What obstacles or pretty prisons are holding you back from moving on after divorce?
Dana’s home was her pride and joy. It was the stage for her daughters as they grew from infancy to adulthood and her marriage to Chuck, and it served as a living museum to memories through the ages. The halls and mantles were filled with beautiful remembrances of the last three decades of her life, and it was her sanctuary of comfort and peace. Lately, however, her residence had become more of a nuisance as one very expensive problem after another reared its ugly head for her to chase away with plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. Her post-divorce income was barely enough to maintain the large home, and certainly not enough to combat costly repairs and upkeep. Her empty nest began to feel excessive for just one resident, and her friends and family begged her to sell it and unload her troubles.
Why didn’t she find something smaller and easier to take care of?
Why didn’t she rent a condo so that all repairs and maintenance would become her landlord’s responsibility?
Why did she continue to put herself through the stress of a house that was becoming too much for her?
At first, Dana, balked at the suggestions to get rid of her lovely home. It was the one thing that was hers after her the seams of her life were unstitched during her divorce. She couldn’t imagine letting go of the one solid foundation that existed in her life for thirty years! She had already mourned the end of her marriage and watching her girls move out on their own, and the idea of losing her home too made her sad and angry.
Following a contractor’s quote for even more repairs that could cost as much as $10,000, she found herself taking a stroll through her home, lovingly touching the annual growth measurements of her daughters scratched into the family room door frame and studying every family photo and treasure on display. In that moment, she realized that her most cherished memories lived in her heart, not inside the four walls of a building.
She experienced a moment of clarity as she realized that, for her, the family home was actually holding her back from moving on after divorce. She had confused comfort and familiarity with necessity. All at once, she was at ease, and she knew that selling the home was a move in the right direction. It was no longer so much an issue of the costly repairs, the size, or any other contributing factors, as it was a newly-discovered urge to free herself from the binds of the past!
She could always display her treasures and photos in a new home. Her memories would still be hers to cherish, as well as any prized possessions that she wanted to move with her. What she would no longer have to endure were the reminders around every corner of the heartbreak and loss of her divorce. She could purge the items and memories that were now unwanted, and create fresh ones in a new environment!
Dana’s story made me contemplate what’s holding all of us back following divorce?
For her, it was a house. That house was the “prize” that she won in divorce. It represented security and the best years of her life; but, then she realized it was more of a hindrance to her forward motion. Not only was it too big and overwhelming to care for, but it had succeeded in trapping her in a pretty prison, afraid to try to live again after one major chapter of her life ended.
For some of us, our fears of trying new things, allowing ourselves to be happy again, or releasing the hold of the past might manifest in a variety of other ways. Perhaps we’re stuck in the same daily routines. Maybe our job, people we associate with, or perception of ourselves and our abilities has us stuck in place, like a fly on flypaper. Someone, maybe our ex, planted an idea in our minds about who we are and what we can or should do, and we feel paralyzed to do anything different. Some of us, out of love and devotion for our kids, may feel pinned in place from fear to shake up anything in their lives. We may think that remaining frozen in the old ways makes it somehow easier for everyone else, so we don’t dare change.
Some of us remain locked up because we still have feelings for our ex or are embroiled in continuous conflict with them, which doesn’t allow for calm or closure in anyone’s life!
Sometimes change is the healthiest thing that can ever happen! Change is scary, so we may resist it with everything we have; but, change can be like an infusion of oxygen and fresh blood to someone who is dying! Change just for the sake of change might not result in a positive outcome; but, it shouldn’t be avoided like the plague simply because it is new and unknown.
Dana’s story should inspire us all to simply take a closer look at where we stand after divorce. Sometimes prisons come with pretty throw pillows and rose gardens. Sometimes what holds us back are fears and barriers we construct in our minds. Sometimes it is other people (well-meaning or not) that burden us with expectations to behave certain ways.
I suspect that we’ve all had obstacles in the path of our divorce healing that have either forced us to remove them, or that have prevented us from going any further. Progress along this path should happen at the pace and in the way that makes the most sense for each of us. Dana required several years of living in her home by herself before she came to the conclusion that her freedom and ultimate peace was at a different address. No one can tell any of us what the right way to heal or let go is because there is no one or correct method of doing so. The price of freedom may be paid through the rearrangement of some previous thoughts and habits, or be as physical and overt as moving to obtain a clean slate.
Once we recognize forces that are keeping us from being able to heal or achieve the happiness we deserve, what can we do to remove these issues from our lives? Some of the cages we find ourselves in are quite complicated; but, any movement we take that allows us to be true to ourselves and reach that state of serenity and freedom we desire is positive! Little steps can sometimes pave the way for even more change. Sometimes it’s just a matter of building our confidence that it is possible and experiencing how good it feels for ourselves to inspire further action!
Life confined within unwelcome walls (physical or mental) is not a way to live! There is always something we can do to break loose from burdens, expectations, and emotions that hold us back from being the person we want to be. Even a little change may make a big difference and help liberate us from the darkness of divorce!