If you are in the beginning stages of divorce, you probably read the title of this article and would like to throw something at me. How in the world can I say divorce and gift and courage all in the same title! I know, divorce plunges you deep to your core. It slams you into the reality of your life. You can no longer live in the past or in la la land, dreaming of the future. In fact, you are probably questioning your entire perception of your marriage right now. Divorce brings everything home to you.
But I do have a secret for you and you do need to hear it. Divorce Secret number 3: Divorce is an opportunity to find your real courage, fortitude, and strength. When there is a real fear about the future and the unknown, the courageous understand you must step up and do it anyway.
As a divorce attorney, I couldn't believe the strength my clients had! I was sure I would never be able to raise my kids on my own. I was so grateful I had a marriage that would last forever.
In addition to all the emotional devastation, you are faced with serious money issues, supporting two families on what barely worked for one. Ten years into my marriage, after I left a very secure job with Legal Services to open my own law practice, I found myself in the same position. How was I going to run a business, deal with the humiliation of what he did, and raise the kids on my own? Plus, I had very little money coming in and had gone into $15,000 of debt to start my practice. And I am very aware that by just having a job, I was in a good position compared to many.
While no one ever plans for divorce, there is the reality of 50% divorce rate all around us. Second marriages with children are even more challenging, with a 70% rate. At the beginning, it's rare to see someone who does have the strength and esteem to know that they will in fact get through this. Enter the "gift" of divorce. We learn, over time, that we do in fact have what it takes to get through this and successfully raise children alone.
I went from a blubbering mess, crying on the floor, thinking about killing myself (because that would show him!), to being perfectly competent as a single parent, running my practice, exercising, losing weight on that wonderful divorce diet, and eventually dating. And re-marrying.
Susan Jeffer's book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway becomes the mantra. If you have kids, you know you don't have a choice; you must get out of bed. If it's just you, you might have the luxury of going back to bed after work, but after a few weeks, it's imperative to figure out how to live again. I think counseling, coaching, prayer, journaling, meditating, yoga, Zumba, and moving your body are all positive ways to start to heal and find that well inside yourself where strength and courage lives.
Do you remember the movie Sex and the City, Carrie was to marry Big and he stood her up at the altar? She wanted to know if she would ever laugh again. "Yes," Miranda told her, "when something is really funny." Charlotte pooped in her pants, and Carrie laughed. That is what your girlfriends are for. Don't worry about being such a downer; good friends will be there for you. They will help you laugh again.
Courage, strength, and fortitude take some thinking outside the box. I learned it's best to just start over and create your own rules and rituals with your children. The first year is the hardest. In fact, I have an audio on dealing with divorce during the holidays. If you want it, I'll send it to you for free. Just send me an email, email@example.com.
Remember, this is one of the most difficult things you will ever go through. However, you will get through it and who you are on the other side is a masterpiece of your own creation.
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