By Karen Finn for Good Men Project
You’d like to believe that people would be kind and compassionate to you when you’re getting divorced. After all, it is one of the most stressful things you can go through.
And sometimes you’re lucky, and people are kind and compassionate. But there are always those people who say the most awful things.
Here are just a few of the horrible comments my clients have reported they’ve been told:
“Just get over your divorce already!” – a helping professional, a friend, and a family member
“I knew he was still cheating on you when you reconciled, but I didn’t want to tell you since you were trying to make it work.” – a friend
“Why do you care if he’s seeing someone else? You left him.” – a friend AND a family member
“I don’t know why you married her in the first place. I never liked her.” – a parent
“Oh, my GOD! You’ll NEVER make it on your own with those kids. You should never have had them.” – a friend
What’s most painful about this horrible shit that people say is WHO is saying it.
It’s your family. It’s your friends. And it can even be the helping professional you’ve turned to for help.
So on top of the dismantling of your marriage, all the legalities of getting divorced, needing to redefine your relationship with your ex, learning how to co-parent, helping your kids deal with the divorce, and everything else that you’ve got to do to rebuild your life after divorce, you’ve also got to deal with the betrayal of these people you thought you could turn to.
This is exactly when you start to wonder who you can still trust.
Getting divorced is one of the most difficult transitions you’ll ever experience. And yet it can also be one of the most important turning points in your life.
If you know how to deal with the BS that others throw in your direction, you’ll come out of your divorce stronger than ever. And the strength you build now will make your post-divorce life amazing.
So how do you deal with the shit? You keep a few important points in mind.
If they’ve never been divorced, don’t expect them to have anything important to say to you about yours.
Most people who have never been divorced only have TV, magazines and the movies as reference for what getting divorced is like. They have ZERO idea of how long it takes to get over a divorce or how painful it is. So don’t let them take up any of your precious emotional energy or thought with their opinions because they’re ignorant when it comes to divorce.
Just as you wouldn’t ask your mechanic to help you figure out what all the red spots are on your child’s chest, don’t expect your family, friends or maybe even your therapist, clergy or other helping professional who’s never been divorced to be capable of providing helpful opinions about your situation.
Most people are chicken shits.
They aren’t able to have the honest conversations you need right now because it would make them feel uncomfortable.
People will project their limitations and life experience on you.
We all see the world through our own eyes and very few of us can truly step into another person’s shoes to see life through their eyes. The result is that most people will ASSume (yes, I do mean this to imply that they’re making as ass of themselves) that what’s true for them is true for you too.
They may be weak and uninformed, but that doesn’t mean you are. In fact, it takes an incredibly strong and determined person to get through divorce – a person just like you.
Just because you now understand why they’re saying the BS, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it.
You definitely shouldn’t just accept what they have to say.
One way you can turn their stupidity around is to use it to build a stronger sense of self. And the way you do that is by becoming completely aware of what you’re feeling as a result of their insensitivity.
Then name those feelings. You can either call the emotions what they are, or something more creative, like George, Ringo, Paul and John. Whatever works for you.
Once you know what the emotions are and can name them, you’ll be able to choose how you experience them – because you’re not simply feeling them anymore.
This power of choice is incredible.
You might choose to continue experiencing the emotions as you have been, or you might choose to experience something else entirely. It’s by deliberately choosing your experience that you strengthen your sense of self.
You can best deal with other people’s fear of being honest be being honest yourself.
Tell them exactly what you think and feel. You don’t need to attack them, but articulating exactly how what they’re saying impacts you will make you feel much more powerful, and you’ll no longer be a victim of their words.
When people tell you that you can’t do something, you can use their negativity as fuel to prove them wrong. You know what you’re really capable of. They don’t. They may be weak, but that definitely doesn’t mean that you are.
We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We all say things we wish we could take back.
The problem is that when other people are way too human when you’re getting divorced, it hurts worse than it might at other times, because you’re already battling a whole lot.
By keeping these ideas in mind, you’ll emerge from the chaos and uncertainty of your divorce a stronger and more confident person – because you’ll have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that YOU can trust YOU.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach. She works with clients who are struggling with divorce and are ready to move forward with their lives. You can join her newsletter group for free advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with Karen directly in her Time Trade calendar.
Oh my goodness, I wish I had this article when I was going through my divorce. People, especially family, were awful. My mom actually said, “Well, we don’t know how to act. We never had to deal with divorce before.” Yeah, and I have?!! Great article!