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