Divorce: When Playing Defense Just Isn’t Enough

Love, Self

What I Learned from Watching a Simple Game of Dodgeball

The other day I took my boys to one of those indoor trampoline places to spend the afternoon. They raced over to the dodgeball area and I followed. The referee blew a whistle and kids flocked from every direction to line up for the next game. My boys were put on the same team and happily went to the back corner to discuss their strategy before the game started.

I had just watched the last game and I was proud of them for not running up to aimlessly throw a ball at someone when the new game started. And I was equally proud of them for not hiding in the back like sitting ducks waiting to see if they would get hit by a ball. These boys were going in prepared and they had their game faces on. I could see their confidence from across the court.

The music was loudly thumping, the lights were glaring, and right then I found myself stuck in the moment as something hit me right in the side of my skull. Not a dodgeball, but a blinding thought that I couldn’t keep from penetrating straight to the center of my brain: divorce is just like this game of dodgeball.

What my boys instinctively knew I had somehow missed the first time: you have to plan to play both offense and defense at the same time or you're going to be out before you know it. I didn’t get this during my divorce. I would run up and pointlessly throw something, then run back and hide trying not to get hit by something. I didn’t have a plan.

What I didn’t know then I know with certainty now: you simply cannot get ahead in your divorce if you aren’t looking at both sides at once. You can’t throw an offensive play without continuing to play defense at the same time. If you are not a sports fan I will say it like this: you can’t take a single step forward without watching your back at the same time. And how the heck do you do this when there are multiple players throwing balls from every direction? Exactly, it’s like a crazy game of dodgeball. Only in divorce it’s far from a game.

I couldn’t get the similarity out of my head as I saw it right in front of me. On one side of the court you have your spouse and his entire team and they are just throwing ball after ball at you. On your side you have yourself and your team and you are dodging the balls, trying to pick up the ones that hit the floor, and desperately trying to throw some back.

And what is everyone else thinking about on your team while you’re doing this? They’re thinking about dodging, picking up, and throwing too. So who is really looking out for you, the big picture, and your well-being? Who is planning so that you will come out better, stronger, and fully established on the other side?

I looked back over at my boys and they were still in the game. They had fierce looks of determination on their faces as one would throw, the other would grab a ball from the floor and deflect any balls coming at them. Their plan was working because they were playing offense and defense at the same time as a cohesive unit. The difference between them and the other players was staggering to me. They were unstoppable.

How amazing to be that strong and that confident. Do you think I was that strong and that confident during my divorce? If you spoke to me then you wouldn’t have gotten a logical answer out of me. I didn’t have time to think. I didn’t have time to plan. I didn’t have time to do anything but throw balls, pick them up, and then throw some more. I needed to have someone looking out for me who was by my side. I needed a Certified Divorce Coach. I didn’t have one, but that is why I became one.

This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.