Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Love and Letting Go

Life is pretty good lately. I've had some pretty great ups and some really down downs over the last year or so. I've made some beautiful friends and met some brilliant people. And I've seen the ugly and dark side of people, some of whom I've know nearly my whole life. But I've also seen the brightest, most marvelous side of humanity also. I'm happy. But then again, happy comes easy for me. I'm lucky.

There is something else that I have seen a lot of lately: Divorce. It may just be that when you drive a Porsche, you see it everywhere, but it seems like among my contemporaries, divorce is happening a lot. It's interesting how some people think of that word. The usual response to my declaration of being divorced is, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" To which I always reply, "Don't be. It was the best decision of my adult life. My ex-husband and I are really great friends and we're still a family."

So, I'm here to tell you that divorce doesn't have to be ugly. Now I don't know very much. I don't have any fancy letters after my name, but I do have experience, and I do have a LOT of books on my bookshelves - I've even read most of them! And I know a lot of really smart people. And I've witnessed some really evolved and dare I say, beautiful divorces. (gasp!) And so I'm going to tell you the few secrets I have for getting through a divorce. You can thrive! And be happy!! Please take this for what it's worth... which isn't much. But I do remember times during my marriage when I felt like divorce wasn't an option. I felt like it was the end of something that was supposed to be beautiful. I felt like divorce was ugly and scary and filled with fighting and anger. Perhaps if someone had given me a different view of divorce, I might have made the decision sooner.

Tip Number One:
What would Jesus do? (By the way, the answer is LOVE.)
At the time of my separation, I was very religious. And the general idea was that this was a decision was one that I should make with the help of God or the Spirit or whatever Deity would give me some guidance. Well, I've never been one for following the rules or listening to authority. And besides, if this was the wrong decision, I needed to be able to blame it on no one but myself. So all I asked of my family, my god, and my religious leaders was love and support. I didn't ask for advice. And when I went in to talk to my ecclesiastical leader, I told him as much. To his infinite credit, all he said to me was this: "Well, then I would offer only this: When you are interacting with your husband and children during this process, just act as Jesus would act towards them."

Today, I am not a religious person. I no longer believe in an Abrahamic omnipotent god who hears and answers prayers. But I do believe that the New Testament has a beautiful story of a man who loved. He loved everyone, the sinner and the poor, the politician and the fisherman, children, his friends, his family, those who stood by him, and even those who didn't. What greater advice is there than to love? All you need is love. And isn't that what I would want?

But when my ex husband started dating, I was shocked. He got over me REALLY fast. He started introducing our boys to his new friends. And I had to swallow my pride. Now I'm not perfect and I did throw a couple of good tantrums about what I thought was inappropriate about his actions. But then I listened to my kids. And as it turned out, they liked their dad's new friend. She was nice to them. And she helped him to be a better dad. (I was pretty lucky.) And one day I met her. And... (gasp)... I liked her! I shouldn't have been so surprised! He was married to me for ten years. He has pretty good taste. Anyhow, that relationship didn't last. And there were several other "friends" that my kids never met. But the few that the kids did meet, so did I. I made friends with them. And it turns out... he still has pretty good taste in women. And honestly... more adults in a child's life who love them and take an interest in their well being IS A GOOD THING! And considering that, it turns out, I really love the new people in my kids' lives. And I still love my ex husband. It's just different now. The only thing of which I had to let go, was my own pride.

Which brings me to...
Tip Number Two:
Let it go.
Let go of pride. Let go of being right. And for pete's sake, let go of your perceptions of what divorce is supposed to be! It's a hard thing to find a healthy balance of caring and not caring. That person that cut you off? Try not to care! The person in line in front of you that can't make up their mind? Try not to care! The Sunday School teacher that passive aggressively tells you to shut up? Try not to care! Your ex who doesn't pay as much child support as he (or she) should? Try not to care! Now, this is not to say that you should roll over and let people take advantage of you. DON'T DO THAT! Just try to let go of the anger and offense that is associated with it. Anger can be used to get results.... but you risk the chance of your kids picking up on that anger. And your kids NEED to have a good relationship with BOTH of their parents. They need to know that they are still a part of a family! Now, you may be able to use your children to guilt the other parent into doing the "right thing"... but at what cost? Your child will not be able to trust their parents. EITHER ONE! And so let it go! You will be so much happier when you are able to let go of the anger and pettiness. And guess what? When it leaves... there is more room for love and happiness. It's pretty grand.

And so there you have it. Two whole tips. LOVE and LET IT GO. And here's the real secret... When you do this, it gives others (including your ex and your kids) the permission do it also.