When I was going through my divorce eight years ago, I had a handful of friends 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.)
What we all wanted was resolution. Not a silly list of do’s and don’ts. 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.
I remember wishing that my future self could show me the way, because I knew I’d get through it. There was even a small part of me that knew I was on my way to the best version of myself. But that’s hard to believe when you’re still in the heartbreak, and when it’s so cold and bleak outside that every hope seems frozen or dead.
If that’s you, if you’re a recent or soon-to-be divorcee and you need a reminder that Girlfriend, you got this!, let me share 10 pieces of advice. These are not resolutions—resolutions are for wimps. These are the brittle, sometimes sharp truths that, trust me, will set you free:
- Stop working on euphemisms for what happened, such My husband had an interesting take on ‘to have and to hold.’ Or ‘The grass was greener.’ Or, as the legal documents put it, it was a matter of ‘lifestyle choices.’ Stick with ‘we’re divorced’ 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 not always necessary. 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 memoirGift 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 2018 well.