Divorce is the emotional equivalent of bankruptcy or cancer. It is the depth of everything bad we never wanted to experience in a relationship.
Last night, an acquaintance e-mailed me asking me to share some words of divorce wisdom with a friend of his. He wrote, “can you please just tell her it’s going to be alright?”
Here’s the thing: it is eventually going to be alright. I just about swear it. What I can’t say is that it’s alright now, it’ll be alright soon, or that it will ever be 100% better. I am willing to put myself out on a limb, however, and say that the uncertainty of “alrightness” and the state of being less than alright is okay!
Divorce isn’t pretty, no matter how you try to paint it.
There’s no sense in trying to imagine that it’s easy, not a big deal, or something we bounce back quickly from! Aside from that, we need to drop the notion that we need to be “alright” all the time! Life is a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. We have to go through both ups and downs; otherwise, our life path would be a flat, straight, boring line!
The wonderful thing about the awful times in our lives is that they build character, strength, and help up to appreciate and value the good things!
Divorce is the emotional equivalent of bankruptcy or cancer. It is the depth of everything bad we never wanted to experience in a relationship. Rock bottom, if you will. Rock bottom, however, is “the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life” (J.K. Rowling). The challenging, dark, and lonely times are the classroom for personal growth and development, and where we might be most successful in properly arranging our priorities and gratitude.
A childhood friend of mine is now a college professor. I have enjoyed many gasps and chuckles hearing her tales of the students she teaches. Often, her students are still deep in the midst of learning about life at the same time they are learning about Western Civilization. They often don’t grasp such things as deadlines, basic instructions, and manners; so, some of her exchanges with them are nothing short of hilarious!
I was touched, however, by a recent message, she shared from a senior student who has clearly learned one of life’s most important lessons. He recounted to her that he earned a C in her class last year, and was very upset. He took his disappointment in silence, even though he was on the verge of tears, and pledged to apply the feedback his teacher provided for the next year. He admitted that he was, at times, angry with the comments she marked in red pen. He sometimes “only got my work done because I wanted to show you that you were wrong about me.”
He finally came to the realization that he learned what he did wrong, and can now see that he has a better idea of how to succeed than ever before. “Thank you,” he said “for the A (this year), but thank you also for that C and for meeting with me so many times over this semester to help me realize you were right. I learned more from that C than I ever would from an A.”
Students of divorce and students of my friend’s classes have a unique opportunity to look at life from the bottom.
Where they want to be is within visual range; but, it will take some soul searching and effort to reach the other side. Even when the desired destination is reached, valuable lessons are carried forward. This is when we might begin to say that things are “alright” again. Life in the alright zone doesn’t feel nearly as hopeless, and even the little things that we might have used to take advantage of are now noteworthy and beautiful.
Like a piece of furniture that has been moved over a lifetime and passed from one generation to the next, we will bear scratches and scars from our journey. The marks of difficult times do not deter from our worth or beauty but instead vouch for our strength, character, and wisdom. Those marks will always be with us, reminding us.
We will always be a little bit damaged, but only in a way, we should all hope to be.
Who wants to live a lifetime as that sofa hermetically-sealed in plastic because, God forbid, we don’t want a stain, pet hair, or life to make contact? Wouldn’t we rather slide into the finish line with a few stories to tell and evidence of our adventures? No, we may no longer resemble the perfect model from the catalog, but the voyage through not alright, almost alright, and alright again will be well worth it!
Once we leave the showroom and rip off our tags, there are no more warranties or promises about what life will be life. Perfection will be only a memory, and the real value in life will be absorbed through all those disappointing C’s and heartbreaks that we somehow turn around into triumph and wisdom.
To my friend’s friend who is preparing for divorce: you will be alright again. Not today, and maybe not entirely for a while. Don’t look at this negative phase as a waste of your time and energy because it may actually be one of the most valuable opportunities you ever have to learn, grow, and become the person you were always intended to be!