I was fortunate enough to be in Thailand this year for the 10th anniversary of the Tsunami that left a trail of absolute devastation through most of Southeast Asia. A beautiful ceremony of remembrance was held on Patong Beach and survivors returned to heal from the trauma of the past and to release lanterns resembling a medley of lights gracing the sky to remember those who did not return. Gazing out into the ocean across the stunning backdrop of mountains, palm trees and boats swaying in the light breeze, it is totally inconceivable to imagine the destruction that unfolded on Boxing Day 10 years ago.
The perpetrator of this destruction was water, an element of such calm and grace that can so easily slip through our fingers. Yet as a collective force, water loses its grace, calm, and beauty. That fateful day water fiercely destroyed everything in its path, with no mercy whatsoever, no questions asked. Nature works in this way. It does what it needs to do without being prompted and, at times, without any warning. We are at its mercy.
An important lesson that arises from the destruction that rendered the island paralysed, traumatised, helpless, and vulnerable was the power to rebuild from the rubble amongst the grief, to pick up the few pieces left, and to start anew with aplomb when all except their lives had been lost.
This brought me to a new level of reflection about divorce and the process of rebuilding after the destruction, and I began to ask myself, if we were to lose everything, does this mean we are nothing and have nothing to contribute, or can we still continue to feel of value in the world? This question kept reverberating in my mind and my reflections led me to a deeper level of soul searching and in doing so, I concluded that at times there is a value in losing, however painful and difficult this is, because in doing so we somehow find ourselves. In essence if we can still operate without what we thought defined us in the first place, then this can then allow us to experience the world in a totally different way, creating an incredible sense of freedom.
Furthermore, this presents an interesting question when examining the way we view our status and worth in society and most importantly in the western world. If we do not meet the criteria with regards to our married status, the car we drive, the home we purchase, or the career we decide to pursue, what then? It presents a move away from our contemporary way of experiencing life when personal tsunamis hit such as the divorce process which threatens to destroy and paralyse our otherwise perfect world. What is our standpoint then? Analyse why this happened? Pick apart our childhoods to find a reason or someone to blame? Where do we go from here? There is actually nowhere to go, not to the past, not the future, just to stay with the event as it transpires.
In order to recover, heal and rebuild after suffering the effects of any type of personal tsunami type of destruction in life, it is important to suspend the ‘why’ because at times there is simply just no answer. This is by far the hardest part when trying to conceptualise an event as a human being who thinks, feels, and has an intellect. There needs to be a reason, a motive, and an answer that satisfies the intellect for moving on or healing to take place.
However, it is possible to heal from divorce regardless of the questions remaining unanswered. Life does not pick you personally. Life just happens. To spend time picking apart the remnants of the personal tragedies that life inflicts only blocks the healing and, in fact, gets in the way of it.
There is a great deal to learn from the people of Thailand that I encountered and spoke to about the devastation that hit the island. There was an incredible amount of grief initially which was important and appropriate. But rather than trying to spend their lives picking the incident apart, asking why their loved ones were swept away, and why their homes were destroyed, they focused on making sure they currently have a more robust evacuation system should this happen again. Is that not what we need to do when life strikes us a blow? Ensure we learn how to avoid it the next time, rather than pick apart who was to blame.
As you navigate life after divorce, how do you measure your value? More importantly, has your change of status affected your sense of self-worth?
How has your life improved since your divorce?