What Is Your Divorce Mask?

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People wear masks during divorceWith Halloween approaching, people have been decorating their homes and dressing up in costumes for weeks.

The notion of changing who we are by a mask or a costume often starts when we are children preparing for the annual trick-or-treat outing. The adults around us ask, “Who are you going to be for Halloween this year?” The question supports the idea that we can “try on” other identities and choose to become someone else.

Masks Aren’t Just for Halloween

Most of us actually wear a mask and a costume all year long, sometimes more than one. Every day we decide what face we will present to the world.

For some, the choice is reactive; it feels out of control and not a choice at all.

For others, it is a planned persona that is constructive for dealing with the realities.

We Construct Stories About Our Challenges and Outcomes

We all know people deal with challenges differently. On the positive side, there is the athlete who loses a limb by accident or disease and yet goes on to run a marathon. Adults who have overcome childhood challenges show others the way to conquer theirs and transform their lives.

Then there are negative stories that some construct to justify wallowing in despair, place blame, or avoid personal responsibility.

In both cases, the story becomes the mask through which the person views life and how others view the person.

What Is Your Divorce Mask?

Ending your marriage is high on the list of life’s challenging events. The pain involved in losing this key relationship is as real as that felt by people who have lost a limb. For many, divorce feels like a part of you has been amputated, and it takes time to learn to “walk” again. It takes great effort to put on a positive face and meet the responsibilities of children, work, and family.

Constructing a Better Mask

There is an expression in twelve-step recovery programs that says, “Actions first, and then beliefs.”

Doing right actions helps you heal and is inspiring for your children and family. Divorce is a learning opportunity, and you are the teacher, even though you may not think of yourself as one.

Your children are sponges when it comes to your behavior. They know when you are wearing your angry, punishing mask or your sad, but respectful mask. They take their cues from your masks about how to behave when they are angry or sad. Kids model your behavior and feel as justified about it as you may feel when you behave that way.

This Halloween season, choose to wear a mask of dignity and respect. While it may feel uncomfortable to wear at first, over time this mask will attract more “treats” for you and your children.

Photo credit: ©2014 Can Stock Photo

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