A divorce is not going to make whole what you didn’t resolve in the marriage. You are ending the marriage that you had, not the marriage you shouldhave had. And herein lies the opportunity, for any time we address “life on life’s terms” and make decisions accordingly, we are orienting ourselves to what is. Working with what is, is the only way to create meaningful, sustainable change – to shape a life reflecting what you ultimately want. There is freedom to look honestly at what didn’t work and choose to do things differently – to line things up with your values and preferences.
Eliminate criticism and judgment. Examine the facts. This creates the possibility for creative decision making and skillful action.
Eckhart Tolle, in his book A New Earth says, and I paraphrase, “The present moment is all we have. Fortunately, it’s also all we need.”Essentially, all that is curative can take place in this very moment. The past doesn’t get fixed up in the past – no matter how much time or energy we spend revisiting it, shaking the dust from it, rearranging and examining it – we are still completely powerless over it. Our power is in the present. So the past, whatever it involved, created certain realities that are alive in the present. It also created feelings that are equally alive in the now.
What do we do with the unfairness that developed in the marriage or is a result of the divorce? How do we resolve issues hitherto unresolveable? We can address all of this by acknowledging what is, the feelings surrounding what is, and the current needs resulting from those facts and feelings. We can get our needs heard and often met. And that is healing. “When people get what they need, they heal,” said a wonderful therapist colleague. A famous line from a play says, reflecting on an unmet childhood wish, “I don’t want it now, I want it then.”
Ahhhh, but then is no more. We can’t have it then, but we can address the feelings of loss, sorrow, and anger that we have now. We can meet those feelings in ways they weren’t met in the past. We can meet them with compassion, gentleness and grace. We can begin to investigate what we need and begin to give ourselves just that. We can’t get it fixed up for back then or redo it so we’ll feel differently now. We can greet ourselves, one another, and our current reality (which was likely created by doing our best with what we had available at the time) and we can simply ask: how do I feel and what do I need?
Now is the time to practice kindness and compassion towards yourself and fully inhabit the present. Beating ourselves up gives us a false sense that we are actually doing something, but in reality it is diverting energy that could otherwise be used constructively.
Begin with this gentle self-inquiry:
- What feelings am I experiencing now as a result of what happened during my marriage?
- What can I do to care for myself and the uncomfortable feelings I’m experiencing?
- What kinds of support do I need now?