During a national tragedy like they’re experiencing in Houston TX this week and parts of the south (News Flash: my son is at college down south so now I’m watching the weather with eager anticipation each day.) it’s often difficult for those going through separation and divorce to know just how to feel.
Are they supposed to be less concerned for themselves than those in dire situations? Are they supposed to be numb to their own pain or to put country and community above themselves? Are they feeling awful about themselves because they’ve no more room to care about anyone else but themselves at the moment?
During separation, heartache, and divorce feeling justified in one’s own pain becomes confusing. I hope to be able to shed some light and give you permission to feel your feelings and know you are safe.
When you’re dealing with heartache, personal trauma, separation, and divorce, it may seem as if you’re in a constant state of emergency. You’re exhausted from the fighting and fear. Worried about the next decision. Confused about which direction to go in. And afraid you’re going to lose everything: money, status, your children, your home, your things ALL THE TIME!
I want to give you permission to feel your despair. To know that you’re justified in being frightened and at the same time, to believe you’re also going to get through these days no matter how you may feel in the moment. (Just like those in Houston are going to get their feet back under them as well.) Eventually, your life will move in the right direction no matter how difficult it is right this moment.
Try to believe that because it’s true! Eventually, your divorce will be behind you and, as I say to my children, you can feel bad or you can feel optimistic, either way, the work needs to be done; the work (your divorce) doesn’t care how you feel about doing it.
How come the world is watching Houston and everyone seemingly is getting help and attention but you’re not being given the support you desperately need? The difficult thing is that it feels at times as if no one gets it. Your friends and family can’t deal with the ongoing fighting - literally the years it can take to become divorced and to get your feet back under you. And all the world is paying attention to Houston at this very moment. It can seem very unfair.
I remember going through my divorce while all the world was watching a celebrity couple breaking up in a very public way. Here they were being showered with attention and the court of public opinion eagerly weighed in on the innocence of the wife and the bad behavior of the husband. It was all I could do to keep myself from screaming!
During your divorce, it may feel as if you’re all alone and at times, the deeply personal healing is truly you with you. No one else can take on what you’re up against. These are difficult moments. They’re also gifts as difficult as that is to hear.
I am grateful my ugliness stayed within my small circle of friends and family instead of being seen by the entire world caring enough about me and my personal drama. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to become strong enough to write and to teach and mentor without having my personal lessons be strewn across newspapers and the media for all to see.
The news media and the cameras are going to leave these people and go to the next big event - whether positive or negative. You know that. You also know how difficult the day in and day out activities for these families will be. Try to keep in perspective just what all this attention means when the waters recede and they have to get to work rebuilding their lives (sort of like what you're doing all the time!)
Eventually, your divorce will be behind you - you too will once again lift your head up and look toward the future. Your pain and your lessons are deeply personal and for that, be grateful you’ve got some semblance of privacy. You are not alone - I am right here sharing your pain while holding out the possibility of your speedy recovery and healing.
What are you to do? How can you give to others when you’ve barely got enough for yourself?Those of you who are religious and believe in giving will have no trouble donating time, money, and your personal energy to those in need. Others of you dealing with your own ongoing trauma are going to feel torn between writing a check to the American Red Cross or taking care of your own legal bills and personal expenses needing your attention. I get it!
There is no right or wrong answer in this moment. I want to give you permission to take care of yourself, your energy, your mind, your body, your family before giving and giving and giving more of yourself. Yes, those families need our help. However, you’re family also needs help. Your health and your family’s safety are just as important to your community as those who can offer help to the families in Houston and parts of Louisiana. It’s important to remember to “put your oxygen mask on first” before helping others.
Lastly, separation and divorce take a very long time. They are man-made decisions between adults. They have justifiable reasons and explanations. The law and the courts weigh in on many of the steps and decisions for a family moving forward. It’s difficult to stay the course over the long haul - just like it’s going to be really difficult for families in Houston to deal with their lives being totally disrupted by Mother Nature!
We know, going through heartache and divorce, just how difficult it is to keep up one’s spirits. You have way more experience than some others at getting out of bed each day, putting a smile on your face (no matter how fake) and managing your home, your job, and your family with a certain amount of heaviness and pain. You know what it takes.
Those just beginning their long ordeal need our thoughts and prayers. They need to believe they’ll get through these changes. They need to believe - just as you’ve had to learn - that they’ll become stronger and more resilient for the next families struck with loss and tragedy. No one gets to go through this lifetime unscathed no matter what we think.
And though divorce is an equal opportunity experience, so are the effects of Mother Nature’s wrath. We’re all subject to the whims that life sometimes throws our way. And though it may not seem fair, seldom does fairness get doled out during our life lessons.
I truly believe you are stronger than you realize. I truly believe in the grace that mankind has to offer others - as we’re witnessing between neighbor and neighbor in Houston. You are able to give your family and your community grace and generosity; you’re also allowed to ask for a hug, a moment of peace with your kids, a chance to say thank you, and the belief that your future will get better. I believe in you and all you have to offer.
As a simple reminder and offer, Laura Bonarrigo's doingDivorce™ School begins the end of September. Reach out, look for my notifications and know, I believe in you!