Today I spoke with a new client whose spouse served divorce papers without any warning. Just like in the movies, a man came to the door, door was answered, papers served, door slammed shut. I didn’t think that really happened. I continue to be shocked by the stories of treachery and deceit that I hear related to divorce. Enough that the life you expected to lead is no longer viable, now you have to deal with blow after blow from an angry, vengeful, mean spouse.
I can continue writing about the horrible stories but how would that serve me? And that’s the point. What I am even more amazed about, is how resilient people are in the face of such adversity, how they are able to shield their children from a lying, cheating spouse and encourage them to love and spend time with that very spouse just to protect their children. I’m in awe of the person who can suffer through a devastating divorce and a few years later, talk about it in the past, now a content, vibrant, thriving person.
Meeting those people who have bounced back give me fuel to continue doing what I do. When I meet someone who is completely defeated and feels there is no future for them-they’re lost in regret, still in love with their soon-to-be ex spouse, overwhelmed by the devastation that this path seems to cause-I tell them they will be better for it, that life will be more amazing than they ever imagined it could be, sometimes there’s a little glimmer in their eyes and I seize that!
That’s the tiny bit of hope that the person that once was happy and excited to embark on a new life with this partner will find that feeling again with someone or something new. They will find a new strength they never knew they had and a life they never thought possible. They will see all that they couldn’t have achieved in the life they were leading.
I know you’re thinking, that might be someone else’s story but it’s certainly not mine. I beg to differ! You are that person who gets through this period and comes out even better. How can I possibly do that? Here are a few ideas:
- Give yourself credit-For every day that you get up and get out of bed, for every time you pretend to the kids that you’re happy, for every day that you play ‘poker face’ when your ex comes to pick up the kids-pat yourself on the back and give yourself a reward!
- Remember a time when you overcame something you never thought you could-Maybe it was that date who stood you up or the job you didn’t get-now you have to look for those moments because they are so far behind you, you can’t even remember them.
- Think of the opportunities you have now-Did you marry young and never really date? Now you can meet all sorts of new people (okay they’re not all George Clooney but at least you can try). Did you spend so much time trying to fix your marriage that you never had time to take care of yourself? Now you get free time when the kids are with your ex.
- When the going gets tough-yup, the tough get going! Walk, run, jump, dance-whatever gets your energy up and unfocused. Put the music up and move!! Nothing like some positive energy to get rid of negative emotions.
- Give yourself one small goal today that you think you can accomplish. Call a friend for a coffee, enroll in a class, go to a movie on your own. Whatever challenges you. Don’t make it too big, just something that you’ll look back at in the future and say, ‘did I really do that?’-yes, you did!
Don’t get me wrong, there is no fairy tale divorce. The path is typically long and fraught with pain and suffering. At the same time, with each horrible day that you get through, you can say to yourself- “Wow, I didn’t think I’d get through that-but I did”. It’s the little bite size successes. My therapist has a great saying, “one snowflake at a time”. Give yourself credit for each snowflake and believe it or not, sooner or later it will be snowing all around you!