Article by Lisa Borchetta, MACP, CPC, ACC
Many years ago, as a young mother on my first trip to the mall with my infant son in his stroller, I stumbled upon a secret society which I had previously never realized existed. Finding myself unable to use the escalators with our stroller, I wandered into the department store where I was led to the elevators by a helpful sales clerk and there they were; “the stroller parents”. “Of course”, I said to myself, “I am not the first person in history, needing to travel from one floor to another and unable to do so via stairs and escalators.” But still, small and obvious as it sounds, in that moment I knew my world had changed forever. And indeed - it had. In an odd way, I find that divorce too is kind of like that, except you can’t tell who the divorced people are just by looking; they may or may not have a stroller and they are not required to wear a “Scarlett D” on their foreheads but they’re out there, in fact, they are everywhere.
Not a “Selective” Organization – Men and women, young, middle-aged and older, parents or not, wealthy or not – in every ethnic group and race; the members of this particular club are as diverse as any other cross section of the general population. And though the secret handshake is more of a nod and a wink – you know the moment you discover another divorced person that you share something very significant in common. Yet even if you lined-up all of the socio-economic data and particulars to group everyone together – each individual’s story is a different one. Same – but different; with one significant commonality – each of these individuals has been through one of the most significant and life-altering changes one could ever experience that those who have never been divorced will ever truly appreciate the subtleties of…
War Stories and Support Groups – What does it mean to you to be divorced? Is it still hard? Are you angry? Injured? Happy? Cautious? Proud? How long has it been since your divorce was final? Did you re-marry? Do you get along with your ex-spouse? Does your ex have a good relationship with your children? For each of us – our answers are different. And what may have been true in year one post divorce will look very different than it will be in year five, year ten, etc. Some divorced folks want to get together and swap war stories about custody battles and old spouse’s new love interests while others don’t have the desire or the need to go there – their lives feel settled and fresh and they would rather focus on the creation of this new chapter in their lives. Some need support and some would rather go it alone. But each person’s life was still impacted by their divorce and in many little ways those changes are evident in many of their most significant life details.
Every Step You Take – Typically, when people talk about the impact of divorce their focus is on the negatives. But for many people out there are numerous positives, too. And for most people it is more about a series of trade-offs. For instance - Your financial burden may be heavier, but you feel happier. Though how you judge the specifics (positive or negative) – the changes to your day-to-day existence are evident at every turn. From the big changes; where you live and how often you see your kids to the smaller changes; what you do on Friday nights or waking up to just your dirty dishes in the sink – there are countless changes both subtle and obvious. So what are all these changes going to mean to you?
What are YOUR by-laws? – For each of us negotiating the divorce process we are on an individual journey and how we experience it depends a lot on how we each want to approach it. Do you see your divorce as a failure for not succeeding in your marriage – or as a triumph for recognizing when something wasn’t working and taking action to correct it? Are you going to forgive yourself, your ex-spouse, your former in-laws, etc or are you going to remain angry, hurt and bitter forever? Are you going to let life happen to you – or are you going to take the reins and steer the outcome? The “choices” (as many of these options are under our individual control) are yours to make. Look inside – decide what is important to you, what you value in life and if you don’t know - make the conscious choice to find out. You see, in this secret society, each member writes their own by-laws, vision and mission statements, (the reality is divorced or not, this is true for everyone – we just get a kick start.)
Lisa Borchetta, MACP, CMC, ACC is a Certified Life Coach and owner of Firebird Life Coaching. In addition to her coaching work with individual and group clients, Lisa is also a public speaker, teacher and writer. She is a former Mental Health Counselor and holds a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology. Lisa writes for HopeAfterDivorce.org, FamilyShare.com, CupidsPulse.com, and LAFamily.com. You can visit Lisa’s website atwww.firebirdlifecoaching.com, her blog at firebirdlifecoach.wordpress.com and her FB page atwww.facebook.com/FirebirdLifeCoaching.