Thursday, November 26, 2009

Divorced During the Holidays

At first I was afraid I was petrified
Kept thinkin’ I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
Thinkin’ how you did me wrong
And I grew strong and I learned how to get along…

Okay. This basically sucks at the beginning. You haven’t figured out what to do when the holidays are not as before. Generally speaking, we don’t like change and this is a whopping one.

You have the kids, you don’t have the kids, you have the kids but not the ex who you miss, you have the kids but not your ex-sister-in-law who you loved like a sister. The list goes on and on. You cook but now there’s no one to appreciate it. He cooked and now the food is like a Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving, no offense intended for those who love said meal.
What to do?

Do what you do to de-stress. Run, yogacize, read a trashy novel, do crossword puzzles, listen to music (the up kind).
Create new rituals. Go out instead of cooking. Cook instead of going to the in-laws (now ex of course). Go away instead of staying home. Stay home instead of going away. You get the idea.
Look good. No look great! It helps.
Accept the new. Just try.  There’s no turning back now. It is what it is. The papers are signed, the moves have taken place. This is your life. Make it a great one.

Remember why you made the choices you made. You decided to do it this way for good reasons. What were those reasons? OR, stuck with a change you didn’t want? Embrace it. It was probably meant to be anyway, wasn’t it?

And you can always try Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Divorced? Wake up and smell the coffee

Launching a new blog is like…well, it’s unlike anything else in my experience. It may be a bit like starting a new research or writing project. You have an idea, but it’s time to make the commitment and get going. So I had the idea for this blog, but how to begin? Gratitude, rage, resilience, hurt, bounce-back, disappointment? And it finally came to me. 

There are three books that have been sitting on my “to-read” shelf for about six years. It’s about the length of time I’ve been separated/divorced. One is by Maxine Kumin called Inside the Halo and Beyond. The Anatomy of a Recovery. It’s about her recovery from a spinal cord injury. Another is John Bayley’s Elegy for Iris, written about his wife, Iris Murdoch, and her devastating decline with Alzheimer’s disease. The last, Still Me, is Christopher Reeve’s autobiography; need I say more on that one?

What might we conclude? Perhaps that I was damn depressed when I heard or read about these, thought they were interesting enough to read, and purchased them. Thankfully, I knew better than to actually attempt to read them at the time. I also knew better than to read The First Wives’ Club, which a friend “kindly” sent me, even though I wasn’t a first wife. I guess she figured that, as many years as I’d been married, I was close enough. 

The point is that divorce is often like a death, terrible illness or injury. It’s feels tragic. There’s doubt about our own capacity to recover. There’s a question as to whether to wallow, wallop or wake up (as in smell the coffee). I’m here to tell you that I could read all these books now with equanimity, as a coach, divorced person and psychologist, trying to learn about survivors. Of which I am one myself. You can be one too. 

For a little inspiration, try Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love