Shawna O’Hagan Morrow header image

Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

in Relationships & Family

Almost 20 years ago, I suffered through the worst heartbreak of my life. It was really, really bad.  At that time, I had been dating my now ex-boyfriend for 7 ½ years. I thought we were going to get married and live happily ever after…until I found out he was cheating on me with a much older woman and she was pregnant.  CRASH!  There it was – my life crashing all around me.  I was devastated and humiliated. That was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I can say that now, but it took me some time to get here. I spent months sitting on the edge of my sister’s bed at night crying and asking why. I cried myself to sleep for months.  I prayed.  I thought my life was over…all my plans went down the drain.  Eventually, I came out of my dark bedroom, with my super puffy red eyes, sniffling and I was ready to start living again.

I changed jobs, graduated from college, started dating again (some good, some not too good), and began having fun with my friends again.  It was like trying to peddle a bike from the bottom of the hill.  At first, you can’t peddle at all, but once you get going, you can make it to the top.  Or sometimes you just need to get off the damn bike and walk the damn thing up the hill.  Either way, I made it to the top.

I emerged a changed person.  I wasn’t humiliated or devastated or embarrassed.  I was strong, a little more confident, a lot more “I’m not taking anyone’s shit” and ready to move on.  I learned so much from this experience and I wouldn’t change that.

I learned that I deserved better.  I learned that I shouldn’t settle and I vowed to wait for Mr. Right or Mr. Morrow as it would end up.

I learned that my grandmother was right – she would always say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; God never gives you more than you can handle; and what goes around comes around.  Truer words have never been spoken.

I learned that the universe gives you exactly what you ask for, but it may not happen the way you want it to, but ultimately you get what you ask for.  I used to pray, beg and plead with God to bring that boyfriend back to me but the only thing I could not handle was if he were to have a baby with someone else. Well, you already know how that worked out.  But at that time, it was the only thing that would keep me out of a dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship.   The universe delivered a very clear message to me – STAY AWAY FROM HIM!   And delivered a baby boy to him, but back to my point.  OK, OK, I got it now.

For many years I’ve known that this heartbreak experience was the best thing that ever happened to me.  First and most importantly, I now have the greatest husband I could ever have imagined.  He loves me more than I ever thought possible and he treats me with respect.  He’s everything I’ve ever wanted and he’s made my dreams come true!  I may not have truly appreciated how great Dan is if I hadn’t been through such a bad heartbreak.  But let me tell you, I appreciate him every day.

Second, as Marilyn Monroe said, “Sometimes bad things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.”  

Third, I needed to learn that shit happens in life.  It’s not fair, but I eventually picked myself up and I moved on.

So imagine my surprise when after almost 20 years I got a Facebook message from the woman that my ex-boyfriend cheated with – his now wife.  She wanted me to know that he cheated on her – again, and this time the woman started throwing my name around in that circus.  All I could think was “Oh, HELL NO!”

So first off, I’m not friends with this woman.  She and I used to be friends when she was cheating with my boyfriend, but as you can imagine that friendship dissolved pretty quickly when I found out they were having a relationship on the side.  That’s the nicest way I’ve ever described that situation.  High 5 to me!!  Sorry back to my point…

So my initial reaction was to be pissed off that these crazy people keep trying to drag me back into their dysfunctional dramatic life.  Then, I felt compassion for all of them.  Wow!

That was different.  I truly felt true, honest, heartfelt compassion for her, him and their child.

I feel sorry for my ex that he’s so fundamentally unhappy with himself that he can’t be faithful to anyone.

I feel compassion for her because she thought that she was getting a great guy and was going to have a happy family.  She didn’t get what she wanted and he’s been cheating on her the whole time.

I feel compassion for their son because he is growing up in an unhappy household and doesn’t understand.

I feel free and blissfully happy.  I am so grateful that I’m not living that life and that I made the decision to leave a long time ago.  I’m so grateful that I’m no longer angry, hurt, or sad for what happened or for the loss of my “plans”.  Thank God those plans didn’t work.  I was astonished and impressed that I was able to be compassionate towards her.  I told her I was sorry to hear this and I wished her and her son the peace and happiness that they deserved.

I’m reminded of the Tibetan loving kindness meditation:

May you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be free from suffering.

