The way you process and think about divorce can keep you stuck in the drama of divorce.
If your divorce has been long and filled with drama there is a reason. It may not be a logical reason but, just the same, in your mind there is a reason and you have to continue the fight. From your point of view, based on your core beliefs and thought processes you have no choice but to remain engaged in the drama of divorce.
Consider this, according to Michael J. Formica, MS, MA, “Each of us maintains a collection of Core Truths about our lives. Our Core Truths are repeating patterns of thought and behavior defined by our various assumptions and expectations, as well as our ideas about the way the world works, collected over time.”
As a child, you were taught or, learned lessons about how the world should work, how you and other people should behave, and what you should be able to expect during certain situations. Could those lessons you learned as a child keep you stuck in a place that negatively impacts your life and keeps you from moving on from the drama of divorce? Yes!
Our core beliefs and truths play a big role in how we perceive our reality. This is great if those core beliefs and truths are based on lessons learned that promote a healthy worldview. If not, they work against us.
Illogical Core Beliefs That Keep People Stuck in The Drama of Divorce:
Can you identify with any of the illogical thought processes below?
Failure is unacceptable:
Were you driven by your parents to bring home a straight A report card? Maybe you played sports and felt you had to be the best player on the team to earn your father’s attention.
However, you learned the lesson, being unwilling to fail in your quest for sole custody, lifetime alimony or just to prove a point keeps you fighting way beyond the point of positive compromise. Accepting or agreeing to less than you feel you are entitled to doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you someone willing to compromise which is so much more beneficial in the divorce process than someone who fights at all costs to keep from failing. Talk about staying stuck in the drama of divorce!
Controlling other people’s behavior:
I’ve seen this played out during post-divorce visitation. Gatekeeper custodial moms want to control every aspect of their children’s lives. If that means setting the rules at her home and her ex’s home, so be it. She needs him to parent according to her rules and if not his life becomes a living hell.
The gatekeeper may believe it is normal for her, the mother, to dictate to him, the father, how he should behave when the children are in his care. But, as natural as it feels to her, it puts the children in the middle and shows how unreasonable she is as a mother and person.
We can’t control other people’s behaviors and attempting to do so will turn us into problem causers, not problem solvers.
Every problem has a solution:
Your ex refuses to speak to you; maybe he refuses to stick to the parenting plan. Or, he doesn’t return emails or notify you of the children’s school events. The post-divorce, co-parenting relationship can be riddled with problems. And you and your belief that there is a perfect solution to every problem keep you engaged in focusing on and solving every little problem that comes up.
Attempting to find solutions to every problem can keep you stuck and causes you to stagnate in a cesspool of drama. You may feel you shouldn’t settle for less than perfection when faced with a problem but getting rid of the unreasonable belief goes a long way in helping you let go of the stress generated by certain divorce-related drama.
You believe that if you don’t get involved, shut down or, ignore the problems caused during divorce that you are safe from the hurt and upset. Think again! I’m acquainted with a man who filed for a divorce, left his wife and obstinately refused to speak with or see her from that date forward.
On top of that, he refused to be involved in his children’s activities if she was involved which, over time drove a wedge between him and his children. This guy wouldn’t even pick his children up for visitation at the home they shared with his children because “she was in the home.” He didn’t have to see her; all he had to do was drive up, blow the horn and collect his children. But, for him, self-protection meant totally erasing his ex-wife from his life. Something that is impossible to do if there are children involved.
His belief that to protect himself he needed to avoid her was so severe that it caused a complete rift in his relationship with his children. The last time I spoke with him it had been 10 years since he had, had contact with his daughters. When I encouraged him to reach out to them his response was, “It would only invite more pain into my life and I have to focus on dealing with the pain I already live with.” This man quite literally talked himself out of the most rewarding relationships in his life and, all in the name of an illogical belief that he wouldn’t be able to deal with the pain.
Bad people must pay:
You are a believer in justice and punishment. If he left you for another woman, he will pay. If she left you and took the children, she better watch her back. You will leave no stone unturned and no amount of time is too long in your desire to make him/her pay and be held responsible.
Crimes must be punished, in your mind, and if infidelity or, losing a child to divorce isn’t a crime I don’t know what compares. This is one of the more common illogical core beliefs that get us in trouble. When someone commits a moral wrong against us, we want them to get their “just deserts.” Here is the problem, they will experience their punishment but you can bet that it will be easier to live with than the constant discomfort you will feel over your constant moral outrage.
I’m all about bad people who do bad things suffering the consequences of their behavior. The problem is, we are talking about divorce and no-fault divorce laws make practically any behavior by one spouse to another (with the exception of abuse) above the law AND our moral outrage.
We only punish ourselves when we hold onto the need to punish a spouse who hurt us. They’ve moved on, aren’t giving us a second thought so, doesn’t it only makes sense that we let it go? Move on and not give them the power to impact our lives moving forward?
Here is the thing, just because you believe your response to certain situations is right, doesn’t mean it is right. We all benefit from taking a self-inventory and thinking twice about the role illogical core beliefs play in our continued engagement in drama.