Your divorce is not a failure or a mistake. People miss an incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and change for the better when they view their divorce through the lens of failure. A so-called failure is actually a lesson in how not to do something and an invaluable tool for doing things right and in your self-interest in the future.
I am presently immersed in my second reading of a marvelous book entitled The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer. I want to quote a few lines wherein the author, in attempting to write a book, discovers something powerful:
"Above all, I suffered from a naive view that writing should be easy. I thought words were to come unbidden. The idea that errors were stepping stones to truth never occurred to me, because I absorbed the ethos that errors were nasty little things to be avoided, and misapplied that ethos to the novel I was attempting. When I wrote something wrong, I always took it to mean that something was wrong with me, and when something was wrong with me, I lost my nerve, my focus, my will."
Life, like writing, is not easy. Errors are stepping stones to the truth, and the truth is the stepping stone to personal growth, enlightenment, positive forward action, and change for the better. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb among many other inventions, said it perfectly: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Each time he found a way that didn't work, he moved closer to what would work and his eventual triumph. So too with a divorce.
Our divorce holds great wisdom. When we are ready, we can uncover this wisdom, and it will benefit us immensely. In my work as a Divorce Recovery Coach, I am constantly amazed at the impact of these revelations on my clients' lives. Time and time again, what initially looked like failure or a misstep reveals itself to be a powerful tool for both their recovery from the pain of divorce as well as a guide to moving forward in life.
Let me give you an example. Upon examination, Sara came to see that from the very beginning of her relationship with her husband, she had deep misgivings. She knew in her gut that things were not quite right, and yet she went ahead and got married. Throughout her marriage, the signs were there, and yet she chose not to confront them. When her marriage ended, she was devastated. After a time and much reflection, she came to see that she had not trusted her own intuition. Sarah did not trust herself and never had. The greatest gift she received from her divorce was to learn to honor her own inner wisdom and intuition. She learned to trust herself and thereby gained the self-respect and confidence that she desperately wanted and needed.
Do you remember our parents telling us to do as I say and not as I do? Did that work? Probably not. We learn best when we experience things for ourselves. It is the best way to teach children: learning by doing. Unfortunately, this means that more often than not, we do not absorb a lesson until we have experienced it directly. It takes a crisis, a good smack on the head, to awaken us. Then, if we choose to use the crisis as a learning tool, that learning will become imbedded in our psyche.
Your divorce, like most of life's experiences, will be a wasted opportunity to be a better and happier person if you do not use it as such. As the writer William Saroyan said: "Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure."
Look at your marriage and divorce and be brutally honest with yourself. Drop your self-righteous positions and your need to be right, so that you can discover the truths and gifts of your divorce. Don't miss out on these life lessons. Take these truths and search for the lessons that are waiting for you. I guarantee that what you will learn about yourself are not necessarily indigenous to just your marriage. They are probably related to the emotional baggage you have carried around for a very long time. We now get to address those things that have been obstacles throughout our lives.
I always hated the adage that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Too damn corny, right? Yet in this case, it fits.
Shelley Stile is a professionally trained Divorce Recovery Life Coach who specializes in working with women. She is a member of the International Speaker's Forum and the International Coaches Federation, the governing body for Life Coaching. Shelley trained with the Coaches Training Institute and the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching's Spiritual Divorce Recovery. You can learn more about Life Coaching for Divorce Recovery at www.changecoachshelley.com.