The Gift of Divorce
Written By: Mark Smith
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I’m at the beach today and after a walk listening to poetry my mind and heart started to flood with thoughts about divorce. I think that divorce really gets a bad rap in our world. Divorce is potentially an extremely wonderful gift that can help to heal, invigorate, refresh, instruct and re-invent you. Divorce is NOT failure. There is no shame or should be no shame in getting divorced. It is not a sign of mental illness, a lack of morals, insensitivity to the needs of the kids or of spiritual bankruptcy. Divorce can be a very positive and healing mid-life rite of passage. It can usher in a creative, fresh, exuberant second adolescence that can completely refurbish, reinvigorate and redirect a stale, off track existence. It is an amazing opportunity for new beginnings, new relationships, new awareness’s and new and more personalized living spaces. Divorce is not meant to destroy you. On the contrary, relationships are incredible opportunities for growth, healing, bruises and adventure. Severe marital challenges aren't meant to discourage, disappoint, disillusion or destroy you. They are the universe's way of breaking, healing, deepening and maturing you. It is all good. It just doesn't always feel good.
Marital dysfunction is as normal and natural as breathing, aging or dying. The truth is that every marriage is a ticking time bomb ready to go off. The human condition is, unfortunately extremely broken, flawed, damaged, dysfunctional, complex and dark. If you doubt this you haven't been married quite long enough. Very few of us possess the emotional health required to sustain a healthy and vibrant relationship much past seven years, much less into three or four decades. By few of us I mean almost none of us. If you delved deeply into the childhood of any and everybody you know you would find sad stories of abandoning fathers, addictions, control, criticism, abuse, lack of nurturing, divorce, poverty, struggles, tragic deaths and dysfunction of every sort. I wish that wasn’t the truth, but it is absolutely the truth.
It is what it is but that is not a negative thing. I imagine that you have received your fair share of bruises along the way? That is normal. I have a fortune cookie fortune taped to my bathroom mirror that I love. It reads 'The key to life isn't in staying out of the rough but rather in how good you are at getting out of it once you inevitably land there.' Divorce is the ultimate rough. It will take a great deal of work on yourself to get out of the divorce rough and all that it entails. All families are dysfunctional, real dysfunctional! How many truly happy and connected 20 year plus married couples do you know? You can use one hand and have lots of fingers left over, uh?
Very, very few couples who do manage to stay married more than 25 years are truly healthy, consistently intimate and deeply connected. Many of the still long married are limping along in marital less than mediocrity until the bomb goes off. Or they are holding on for appearances sake in spite of the emotional distance, the chronic addictions, the near hatred and the almost non-existent love life. Nobody wants the hassle, the apparent demotion, the pain, the loneliness and the financial devastation of a divorce. Sometimes, many times it just needs to be done. When something dies it is a fairly rational next step to bury it with all the ritual and grieving that go with loss. While that is very sad, there are also many exciting new beginnings that go with the ending of a marriage.
You have a choice. Your divorce can defeat, embitter and destroy you or it can be a positive springboard into a new and better life for you. It is all in how you perceive and interpret your situation. Here is the foundational truth that allows for so much proactive and positive insight and growth...you are 100% responsible for the condition of your life and you were NEVER EVER IN ANY WAY victimized by your former spouse. Uh, that is the good news? It is good news because you are the only person in this world that you truly have a good shot at changing. You married exactly the right person and you stayed married to them for exactly as long as you needed to. It was all fair and it was all good. What you did not realize when you said 'I do' was that your beloved was actually a very cleverly disguised version of your parents' worst qualities. That is what love is. We are only attracted to those who are well equipped to ultimately break and hurt us in our most vulnerable and fragile places. If every couple understood this amazing secret the divorce rate would be a lot closer to 0% than 50%.
The key to happiness after divorce is NOT finding that magical someone special who can love you in all the ways that spouse #1 failed you. That person will not exist for you until you heal the freshly exhumed childhood wounds that your ex expertly dug up in you. You need to learn to love yourself well before you will even be eligible to select a healthier candidate you can train the love you well. If you rush into the illusion of the love cure white knight relationship it won't be too many years that you'll be staring down the barrel of divorce #2. Learn how to get in touch with and meet many of your own needs. Discover or re-discover you passions. Establish a supportive group of friends. If you haven't spent a goodly amount of time playing in the muck of your and mire of your issues on the therapy couch get started immediately. You need it. Embrace whatever dark passengers are lurking beneath your more presentable surface. The second half of your life can be so much fuller and richer and sweeter than the first half. It is a ridicules myth that you are washed up on the back sides of both divorce and age 40. I have the beach all to myself now as it is about to storm.
Embrace the gift of your divorce. Squeeze every ounce of learning, wisdom, spirituality, grace, recovery and ultimate blessing out of the experience that you possibly can. Do not blame your ex. There are not now nor have they ever been your problem. Your problem is rooted in the wounds from your childhood that caused you to choose to marry such an unhealthy stinker or abandoner or addict or distancer or cheater or controller in the first place and then stay married to them so long. Focus on you. Fix you. You are broken. If you do not know that about yourself I fear that you might need another dose of marriage to instruct and break you. See your divorce as the freeing adventure that it can be. Sometimes plan B ultimately turns out to be even better in the long run that plan A. Congratulations on your new beginning. Attack it with a spring in your step, a tear in your eye, a limp in your ego, a vision for good things and all the hope and faith in the world.
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