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A Primer On Divorce And Forgiveness

Now if you're in the middle of a divorce, let's go ahead and get the bad news out of the way: Just when you think it can't get any worse, it can. But here comes the good news...
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Hand holding divorce paper dividing house in two halves
Hand holding divorce paper dividing house in two halves

Truths (according to me):

#1: Divorce is one of the most traumatic events in anyone's life. If anyone tells you they had an easy divorce, they are either lying or in denial.

#2: Divorce is better than staying in an unhappy marriage. As painful as it is to "rip off the bandage" or crack open your life, it's a lot better than being in an unhappy, unhealthy relationship.

As Louis CK said, "Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it's true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and ... they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times."

Now if you're in the middle of a divorce, let's go ahead and get the bad news out of the way: Just when you think it can't get any worse, it can.

But here comes the good news:

Ultimately, it will propel you into places you could never imagine. Even if you're in court, wondering who the hell it is you thought you were married to while essentially handing all your money over to lawyers, in the end, if you stand up for yourself and then take all the lessons you've learned on standing up for yourself, you can use it in your life to achieve more than you imagined. Nobody said boot camp is easy -- and that's what you're in, Life's Big Boot Camp. But you won't be there forever.

Divorce shouldn't be rushed. I have a friend in Germany and they make you separate and then wait a year before you can even get a divorce. My ex was already making an appointment with a mediator before he had moved out. In just a matter of weeks, while my head was filled with the grief of so much loss--my mother died, daughter moved away, my job downsized (to nothing), all while I had to find a new place to live--he wanted to "get it over with."

Divorce is a period of being insane. Trust me. Two years for most people is the time it takes to pull yourself together. Go with it. Don't fight it. Be crazy. Cry. Eat Ben and Jerry's. (In moderation, or a little more). Or don't eat, that's what happened to me, the Divorce Diet, best perk of divorce.

"Conscious uncoupling" is just another way of saying, "We are crazy. And choose to remain unconscious/comatose about what's really happening to us. See? We're smiling!"

Date. Or don't date. Whatever you feel like. I dated. I got naked as soon as I could (within six months). It was fun and it was also not fun. I slowed down on the dating front after awhile and focused on my career, which was a wise move for me. You decide what you need most.

Get support. My girlfriends came with me to court. Each time we met at Family Court my lawyer would say, "Who's coming today? Cathy? Barb? Abigail?" Those are good friends. You need good friends.

Married friends who have never been through a divorce have no idea. I was clueless before I stepped into the divorce arena. I also was married to someone who had been divorced twice before. He had a PhD in divorce and I was in pre-school. I had no idea.

Fight for yourself and your kids. If you just think you're fighting for yourself, you will give in too fast. If you know you're fighting for the future with your kids, you will stick around and negotiate much longer. A friend of mine who went to Harvard Business School said that women tend to walk away from negotiations faster than men. I stuck around. It helped.

In the end, I wasn't rich, I didn't get the best deal, but I got the best lessons: I am strong. I can manage difficult times. I have a voice, I have friends, I know how to ask for help, we all are stronger than we think we are. Standing up for yourself is one of the greatest experiences of life--it helps you know who you really are and who you really can be.

We all go into marriage hopeful and hopefully in love. About fifty percent of the time, it doesn't last. When it ends it can feel like a primal loss, and in many ways it is. But regrowth comes out of those broken places, difficult as that may be to believe at the time.

After a few years, with any luck, you will both be sane again and eventually you can be friends too. My ex and I are friends. We're not best friends, but we remember why we liked each other. This does not happen all the time, I know that.

For us, it's a tiny miracle that we are grateful for. I'm grateful for all of it. As Nora Ephron used to say, "It's all copy." It's the kind of thing a writer would say--but just think of it, you're writing your own story too. Why not give it a better ending?

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