For many, the hardest part of divorce is making the actual decision to break up. The months and weeks leading up to that decision seem unbearable. One single night can feel endless.
Those early days of uncoupling often result in a burst of energy, even if the decision to separate was not mutual. This initial momentum shift is rooted in equal parts denial and the tremendous sense of relief that comes from creating distance from prolonged angst and conflict.
But then the comments come flooding in. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and similar to hearing every woman’s personal childbirth stories during the last few weeks of pregnancy, overwhelm can set in.
The moment that friends, family, and acquaintances discover that you are uncoupling, you’ll hear an avalanche of advice, Girlfriend. Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, once said, “Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.” We mere mortals possess a tendency to want to put our personal imprint on someone else’s crisis.
Giving advice is cheap and easy because it affords the Giver an opportunity for a “re-do” of their own past mistakes and failures. But receiving endless, conflicting input from others will only cause you to doubt yourself and experience fear and anxiety about your decision to separate and/or divorce.
Remember this—plain and simple, Girlfriend, your divorce is YOUR divorce, and although support is crucial and beneficial, there are going to be stretches of your suddenly single path you simply must walk alone.
3 Words That Will Help You Thrive Post-Divorce
When you are actively doing your solo gig, it helps to consider one simple phrase;
“I chose him (or her).”
In nearly every case it is absolutely, unequivocally true, you picked him—unless of course, you entered into a forced marriage (a practice which is still common throughout parts of South Asia and Africa.) Remembering that you entered your failed relationship by choice is essential, because the greatest power you possess lies within your power to choose.
The sooner you internalize this, Girlfriend, the sooner you claim personal responsibility for your past choices and more importantly, acknowledge that your greatest potential lies in your power to make all of your FUTURE choices, unencumbered by the influence of anyone else.
All too often, my new clients talk about their breakup from the perspective of being a victim, as in, “How could this happen to me?” It is perfectly okay to engage in this sort of self-pity for a bit. It is indeed necessary to grieve what is being lost. The trouble starts when one decides to live in victim mode indefinitely.
When I first became separated, I identified with the role of victim, straight away. I perfected it! I gave an Oscar-winning victim performance, day in and day out. I had been wronged (that was my script). I cried to sad breakup songs and soaked my pillow with tears night after night.
That is until I realized that clinging to my “right” to be wronged was actually poisoning me. Victim mode sapped me of every ounce of energy necessary to move forward. Worst of all, it kept me “attached” to my HasBeen, both mentally and emotionally. I knew this could not continue if I wanted to move forward and embrace a fulfilling life of radical personal growth as a Single Bad Ass. So, from that moment forward, I abandoned any notion of being helpless.
On the contrary, I realized that I was in complete control in a way I had not been for a very. Long. Time. My mantra became, “I am woman! Hear me ROAR!”
But soon grief silenced my roar.
Then anger joined in. Both had their way with me. Without my old friend, Victim Mode to deflect my feelings, I was forced to ride out that grief and anger hailstorm, alone. To say that it sucked would be an understatement.
Ultimately, I embraced the realization that I chose him and the moment I did, that phrase became the first, most stable brick in the new foundation that I would construct for my suddenly single self.
Later, I stumbled across this quote by William H Murray, a fearless Scottish mountaineer, and author;
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
there is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself,
then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents,
meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now.”
Girlfriend, once again, my point is this—you chose him (or her).
Own that reality. you listen to your gut and do what you need to do to heal and move forward in a way that is less likely to mess you up or mess up your kids, you will be rewarded with signs that positively reinforce your tough decisions along the way.
For me, one such sign came during a volunteer vacation to Charleston, SC. Upon entering my room, I found a notecard placed on my pillow, courtesy of the hotel. Just beneath the weather projections for the upcoming weekend were the words of Dr. Seuss;
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
That was all I needed to hear to know I was on the path to healing. I was at choice. I was in control of my own destiny.
Girl, you’ve got this! Embrace your suddenly single life.
Every past experience with adversity has brought you here to this moment in time, fully equipped to handle whatever comes your way.
You’ve got what it takes. Start by claiming those three words.
I chose him.
I am here to see you through to the other side—to live a life of feeling FAR less alone than you ever felt within the boundaries of any of your past failed relationships.
Amy is committed to helping individuals build resilience and improve their quality of life as they journey through difficult life transitions, empowering them to return to the basic components of sound mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health in order to achieve whole wellness and experience healthy, fulfilling intimate relationships post-separation/divorce. www.amyellowitz.com