you can.
You’re not worried about decency at that point. It’s like a life-or-death situation.

But I knew I wasn’t a monster.
And now they also know I’m not a monster.”

R’ Nachman of Breslov has a fascinating insight into how to hurtle insults - insults that will lead us, like quicksand, into machlokes.

When we get insulted, our self-defense system springs into action to rescue our inner world from collapse.

And our first course of action is to hit back, escalating the conflict.☹

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov offered a different way to handle an insult.
When one of his chassidim reported to him that someone had spoken disparagingly of him, Rabbi Nachman replied, “It’s not his fault. He wasn’t speaking about me, but about the person he thinks I am. And that person deserves the insult!”

In other words, when someone insults us, we have a choice.
We can choose to think, “Is the other person’s observation valid, or does it simply reflect his own distorted view?”

Is it about us, or about how he sees us at that moment?
He thinks he’s seeing evil or thoughtlessness or selfishness, and he’s responding to it. But if we know his assessment isn’t accurate, we can let ourselves not be triggered.

The power of this one idea to help us handle insults and still live b’shalom is absolutely astonishing!