By Karen McMahon
The season of divorce often feels like we are living on a battlefield as we avoid explosive mines, shield ourselves from incoming attacks and occasionally toss emotional grenades at the other side.
My divorce lasted 3 ½ years, engaging in the battle became my normal way of being for over 40 months. When my divorce was final, I had to consciously step into a different way of being in order to let go and move on. Here are a few things I learned and would like to share with you.
Take Off Your Divorce Armor
It is essential that we ‘armor up’ when entering divorce – most especially when it is a high conflict divorce. At a minimum, this requires us to raise our boundaries to protect ourselves.
For instance, we reevaluate what a healthy level of trust in our soon-to-be-ex looks like. Perhaps everything he or she says is not to be blindly believed and agreed upon. Choosing when and how to engage is part of our armor. Protecting our privacy, personal activities, finances and strategies may all be part of this divorce armor.
Once the divorce is final, much of our uncertainty melts away and it is time to let go and move on.
We know the exact figures of our equitable distribution, spousal maintenance and child support.
We know the shared parenting schedule we’ve agreed to and the checks and balances we’ve put into place to handle co parenting difficulties.
We know how our ex behaves, what triggers us and what to expect in our engagement with him/her. If we have done our inner work, we have stepped into acceptance of ourselves, our ex and our circumstances. We are free of our old baggage and ready to move forward.
Disarming ourselves means consciously choosing to ‘stop fighting’ so we can let go and move on. This is where ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ is immensely valuable. If you are co parenting and your ex is hyper focused on being on time or alternately, often late…expect and accept that this is his/her typical behavior. Plan for it rather than react to it. Let go of the ‘it’s not fair’ (it isn’t…but neither is much of life) and engage with what is. He or she may be telling your mutual friends a story about your divorce that you don’t agree with. You have no contol over what is said or done, so let it go.
Disarming is noticing the ‘dance’ that the two of you have done for years while married and then through the battle and consciously choosing to step away from it. It involves creating new healthier responses to your ex and investing your energy away from ‘us’ and into ‘me’. Which brings me to the 2nd Key:
Shift Your Focus
Your future is an empty canvas ready to express your dreams and desires. Your past is done, complete and requires none of your attention.
The Windsheild is significantly larger than the rear view mirror – Likewise your focus should follow a similar ratio – very little on the past and keen attention on the present and future.
Focus is where so many get tripped up. If you are still watching what your ex is doing, who he/she is dating, how much money is being spent or what time with the kids involves, you are wasting your vital energy which would be better invested in creating your now and future. If you cannot control it (and you cannot!), let it go.
This is YOUR TIME! Time to move on! Focus on your new friends, the interests you put aside to attend to your spouse and kids, dust off your dreams of fitness, hobbies, and travel and begin creating your new normal.
If you have kids, use the time they are with their other parent to enjoy resting, socializing, exercising and dating.
If focusing on yourself is difficult, the problem is an internal one. It is NOT out there, but rather between your ears. This too is an opportunity.
Begin to explore why it is so difficult to focus on yourself. Perhaps you have been a caretaker all your life and are lost in this new freedom.
What support do you need to begin to strengthen yourself in this area?
If you are hearing excuses in your head such as, “I am too old, too poor, have no friends, just want my old life back, don’t have interests or hobbies…”, it is time to recalibrate!
Which brings me to the 3rd Key
Intentionally Create Your Next Chapter
Begin small and realistic and grow into your greater dreams. You can and will create the life you desire IF you believe it. It is that simple.
Have fun with this. A great exercise is to journal about what you desire and get microscopic in your detail.
What is an ideal day or weekend in your post divorce life?
Want a new job or career? What does it look like? Don’t go directly to job searching. First search your heart and scan your experience. Once you are crystal clear on what you want to do, you are ready to begin talking to people and searching for it.
If you had no fear and no obstacles, what would you create in your new life?
What does your ideal partner look like? What do you want and why? Getting clear on the person you would consider your soul mate is always the first step. Describe all his/her attributes and describe the flow and essence of the relationship as well.
If your housing is temporary, use the exercise above to find the home of your dreams.
As yu do this exercise, you may watch your mind go to all that you don’t want. No worries, just start there and then turn every negative into a positive – this in and of itself is a great exercise to begin shifting your mind to a constant positive focus.
Life post divorce is not perfect. It will be difficult at times yet can be immensely more pleasing than your past.
The beauty is you are free to let go, move on and determine what your new life will look and feel like.
The more you believe in your power to manifest your life’s next chapter through thought and action, the quicker you will move in your desired direction.
We actually never arrive – because life is a journey. Don’t wait for the destination. Enjoy the ride. Learn from it. Get charged by it. Let it blow your skirt up!!
Always pass your wisdom onto your children so they can stand on the shoulders of your struggles and experiences.
Let go. Move on. See positives in both the difficult and the delightful.
Note: If you feel unprepared for this next leg of the journey, there is no better time than now to begin the work that will free you from past unhealthy behaviors and further upset and set you on a brilliant journey into your new and more pleasing normal! Get started here
Karen McMahon is a Certified Life Coach and Founder of Journey Beyond Divorce. She began divorce coaching in 2010 after recognizing that the agony of her dissolving marriage had led her on a transformational journey into an incredible new life. Karen and her a team of professional coaches have created a 21st Century Divorce Support Membership Site which has supported scores of men and women to navigate their divorce with greater ease. Start your trial month here.