Divorce doesn’t change who you are. It changes how you experience yourself and your life every single day thereafter.
I am a firm believer in gratitude lists. As a divorced, working parent of two boys, there are far too many moments in each of my days during which I could easily take a dip into my own personal pity-pool and dwell on all of the stresses I now face that didn’t exist in my life during or prior to my marriage.
In fact, a few weeks ago, after simply shoving aside the mountain of unfolded laundry waiting for me after finally getting my boys to bed and climbing in next to them as though they were my snoozing (non-existent) lover, I started compiling a list of the pitiful things I do now that I never did before my divorce.
Woe is me, right?
I don’t believe in stifling those feelings of frustration. The “happiness is a choice” model has always struck me as far too simplistic. Yes, I do choose to be happy. Yes, I know that all moments and emotions are temporary. It’s just that as much as life is what we make it and all of that lovely jazz, some days life is tough. Really, really, super duper — and sorry, but — fucking tough.
I have said as much to friends and family in the past, and after receiving enough groans and eye rolls in return to do me just fine for this lifetime, I started keeping that thought to myself, settling for putting on the good show to save us all the trouble.
Then the ever-inspiring Jordan Gray wrote a post on Facebook in which he defined a concept I had never heard of — spiritual bypassing.
According to Jordan:
“Spiritual bypassing is when we try to race towards the lesson… the gratitude… the forgiveness… without actually allowing ourselves to feel our original feelings.”
YES!! That is it! That is the exact side-stepping of vital emotional processing I have known I need to keep myself from falling prey to in order to digest my experiences and feelings rather than swallow them whole for the sake of a quick but shaky smile.
I picked up that list of things I never did before my divorce and let them flow. Here’s what happened when I allowed myself to feel my original feelings.
18 Things I Never Did Before My Divorce
1. Took longer than my kids to get ready.
2. Fell asleep on a bed half covered with laundry.
3. Left dirty dishes in the sink for a week straight.
4. Let my kids play video games for more than an hour at a time.
5. Spent an entire weekend in bed when I wasn’t even sick.
6. Posted something on Facebook about how I truly feel.
7. Trusted my own judgment.
8. Explored my sexuality with zero shame or guilt.
9. Considered my own needs as important as someone else’s.
10. Found a career I love founded on my innate talents – and knew I was excellent at it.
11. Parented my children the way I believe I should, rather than the way I believed would prevent a fight.
12. Celebrated holidays the way I believe I should, rather than the way I believed would prevent a fight.
13. Got to know, understand and like myself.
14. Fully appreciated my parents.
15. Intentionally developed my creativity in a public forum without fear of judgment.
16. Attended a wedding without a plus one and only felt joy, not jealousy.
17. Took a road trip alone, fully absorbing the beauty and freedom.
18. Believed in second chances, and dared to take them.
A gratitude list was born after all. One that brings me true peace and happiness.
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