I have three words for those who can’t cope with divorce. Here they are:
Enjoy. Each. Day.
Why these three words? Here’s the story. A reader commented on one of my blog posts, stating that “divorce is a fate worse than death.”
Now, my gut reaction to this statement was that this reader has obviously never experienced the death of someone close to him. Otherwise, he would not have written this. I can speak firsthand, as someone who went through a divorce and who lost my father. Two entirely different things, and I’ll take the divorce over that any day of the week.
That said, I do feel for this guy, because for him to write such a bold statement, he is obviously in a lot of pain, and he is suffering immensely. We don’t know what his divorce is like. Maybe his wife left, maybe she has turned his kids against him, maybe he is financially in trouble, or maybe he is suffering from loneliness. So for him, he can’t imagine the death of a loved one being any harder than what he is experiencing.
Enter another reader, who responded to this dark statement.
Dude, take a pill. Divorce is not a fate worse than death. For example, I am divorced. I started my day with a run by the river, and then met my girlfriend for brunch. After that, I went to the movies and then had a long call with my Dad about nothing before having a beer. It’s been a pretty good day so far. I haven’t been dead before, so I can’t say definitively, but just going out on a limb, I’d say this is not a fate worse than death.
Reading this response was like a breath of fresh air to me. The title of his comment, by the way, was “How I spent my day.”
Why did it feel so good to read this? Because this reader understands something that many people going through a divorce or who are already divorced don’t. He seems to live by the three words: Enjoy. Each. Day.
Let me back up. No one wants to be divorced. But, it happens. The pain of divorce can be unbearable. Your ex can do unspeakably horrible things to you. The process can seem really, really unfair and exhausting. And, the regret you might feel can make things seem hopeless. But all these things have one thing in common: they are all out of your control.
You might not have wanted the divorce. Maybe your spouse just told you one day, “I met someone else, I want a divorce.” Or, maybe you did want the divorce because you had no choice (because of abuse, for example.) In either scenario, you had little or no control. You don’t have control of someone cheating, you don’t have control of a substance abuse issue, and you don’t have control over someone deciding it’s over. To an extent, we everyone has some control over the success of our romantic relationships. In other words, you can put in effort to keep your marriage healthy, but a lot of things are out of your control, mainly your spouse’s behavior, words and actions. Additionally, you have little or no control over the court system, other than to trust your attorney and educate yourself so you can make good decisions.
What many people don’t know how to do is to take all the things they can’t control, put them on a plate and set them aside. Doing this makes room for what you CAN control, which is what you choose to do each day of your life.
I’ll start with this example. You can wake up and do one of these two things:
#1. You can lay there thinking, ‘The house is empty. My ex is waking up with his new girlfriend, happy as can be.’ ‘My kids are at their house and they love her.’ ‘I am going to be alone forever.’ You can then cry and worry about it all day, sit around watching old “Friends” episodes and order a pizza.
#2 You can wake up and look out the window and see that the sun is shining. You can think, ‘What do I want to do on this beautiful day that is such a gift to me?’ ‘Do I want to go for a walk, call a girlfriend, go shopping, plan a vacation, go see my family, do some volunteer work?’ ‘What do I want for breakfast? I can have anything I want!’
Think about my reader. He went for a run, ate brunch, went to a movie, talked with his dad, had a beer. That sounds like a great day! I’m sure things weren’t or aren’t easy for him for the simple fact that he is divorced, and nothing is easy about that. But, he is choosing to enjoy his day.
He probably doesn’t do this every day, and no one is expected to be perky and happy every minute of every day. There are times we can nurture ourselves and let ourselves feel the pain of what happened to us, but in the coming months, more and more days should be spent going back to basics and doing what we love, seeing people we enjoy, experiencing and learning new things, and doing what makes us happy and makes us feel fulfilled.
I tell newly separated people who are really in the thick of feeling crappy that they should take some time every single day to enjoy something. It might be an activity with the kids, trying a new restaurant, walking in a garden, performing a kind or charitable act. Even if you do one thing that makes you realize the beauty of life, your day can’t be that bad.
Enjoy. Each. Day. because there will always be crap we all have to deal with (whether going through a divorce or not). Problems will always be present. We solve them and then new ones come up. Most we can handle, but there are some we can’t. Believe me, divorce is one that you can handle. I promise! So, set aside the problems you can’t control but will eventually solve, and find simple pleasures in life. Do kind things that make you feel good. Laugh a lot. And of course, love love love the ones you love.
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.