I love new beginnings. I delight in shaking the Etch-A-Sketch clear and starting over. I appreciate every month flipping the calendar to a fresh start. I enjoy crawling into bed when freshly laundered sheets await. I particularly enjoy the start of a new year when I spend days preparing pages of goals for the upcoming year. Well, a divorce can change that.
During a divorce, every single layer of life is changed. And I mean – every. single. one. New beginnings are everywhere. Although in the middle of life-altering upheaval, they don’t feel like new beginnings – the just feel like new problems, new challenges, new heartaches.
It is extremely difficult to step back in a season of high stress and pull together the perspective that divorce actually creates new beginnings. And what is so attractive about new beginnings anyway? It is hope alive, it is a potential bubble building, it is faith that something happy and delightful is within reach and right around the corner. All hard to see or feel during divorce.
My Coach, who shall remain nameless, will occasionally direct me to an exercise that I find particularly useful in the face of big change. It is a visioning exercise where you write your future story. In years past, I have loved preparing this on my birthday. This last year on my birthday when I sat down to write it, I had just 8 days prior listed my beautiful house for sale, my then spouse was moving out 7 days later and I was on the verge of having my daughters move out of my life for “half of the time.”
But instead of sitting in my own change-resistant mud, I wrote. I wrote in present tense about April 23, 2012. I focused on what I wanted my life to look like one year later. I wrote with detail about what my life would look like, feel like, be like. Doing this, focused me on how I wanted to show up in the following year so that I could arrive on April 23, 2012 and have successfully embraced my new beginnings. It clarified those things that would simply be beyond my control and that I should let go. At the same time, it gave me renewed determination to pay attention to those things that I could directly manage.
In the those moments when I was curled up with a tear-stained face wishing with all my might to be back in my old life – I would read it. I would be reminded in even the hardest moments that I didn’t really want my old unhappiness, rather I wanted hope alive and to be surrounded by possibility.
I would encourage anyone facing big change to use this tool to literally write a new perspective. You may find you enjoy that read much more than the sad story you have been reciting about yourself to anyone who will listen. You may find that in taking a small action toward the vision you have for yourself, you have an unexpected moment of sheer joy – the sure sign of a new beginning.