This morning brought with it the first snow flurries of winter. The sugary dusting of snow is so lovely through my window, if only I could snuggle up with a hot cup of tea and watch the postcard-like vision from the warmth of my home! Alas, like it or not I must brave the chill to warm up the car, scrape the ice from the steps, and make my way on the snowy streets!
I’ll admit that the extra time added to my routine and these tedious and uncomfortable tasks make me a bit grouchy! I sigh (and see my breath in doing so), knowing that I have a good four more months of shoveling, slipping, and shivering ahead of me. Unless I move from mid-western America to the tropics, my seasonal fate is inevitable.
Divorce was also a chilly and unwelcome season of my life. New and undesirable steps were added to my daily life such as sending my children away part time, managing a new and smaller budget, facing a life alone, and hostile relations with my ex.
There was no escaping the new state of my life, so I was faced with two choices very similar to the ones I make now regarding the arrival of winter: become an ice queen or NOT!
I could allow my heart to frost over, become as hard, dangerous, and unapproachable as the ice I chip away from my sidewalk. I could become hostile, cold, and someone others avoid. I could allow memories of the warm times that have passed to induce resentful tantrums not unlike power outages and accidents.
Instead of associating myself with joyful things (e.g. snow angels, lacy patterns of frost on glass, a favorite wooly scarf, or a cup of hot cocoa) that can only be experienced in the season, I could instead focus on what I have lost. No more warm breezes coming through open windows or morning birdsong. No more green grass or ice cubes clinking in a glass of lemonade.
Divorce could have just as easily converted me into an ice queen. Unforgiving, suspicious, quick to anger, slow to trust, and deeply scarred by betrayal and loss. I could have missed the opportunities for personal growth and improvement disguised in overwhelming challenges and nights spent crying. The environment was unmistakably bleak, harsh, and absent of any signs of hope; but, among the icicles and snowdrifts of that situation were hidden havens of warmth and beauty.
So much of life is how we choose to look at it. Two of us may stand before a window facing a snowy scene. One of us may only see bitter cold wind, hours of shoveling, and a white-knuckled journey to work. The other may note that the snow sparkles as if made of glitter and imagine hours of laughter while building a snowman and throwing playful snowballs.
Divorce can be just as uncertain of a picture to behold. Obstacles are feared to be obscured under ice and snow. We don’t know what to expect. We fear we may fail, become lost, or not be able to succeed. The people we care about might distance themselves either because they have their own issues to attend to or they too are afraid of leaving the comfort and safety of what they know to reach out to us.
Clearly, life before is not what it was, and we’re not sure what we can expect in the foreseeable future. Will it always seem cold, unpleasant, and something to avoid? Will the sun ever come out and share its warmth again? Is the world we find ourselves in that requires us to fight every day to keep it within control the best we can ever again expect it to be?
The future is, at best, uncertain. I recommend against thinking the worst of any situation because it may indeed become permanent. Will we curse and pout at the new mountain of snow deposited at our door or relish in the possibilities? The circumstances we find ourselves in are often not as we hoped, but that’s no excuse to let them change us for the worst. Yes, they may be harder than we ever imagined, but that doesn’t mean we should become as such!
There is beauty, opportunity, and usually an end to every imaginable season we may encounter in life. Divorce is just one such time that many of us take part in, though we should take care to not let it forever define who we are. Instead of letting a bad situation change us, we should do everything in our power to wrestle away the steering wheel and control the direction of the experience and how it affects us.
Change is inevitable and can be a very positive thing. Change need not be an unconscious process that simply happens to us without any participation or guidance from us. The last thing we should want to do is wake up and discover we’re someone we would never want to be because a bad event was allowed to spoil everything good we have. Even worse, is to allow a bad season to set the tone for the rest of our life!
Protect your heart and never let it become cold. Allow experiences to change you and help you grow, but not for the worst. Be the monarch of your destiny, but never a ice queen!