Divorce Does Not Define You – But How You Behave During Divorce Does

How to handle and react to high levels of stress are critical skills to nurture during the divorce process. How you conduct yourself during divorce WILL define you.

divorce does not define you: couple scream at each other in front of a young man

I think one of the most irritating things I hear is, “Oh, you’re divorced right?" Here's the short answer: “Yes, I am." Depending on my mood I have also been known to add in  “I was Wife Number Two. There’s a number Three, and if I were a betting woman, I would guess there will be a Number Four and possibly Five." For the past seven years, I have been known as “divorced.” It is the adjective, I think, most used to describe me, and it is frequently the next phrase uttered after my first and last names. It’s no one’s fault, but I happen to think we as a society place too much importance on romantic relationships and status. “Are you seeing anyone?” is my most loathed question. It’s second only to, “What do you do?”, which can be equally insulting and invasive. Being pegged as “divorced” tends to overshadow professional accomplishments and personal achievements, parental successes and failures, individual experiences, and adventures. It’s not as fun to ask about that. For some reason, people hang on to the adjective “divorced” and to be honest, I’m absolutely over it. “Divorced” does not necessarily equal: "Lonely, needy, desperate, vengeful, crazy, unhappy, or bitter." Divorce is a transaction. Divorce is a choice. Divorce can be empowering and lead to a happier life. Many times, divorce is a necessary decision to ensure the safety of you and/or your children. Divorce is oftentimes the only choice when you are living what can only be described as a life of chaos and fraud. It is the choice people make when they literally decide that they cannot live like this anymore. There are a million reasons that people get divorced, and whatever the reason is, I am here to tell you that your divorce does not define you – but your behavior during and after certainly does.

Your Divorce Does Not Define You

You are, and will continue to be, the person you were before your divorce. Hell, before you were married. Think about a time when you were single and what you accomplished and how it brought you joy and fulfillment.You are still that person. If you’re thinking about divorce or in the thick of the swamp, it may be really hard to remember who you were and what used to provide excitement and a sense of accomplishment in your life. As hard as it is, try to find it. Hold on to it. Replay that scenario over and over in your mind. Remember every detail, what that felt like, and know that you can and will get there again. How you handle and react to the stresses that are in your life are critical skills right now. How you conduct yourself in this time will define you, and let me tell you, there are a lot of things I look back on and wish I had done differently. If your behavior is driven by anger and malice, leading to poor judgment and perhaps a public airing of grievances, everyone from your ex to your kids to your lawyer, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family will remember you standing in your driveway screaming profanities at your ex for being 15 minutes late returning the children. You don’t want to be that person. Crazy, my friends, is not a good look for you. It doesn’t evoke sympathy or the spirit of cooperation, and it spreads like wildfire.

Your Behavior During Divorce Does Define You

There are ways to channel your emotions and maintain clear-headedness in order to make tough decisions. Just remember: divorce does not define you. It may not be easy, because let me tell you how many times I’ve written and deleted Facebook posts or taken pictures of Venmo requests for $3, literally shaking with anger and ready to spit venom. Those feelings happen, and you need to prepare healthy coping strategies so those negative feelings don't make you cut off your nose to spite your face. When I was overcome with exhaustion and fear and pain, I wish I had had someone to help me think clearly. Coaching during a divorce can be incredibly helpful. It’s not therapy and it’s not anger management; it’s a future-focused plan to equip you with the tools to get to the other side of your decision and back to the person you want to be. Fear of the unknown translates directly into anxiety and stress. My goal as a divorce coach is to empower you with the knowledge you need to take control of your situation and minimize the trauma and emotional upheaval of divorce. The inescapable irony that after complaining about being known as “divorced,” the fact that my business and life’s work are literally associated with divorce is not lost on me. I am, my friends, a deeply flawed individual.  But I’ve learned a lot of lessons, and not the easy way. It is what set me on my path to try to be the person I wish I would have had to turn to. Now it’s my hope that the phrase to describe me after my first and last name is “Divorce Coach” and not just “divorced."

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