I stroke her hand as she lies in her blue print hospital gown, surrounded by machines and tubes and bags. It’s been five days since my friend spoke. I read her poems and prayers, talk to her about our children, and am mildly curious about my peacefulness. I long to remain near.
How is it that I could be so comfortable in an intensive care room that some cannot bear to enter and that makes others watch the clock? It’s not my personality. I was drawn to be a lawyer, a speaker, a coach, and a writer.
Never a nurturing nurse.
It is that I am prepared for dark days. I have been at bedsides of my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, my husband. It no longer scares me.
Everything in life prepares us for what is to come.
When we experience divorce, we feel so unprepared for the uncertainty. Countless aspects of our life feel foreign. How we move through our days. The amount of money in our bank account (or not). Even how we identify ourselves. The unknown gives us anxiety, even in the smallest of matters.
What you may not realize is that you are more prepared for divorce than you know. Unless you are in that mythical minority who had a perfect childhood, you already overcame plenty of adversity.
Divorce may be the most difficult experience in your life, but it is not the first. Adolescent uncertainty tortured many of us, but you managed to survive. Remember the agony of not having enough money for something that seemed so important at the time? Somehow you made it through.
How about that first broken heart that left you inconsolable for days?
Inventory the challenges you have experienced. Honor the courage and resilience you showed. If you were strong and brave then, you can be strong and brave now. These qualities never left you. Draw on them now.
You used plenty of skills to get you through those dark days of the past. You learned them. You earned them. Remember that you have them as you ask:
Can I take small steps when I am overwhelmed?
Am I willing to let in the support of others?
Have I learned that I am capable of overcoming challenges in my life?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, let this be the time to practice these skills. I promise it will make your divorce easier. It will also empower you to move through all of life’s dark days with more grace than you knew was possible.
No one wants to go through a divorce. No one wants to be in an ICU room with a loved one lying in a bed. But we remember our experiences, our skills, and, most importantly, who we are.