There are so many decisions to make during divorce. The whole process can seem like decision after decision after decision with no end in sight. For those of us who are not expert and confident decision makers this can be scary and overwhelming. The fear of making the wrong decision can be debilitating to the point of feeling paralyzed and completely unable to move forward.
If we are willing, divorce will help us learn and practice solid and wise decision making. Decisions we can live with in the future. There are endless opportunities during the process and there is a great little tool we can use when faced with a choice. It's called The Cost-Benefit Coordinates.
According to court statistics more divorces are filed in January than any other month of the year. The reasons are probably manifold from wanting a new start in the new year, saving on taxes for the previous year, to not disturbing the children’s holiday season. In most cases the one who files has been preparing for it a long time mentally and emotionally while the other might feel completely shocked or ambushed by it. Either side we find ourselves at the beginning of the divorce, we all want to go into it as prepared as possible, otherwise we will be easily taken advantage of.
Lots of us enter the divorce process with extremely unrealistic expectations, mostly when it comes to our ex spouse. Naively believing he or she will not hurt us deliberately in the process. Realistically we need to prepare for the opposite. Most of the time whatever we think he or she would never do to hurt us is exactly what he or she does in the heat of the divorce. It is hard to imagine beforehand how vicious the divorce can become and how uncharacteristically our ex can behave. What is even harder to imagine how uncharacteristically we will behave and how little it will take to turn us into our worst self.
The most life sucking, debilitating, and destructive emotion we face in relation to divorce is shame. As Carl Jung said “Shame is a soul eating emotion”. When mixed in with all the other heavy feelings from divorce, it can do more damage than anything we experience from the outside, including the vicious blows and attacks of our ex. Shame hides underneath our more visible emotions, like anger and sadness, completely inconspicuous but driving our actions and sabotaging our decision making.
Learning to identify shame and properly deal with it is the most useful skill we need to learn if we want to make divorce decisions that will serve us well on the long run, and want to ensure a happier and healthier future for ourselves.
Making a divorce decision is always life altering. It affects so many people. The closest they are to us, the deeper and heavier the impact is on them. It is an extremely hard decision when children are involved, and in many cases delayed because of that.
There is no rule or formula for it, everyone has to struggle through their own decision making process, and it can take years. When we can make the decision from true self-awareness and not from an emotionally charged or imbalanced place, that will be a decision we can trust and will be able to live with.
But how do we know we are at a place like that? When are we ready to make such decision?
Detachment from our ex is a long and often times bumpy process. It has more to do with our emotional and mental state than with time alone. Some people never fully detach from their ex even years or decades after the divorce. If we are still angry or overly sad about it, if we still blame him or her for ruining our lives, if we still wish it was different, then we are still very much attached to them, and have absolutely no chance for developing a new and satisfying life for ourselves.
Detachment can be a conscious and self-driven process so it is very much up to us to stay attached and let them affect our lives for much longer than necessary or intentionally detach from them layer by layer. The less attached we are to our ex the less power we give them over our feelings, thoughts, lives, and future, and the more in control we are going to have in these areas. If they are leaving our lives we need to be sure they are leaving our thoughts and feelings too. And the later two are absolutely under our own control.
To withstand means to remain undamaged or unaffected by, to offer strong resistance to someone or something.
To remain undamaged or unaffected by the vicious attacks of our ex when he or she is attacking our character, our past actions, our ability to parent, and our right to have the finances and property we are entitled to. To offer strong resistance to him or her and not to bend over and just take whatever the overwhelming current is trying to make us swallow.
In other words how to stay not just strong but intact and stable under the tremendous pressure of these cruel blows, accusations, and threats? When the very intent of them is to brake us and make us weak and give up.
It is easy to get the false impression from outside that people make quick and light divorce decisions all the time, but the truth is, most people struggle deeply and quietly for a long time before deciding. Making a decision to divorce is an extremely guilt and shame producing process and many of us go through it alone, or without any significant mental and emotional help or support.
Just thinking about the possibility of divorce hits our shame core the deepest, telling us that we have failed, we are not enough of a man or woman who could make marriage work. We just don’t have it in us, we don’t quite measure up. We always had this suspicion about ourselves, but now if we divorce we will have evidence. It will be official. We will be second class citizens. Less than we should be.
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