Some of the Most Beautiful Gifts Come in Ugly Wrapping Paper
Over the many years I have helped clients end their marriages, I am frequently the only one in the room holding the possibility of their future happiness.
Regardless of why the marriage is ending, there is always sadness and mourning. It’s not what couples imagined when they walked down the wedding aisle.
Divorce is the end of a vision and a dream. That’s why it can feel like a death in the family for so many people.
Through others’ stories and by meeting with couples for post-divorce mediation, I’ve learned that, within about two years following the divorce, each person begins to thrive.
Thriving Looks Different to Different People
- For some, it is the relief of not having tension in the home and not having to consult on simple decisions like what’s for dinner.
- One client finally got the puppy dog she’d been yearning for her whole life. She recounts how that little dog brought joy and laughter back into her home to her and her three young teenagers.
- For others, new relationships are more solid because they are forged in honesty and choice. People do learn a lot about relationships when they go through a divorce. They wisely use that information to understand the qualities they want in a partner. This WSJ article explains it well: 5 Lessons Divorced People Learn from Marriage.
My Divorce Journey
Personally, I would not have found the career of divorce mediation if my marriage had not ended 20 years ago. I can still feel how collapsed I was when my marriage of 25 years ended. I referred to myself as a “puddle on the floor.”
And yet, after the first rough year, my resiliency kicked in, and I became committed to helping others cross this bridge.
The ugly wrapping paper of my divorce brought me the beautiful gift of my new career and meaning and purpose.
I am actually grateful—now—that my ex-husband and I had had the courage to end our marriage and admit that we were not intended to grow old together. But, in the moment, that was very difficult.
A Strong Path Forward
Several important strategies helped me and may help you. Here are some additional suggestions.
- Sounding Board: This is a time when old wounds get triggered and you want to avoid having them infect you like a virus, pushing you backwards. Finding a counselor or a skilled listener like a pastor is so important. In this setting you can express your feelings without feeling vulnerable. Friends and relatives may not have the same level of listening skills or patience.
- Exercise: Set a goal of exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. This is proven strategy to reset your emotional well-being. For 30 minutes a day, you and your body know that you are important and that you intend to be healthy.
- Meditation: It’s easy to roll your eyes at the thought of meditating. Trust me, I did for years. It turns out there really is no wrong way to meditate. Sit down in a special spot every day for 10 minutes. Even if during nine of those minutes you are thinking about your to-do list, the idea that you are “meditating” and sitting still becomes a pattern. Day after day, it makes a difference. Do not judge the experience. Just do it.
- Claim your Wellness: There is an expression that states: “Actions first, then belief.” Build on your progress. Declare that you exercise and meditate. Report that you are feeling better. Do not diminish your progress by apologizing or minimizing your resiliency.
- The Struggle is Optional: Life is full of challenges and there are good times, sad times, bad times. The key is acceptance and curiosity. Yes, change feels scary and yet there is often a silver lining. The struggle and resistance is optional. Volumes have been written about how you view things matters. It is your choice to resist or accept. A wonderful book, It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein, offers help.
Whether you say that “beautiful gifts can come in ugly wrapping paper,” or “everything happens for a reason,” life is a journey. Sometimes hills and mountains, sometimes beautiful fields, but we cannot see around the corners.
Acceptance does not mean not to feel grief and sadness but to have faith in the future. Have faith that what’s around the corner for you is positive.
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