We all know about The Five Love Languages, but do you know about the five voices of divorce? You may not refer to them by name, but if you have faced the end of a relationship, you have certainly heard their call. Unlike the gentle languages of love, the voices of divorce are harsh, often abusive in tone. They tell us that we are broken, they implore us to lash out at ourselves and others and they plant seeds of fear and doubt. If we listen to the voices for too long, we risk believing their lies and falling into their trap. Learn the tricks that the five voices of divorce use and how to escape their grasp.
Divorce is a time of endless questions and ceaseless change. We are forced to make decisions when we are far from our best and often lack complete information. This voice creeps in to undermine our every choice, our every action. Doubt plants its seeds and lets our own insecurities water them at a time where self-esteem is often at an all-time low. Doubt tells us that we will not succeed. It strives to use it powers to paralyze us in place, afraid that no decision is the right one.
Fortunately, doubt is susceptible to distraction. When you recognize its influence, rather than allowing its voice to play on repeat, eject the tape and intentionally play a new one. Work to build your confidence. Tackle a challenge and celebrate your success. Focus on your gifts and your strengths. Surround yourself with people that believe in you on those days when you cannot believe in yourself.
The biggest weapon against doubt is faith. Know that no matter how much you have lost, you can regain even more. Believe that the way you feel right now is not the way you will always feel. Hold on to hope that your future can be even better than you dare to imagine. Have faith that you will make the right decisions and that you will be okay.
Blame is the preferred voice of the hurt ego. Our fragile egos are shattered during divorce. We often feel abandoned or broken. Even unlovable. The ego protests these slights by laying blame at anything and everyone, looking to protect its delicate core. Blame is ugly, often a misdirected attack and it is always a winless game, distracting from the real issues at hand. This voice attempts to build us up by tearing others down. It screams out rather than reflecting in, preventing any real healing from occurring.
Acceptance is the antidote to blame. Often this begins with the humanization of the object of your blame. During divorce, we often demonize our exes or, if adultery was involved, the affair partner. We see them as one-dimensional, somehow less than human. We envision their actions as targeted, directed to wound us.
Rarely is that the case. We take their responses personally when, in reality, he or she is acting from a place of their own fear and pain, with all the messy human fall-out that follows. Strive to separate the person from the actions and the actions from the intentions. Work to see your former partner in three dimensions – the good, the bad and the ugly. Realize that you cannot always change the circumstances, but you can always change your response. Accept what is, let go of what is not and move on to what be.
In contrast to the outward orientation of blame, shame thrives in the hidden dark recesses of our soul. Shame whispers to us, telling us that we are unlovable and that we will not be accepted for who we are. It convinces us that the divorce occurred because we are somehow less than others or unable to perform as expected. It tells us to hide, to cover. That if anyone caught sight of our true selves, they would run away in disgust.
Shame is the vampire of the voices. It requires dark to live, flourishing in secrecy. To defeat shame, expose it to the light. Find a safe place to share – a counselor, a support group, a friend – and reveal your darkest thoughts and most shameful beliefs. Simply by expressing them, you will quiet its voice. When others begin to share their own experiences with shame, it will help to permanently muffle its damaging whispers.
This is often the loudest of the five voices of divorce. It screams about the unfairness of the situation. It rails against the loss of the marriage and the loss of an expected future. It lashes out at anyone foolish enough to enter its path. It’s a powerful voice and often keeps us moving in those days when we would rather collapse on the floor. It’s a caustic voice; however, speaking words of hatred and indignation that keep others at arm’s length and keep us in a perpetual state of boiling.
Anger is especially difficult to dispel when it feels justified, as in the case of infidelity or other misdeeds. We grasp onto it; it’s the one thing that no one else can take from us and so we hold on for dear life. Because if the anger is gone, we may have to face the despair.
Anger and gratitude are mutually exclusive. When your ire is up, counteract it with thankfulness. At first, it will feel forced and foreign. But keep practicing, and it will become second nature. For a truly life-changing exercise, try writing a list of all the reasons you are grateful for the person or situation that has caused you the most suffering. It won’t be easy, but you’ll never look at it the same way again.
Fear is not the loudest voice post-divorce but it is often the most influential. Fear tells us that the risk of further pain is too great. It encourages us to seek shelter and construct walls rather than chance vulnerability again. It is a persuasive voice, trying to convince us that living a half life with limits is better than living a full life with risks.
Fear is especially great in those who have been betrayed. It is so difficult to trust again, to be willing to put faith in another and, even more so, to have faith in yourself.
You can trust again. It’s a trust born from strength and intention. It comes from being present and truthful. It hopes for the best but does not fear the worst.
It understands that you cannot control another but you can always depend on yourself. It’s a trust that believes that you are strong enough to make it through anything.
A trust that one day you will no longer hear the five voices of divorce and that your voice, strong and true and uniquely yours, will carry through your life and inspire others to live fully as well.
By Lisa Arends