Saturday, February 24, 2007

Surviving Divorce

A friend of mine who has been married for over 25 years wrote me this email today.

Guess I'd better get this over with. Told most of my friends and so here goes. I'm going to join the ranks of the newly divorced. My husband doesn't want to be married. He's really tried but he can't keep up this lie anymore. Don't have a whole lot to say but don't mind in the least answering questions. I'm still in that blessed numb state. But we have talked and talked and talked and I do understand it.

Yes we have talked to somebody, yes I will talk to somebody and I know we will both be alright and I also know we will stay friends. I'm just tired right now so write back and tell me what you think.

I wrote back. sorry to hear that it is your turn in the barrel. Divorce is a horrible process to go through....unfortunately probably necessary for far too many of us if we are going to be honest and live authentic lives. When so many people get divorced we have to ask what is wrong with the task, rather than what is wrong with the people. Not that mistakes have not been made. Rather, marriages do end, more often now before the death of one of the partners. When Paula and I got divorced my mother never blamed either one of us, she just expressed sadness about what was happening. She did not pick sides. She remained compassionately detached, which gave me the opportunity to work through my own feelings without having to work through family feelings as well.

Beware of blaming yourself, or your husband. That will only distract you from what you need to do right now. Blaming is useless, and merely perpetuates the simplistic game of victim and perpetrator. Life is never so simple as to find one person right and another person wrong. Blame goes on and on forever, never allowing you to come to peace and forgiveness. Perhaps the hardest person to forgive when divorce occurs is yourself. With blame, you are always opening yourself up for self hatred. The process is about forgiveness and letting go, not about making other people wrong, and continuing the anger. Eventually if the anger is not forgiven, it will eat you up inside.

After ten years, I have finally come to the place where I believe Paula and I had a fabulous marriage. We had troubles like all marriages have troubles, and we ended those struggles by the divorce process. But I now realize that we did marital relationship splendidly for 25 years and we are now great friends. It is the going through the adjustment of divorce that is hard. It is like pulling a fully grown tree out of the earth and replanting it. The tree suffers, goes into shock, but it is necessary for the survival of the tree, and so the tree endures. With age unfortunately comes sadness. We have to surrender the idealism of our youth and we have to accept reality as it is rather than as we wish it to be. With this surrender comes growth and new life, new awareness.

So you have embarked upon a journey that I found very difficult to travel, but after many years I have found it gratifying to have found so many lessons from such a difficult and painful process. What I have learnt that carries me forward is that if I can get through a divorce and be as loving and peaceful at the other end as I am towards myself and Paula about our marriage, then I have learnt something very special. I also know if I can endure a divorce, I can continue to grow no matter what the difficulty. I know you will also learn this truth. I know that on the other side of this pain is a joy that matches this hardship, because that is the way life is designed.

All my love,


1 comment:

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