When I went through my divorce, a number of my friends were contemplating, initiating, or reeling from their own break-ups, so at least I had company. (Granted, not the kind of company you want for dinner unless you plan to hide the sharp knives.) We agreed that what we wanted was not a silly list of do's and don'ts. We wanted real resolution, an end to the re-hashing, the second-guessing, and what-ifs; a giant kiss-off to quitters, cheats, Peter Pans, and control freaks; a rousing 'up yours!' to the judges and lawyers playing God in our lives; a signed document that set us free.
However, as any divorcee knows, we can't always get what we want. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our priorities, or at least of our manners. Because, as contrary as it may seem, being graceful takes effort.
Here's how to start:
- Stop working on euphemisms for what happened, such as: 'my husband had an interesting take on to have and to hold. Or 'the grass was greener.' Or, as the legal documents would have it, it was a matter of 'lifestyle choices.' Stick with 'we're divorcing' and don't feel compelled to launch into the unabridged saga. Face it. No ones cares as much as you think they do.
- Accept that, yes, SHE is 12 years younger. Know that whoever 'she' is, she will undoubtedly stay the same age, while he ages and becomes pathetic. Allow yourself small satisfaction on this point.
- Stop flinching when your son goes on about the girlfriend and how awesome she is because she calls him 'dude.'
- Believe your therapist when he tells you that your Ex did you a favor. Resolve to continue therapy if you have to donate blood to do it.
- Stop expecting to understand your Ex. Remember that peace described in a very famous book, the kind that passeth all understanding? Ponder that, and enjoy the superior feeling that comes from knowing verbs that end in 'TH.'
- Know that cooperation with an Ex is overrated. Learn to make decisions--about finances, housing, kids, career--on your own. Embrace the single mom power and mystique. If you've never done it, raise a fist and yell 'girls rock!' (Except girls who call boys 'dude.')
- Don't take it personally when friends treat you as if you're contagious. They simply want immunity from this particular plague and know there's no magic pill they can take to get it.
- Enjoy alone time. Learn the difference between loneliness and solitude. Consider these wise words from Anne Lindbergh, who writes about solitude in her memoir Gift from the Sea: Woman must be still as the axis of a wheel in the midst of her activities, she must be the pioneer in achieving this stillness, not only for her own salvation, but for the salvation of family life, of society, perhaps even of our civilization.
- Follow your own bliss. Stop following a blueprint with someone else's comments scrawled all over it. Thank another wise soul who said that the best revenge is a life well-lived.
- Live well.