This advice is not for everyone.
I am simply sharing a piece of my experience below. I am in a good place in life right now and I am walking out of the storm. I share this with you to give you hope or some perspective if you are going through a difficult season. A year ago, I wrote, Should We Celebrate Divorce? all about what not to say to someone going through a divorce. Now, I will share with you some of the hard lessons that I have learned these past 18 months. Hopefully, your journey will be a smoother ride. And if not, you will least feel a little less alone and a little more understood.
You will never be able to please everyone, and if you are going through a divorce or a hard time- I assure you that people will have their opinions. Some will be for you and some against you. It is important to learn to be okay with being a disappointment in other’s eyes. The truth is, at times, I have been that same person; the one with high expectations, or strong views. However, through this experience, I have learned that unless I understand the dimensions of a particular situation, unless my opinion is sought after, and unless I am filled with love in my heart and accept that my views are not fact- that those views can actually be more hurtful than helpful. Let go of what others “think,” or what you think they think.
This is a tricky one, and where grace comes into the picture. Sometimes when we are going through a difficult time, our people don’t know how to be there for us in the way that we receive support. We don’t know how to ask for what it is we actually need (if we even know). You may feel isolated or you may find support in the most unlikely of places. When I went through my divorce, I joined a support group that I would highly recommend through Divorce Care.
Dealing with the EX.
I have found that communication, reconciliation and boundaries are essential when dealing with my ex. Finding a way to communicate isn’t always an easy feat. For us, we discuss hard (and soft) topics through email, and keep things as civil as possible face to face. This allows us time to respond and protects our littles from any animosity between us (besides, if you have a more contentious separation this can be a great paper trail.) Reconciliation doesn’t mean getting back together, or being friends. But, we are co-parents so we have reconciled by accepting what is and trying to let go of what was. We have been working hard on creating healthier boundaries between us. This takes time and a lot of flexibility. We have hurt each other and we have fought, but being amicable and raising happy humans is OUR goal, which has meant letting A LOT of things go by both parties. Which brings me to…
Being the Bad Guy.
People want a bad guy and a victim. Heck, I want that too. But life is messy and people are imperfect. There isn’t always a “reason” that things fall apart or a catalyst for the end of a marriage. In many cases, however, it is easy to point fingers and pass blame (on both sides.) At the end of the day, there is no real point to any of this. It doesn’t fix anything. It is a better use of your time to look at yourself, see your own faults and work on those things- the things you actually have control over. Even in the worst kinds of relationships (abusive, addictive, adulterous, etc.…), it might be helpful to evaluate why you may have been attracted to that sort of personality type to prevent it in the future. When going through a divorce, you may be labeled at one point or another as the “bad guy.” You don’t have to own it or acknowledge it. The only thing you can do is forgive- yourself, your ex and maybe a few “labelers” along the way.
Being “Okay” or, Better Than Okay.
Finally, I want to say that my divorce was a blessing for both of us and for our children. This is not something you are “suppose” to say. Marriage is holy, but a toxic marriage is the opposite. I have scoured the internet to only find condemnation at every corner. In my Christian community, my divorce has been a scarlet letter. I have had to find peace between myself and the God that I believe in. I don’t advocate for divorce, but I have learned in this past year and a half that I have to live my life based on what is wise for me and my children. I can still do that rooted in faith, even when it is not popular opinion.
Expect the Unexpected. There are so many variables with divorce. and you will find hardship where you may not have expected it. But, there can also be a lot of sunshine and warmth during the storm. I know that there are still many more amazing moments yet to come, and that gives me the strength that I need during the darker hours. If you are going through a divorce, keep heart. It will get better, and may just be an answer to a prayer you didn’t know you were asking. I end this with a challenge- to simply walk in grace for those that love you, for those you love and most importantly for yourself. If you are going through a divorce or a hard time, let me be the one to tell you that you will be okay. You will get through this. You are strong. You are capable. I am rooting for you.
Check out this post on coping strategies: Life in Transition