Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Post-Divorce Mindset: Failure or Renewal?

It’s autumn and the leaves are changing. They’re beautiful, and though we know they’re dying, we don’t see it as a failure. It’s a process of readying for winter followed by renewal in the spring. We love the changes.

What does this have to do with divorce? If we can think of the post-divorce period as a process, then we might talk about a failed marriage, then a process of change followed by renewal. It’s when we have the mindset, I’m a failure because of my divorce, that we get into trouble. Thinking of yourself as a failure obviously leaves little room for change. Thinking of yourself as a person who was in a bad marriage, and is now recovering from that experience and moving toward growth and renewal, is infinitely more helpful.

*Becoming is better than being. So said someone and I have to agree. Now that you’re single, what would you like to become? Think of three things you’d like to become at this point in your life. For example, become a yogi/yogini, become an accomplished cook, or become a better parent. Better yet, become all three.

*One man or woman’s meat is another’s poison. I’ll have to agree with that one as well. You’ll meet or have already met many who identify their divorce as the turning point in their lives after which all else went to the dogs. You’ll meet many more who identify their divorce as the turning point after which all else (relatively speaking) was dog heaven. And here’s the secret: meat or poison, heaven or hell, it’s completely up to you. You make it what you want based on how you think about it. If you think creatively and positively about how you’re going to flourish, like the trees come springtime, you’ve got it covered.

*You are what you think. I definitely agree with this one. You are not a failure, you are not just a divorced person, you are a survivor. And you are about to create your own destiny. This is a growth opportunity, as are most tragedies. Athletes with a “growth mindset” learn from their losses and misses to become better players. People with growth mindsets know they can do anything they set their minds to, regardless of what they’ve been through. So figure out how you’d like to grow.

Change how you think of yourself and your experiences to make the post-divorce experience one of renewal and not failure. Spring is just around the corner.

Just for fun:  Kelly Clarkson, Since U Been Gone

Monday, October 11, 2010

Journal Post-Divorce...For Your Eyes Only

After writing recently about journaling for health and other assorted reasons, I thought, what better way to get out of the post-divorce doldrums?

I started my as yet unpublished memoir in the early post-divorce period. It was quite therapeutic. I submitted an as yet unpublished essay to the NY Times Modern Love column. While the rejection was disappointing, or as I prefer to say, “unlucky,” it was fun to write and exciting to submit.

I’m not saying you have to write for publication. Writing, if it comes reasonably naturally to you, is a great way to get thoughts and feelings out of your head, enhance your understanding of situations and difficulties, problem-solve, be creative and have fun. It can be for your eyes only.

You can write your way:

*through depressed, angry and guilty feelings
*through new and difficult situations, like dating
*through problems, e.g., with the kids, with your future, with your ex
*into your new and improved post-divorce personna

There are many famous post-divorce books, including:

*How to Sleep Alone in a King-size Bed
*Eat, Pray, Love
*First Wives Club

So get out pen and paper, a notebook or journal, or open a brand new page in your word processor, and just let it flow. Leave your internal editor behind, and see what comes out. Get wild, get crazy, have some fun…it’s for your eyes only.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You've Said Goodbye to Your Narcissist...Wake up and Smell the Flowers

Charming, commanding and demanding, the narcissist (almost as often a woman as a man) is sure to strain even the sanest, most committed mate. So finally, you’ve had enough, either because you were pushed to the limit or because you knew it would never change. So you’ve kicked him or her out. You’re alone. Once you’ve said goodbye to your narcissist, you have to learn a few things.

Learn to:

*Be alone
*Deal with your guilt and anger
*Rely on your own judgment
*Trust your view of reality
*Love yourself as you are
*Recognize your codependence

Learning to love yourself is important, but it’s not enough. You must also learn not to attract yet another narcissist. Or if you do, you must learn to let him/her go. If you can’t do the things you need to make you happy (okay, I’m on a happiness kick which is why I started thinking about this to begin with) then you could have a narcissist on your hands.

You must:

*Be assertive and say no when appropriate
*Notice when you’re being a caretaker, which is probably what got you in trouble in the first place
*Not be controlled and give up things important to you in deference to what they want
*Notice when you’re feeling bad and take appropriate action
*Notice when you spend a lot more time stroking your partner than being stroked
*Notice when you’re wary of the mood you’re partner is going to be in

When these things are becoming increasingly difficult, you must consider the distinct possibility that you’ve involved yourself with another narcissist. Wake up and smell the flowers!

For inspiration: Annie Lennox, Pavement Cracks