Give up. That’s what we do, right? People of divorce – we just give up. It may be what we are best at. Really? No. One of the worst inferences felt by divorced people is that we are people who give up. People who have not experienced divorce are little able to relate to the suffering people go through prior to the divorce.
As the Lent season approaches, although I am not of a faith that practices giving up bad habits, giving up becomes top of mind as one by one Facebook friends promise to disappear for six weeks. In the spirit of giving up, I’d like to offer some suggestions for behaviors to give up during your divorce.
Beating yourself up. Give up self-hate. Accept that in the years that preceded this moment in your life, you worked really hard to repair reoccurring hurts during your marriage. Acknowledge that you struggled with the ever-present question of whether wanting to be happy made you a horrible, selfish person. Remember that one extremely difficult season of your life does not define who you are. Rather, it is a reflection that you are growing in new ways.
Believing you are a bad parent. Stop the constant refrain in your head that is telling you that you are a bad parent. Silence the voice in your mind telling you that because of the divorce you are somehow a bad mom or dad. Take faith in the fact that children do well when raised by happy parents. Honor yourself for wanting to show your children a better example of what love and support can look like.
Suffering from spouse cynicism. Whether you are divorced or going through the process, stop feeling like you have to hate your soon-to-be or ex-spouse. I sat across from a client today during the lunch break in the middle of her divorce trial. Her eyes welled with tears and she asked “Why do I still feel bad for him? Why do I still care?” I explained that a divorce doesn’t mean that you have to instantly hate your spouse. In fact, it is normal to still feel love or worry about the person you spent years of your life with. Be mindful that you are both people who are hurting. That both of you are having former dreams fade. But it doesn’t mean that you have to keep reciting every terrible detail or forget the fond memories you have.
So give it up. Let these toxic thoughts go and focus instead on your life today. Be gentle with yourself. Pay attention to your present parenting. Stop suffering by holding onto only the worst recollections of your spouse. Giving up these habits will benefit you not just for a few weeks, but for the rest of your life.