What I want to share is that life can be hard, it can be rocky at times and you might not be able to see a way that the situation could ever be better.  Dramatic, I know, but we have all had moments where we have thought that.  Everything is happening FOR your benefit.  It’s not happening to you, it’s happening for you.  I didn’t believe that 20 years ago, but as I look at my incredible life, with my amazing husband and wonderful family, I know this is true.   You can find the good things in bad situations.  Sometimes you will have to look really hard, but I’ll bet if you try, you can find one thing to be thankful for.

Good things happen after the rain.  Keep your head up and keep moving forward.  You only need to take one step at a time.  If I can do it, so can you.


p.s. If you’ve ever wondered how gratitude can change your life, I’m offering a free 4-week program starting Monday, November 5th called The Month of Gratitude. Each week, we will focus on a different aspect of how practicing gratitude can change our lives. Click here for more details.


16 comments… add one

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  • Hooda August 27, 2013, 7:02 am

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story with us. So many wonderful reflections. I especially love the nugget, its all happening FOR you not To you.

    • shawna August 27, 2013, 7:04 am

      Thanks Hooda!

  • Mary Ellen Staley August 27, 2013, 8:30 am

    Beautifully written, Shawna. That picture says it all!

    • shawna August 27, 2013, 8:38 am

      Thanks Mary Ellen!!!

  • jen August 27, 2013, 9:12 am

    thank you for sharing this part of your life. dan was worth the wait!! (and you for him!!)

    • shawna August 27, 2013, 9:25 am

      Thanks Jen! He was totally worth the wait!!!

  • Kara O'Brien August 27, 2013, 10:53 am

    Preach!!! Love this story. Totally inspiring to me!

    • shawna August 27, 2013, 11:08 am

      Thanks Kara! If I can do it anyone can!! Everyone and everything in our lives teaches us something. I’m so grateful for this lesson!

  • joanna goodwin August 27, 2013, 12:01 pm

    Wow, Shawna. Your story sounds exactly like my story except I was married to the guy who cheated on me. While he didn’t get the “other woman” pregnant while we were together, they did eventually marry and had babies and as far as I know are living happily ever after. I was completely and utterly devestated when I learned of his affair and it took me a good two plus to function, much less recover. Those two years were grueling but were also a time of much personal growth. Ten plus years later I also look back and thank my lucky stars that life turned out the way it did. I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing man that loves me unconditionally. An added bonus is he is an exceptional father. I look back and realize that my ex and I would have never survived the stress involved with having kids and we would have ended up divorced…with kids in the mix. Life has a way of working out. It may not be the way I had dreamed….but it has made my dreams even better. Marilyn was absolutely correct..sometimes good things do fall apart so better things can fall together 🙂

    • shawna August 27, 2013, 12:17 pm

      Life is so funny the way it works out. I’m a planner so when my “plans” fell apart I didn’t know how to function. And you are so right – the way my life has turned out so far is WAY better than anything I ever had planned! Yay for us not only surviving, but THRIVING!

  • Luci Denhard August 27, 2013, 9:18 pm

    Oh, honey, I remember! And, I’m so sorry! I think we all thought the break up would be temporary. For all those years, that was all we knew…the two of you! I’m so glad you had the strength to move on! So many stay in the trap and it keeps spiraling!
    As I was reading (aka crying/remembering) those years, I kept thinking of the song “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks…. “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers!”

    • shawna August 28, 2013, 7:10 am

      Thanks Lu! It was a tough time, but everything works out for the best! Unanswered Prayers is exactly right!! xoxo

  • Karyn Biddix August 27, 2013, 10:48 pm

    Hey Shawna! How wonderful that you shared your story and even better that you were strong enough to figure all of this out and move on to happiness. The bottom feels like the end, it’s all over, life is short and “mine” is screwed, oh well. But it’s not true, is it? Peaks and valleys…..valleys and peaks…..and faith 🙂

    • shawna August 28, 2013, 7:12 am

      Thanks Karyn! You’re right life is about peaks & valleys. I don’t think we would enjoy the view from the peaks if we didn’t have the valleys to go through to get there.

  • Kristen Callahan September 9, 2013, 11:55 pm

    A wise woman (and officemate) once told me “…Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers…”. I didn’t believe it either at the time, but she was correct – Thanks Shawna

    • shawna September 10, 2013, 6:22 am

      And that was a long time ago my friend! I’m so happy that everything worked out for both of us!