Option n. Divorce Recovery Mindset # 4: Is Your Divorce A Past Life Event Or A Present Way Of Life?
Signs that your ex is still present in your life
When asked about their divorce, pretty much everyone says, “I’ve moved on,” and then they proceed to talk about what an idiot their ex was. Then they can make “harmless” comments about the “questionable character” of the person they are dating. Often times, the “if only” give it away: If only my ex had done this, or if only he or she hadn’t done that, my life would be better.
And then there is “The Wedding”. Not your ex’s wedding; not your wedding. Your son’s wedding! And the nightmare-inspiring fear that you’ll miss it. Why? Because your ex will be there!
These are all indications that your divorce is still an integral part of your life today. They mean that you may not have “moved on” as much as you would like to believe. In fact, you could consider your divorce as part of your current lifestyle.
Remember: if you are still carrying your ex on your head, your ex is still a part of your life.
Is your pain past or present?
What did your ex do to you today? Probably nothing. So why does it appear so often in your thoughts when you’re just trying to get on with living your life?
Are you regularly reviewing the memories of your ex and / or your divorce? Are you rekindling the emotions caused by your divorce that happened months or years ago? When you bring thoughts and feelings triggered by your divorce to the forefront of your mind, you are giving those remembered memories the status of “present importance.” This has the effect of making your divorce part of your daily “way of life.”
If the memories of your ex and the divorce keep popping up over and over again, you might ask yourself, “What benefit am I getting from allowing my divorce to become a way of life?”
Divorce is a Lifestyle – The positive
The science of human motivation tells us that if we continue to do something over and over again that we presumably don’t want to do, then we will gain some kind of benefit from doing it, or simply stop doing it. What possible benefit could you be receiving from inviting your ex into your current lifestyle?
Here are some possible benefits. Treating your divorce like a way of life can:
1. Provide a well-defined frame of reference for your life within which you can play your role as the victim of a tragedy. It is easy to do and be seen as the victim earns you the compassion and support of others. It feels good to be told that “they did you wrong” and that you have no responsibility for the death of your marriage.
2. Eliminate the need to ask such complicated questions as “Who am I now that my relationship is over?” Now, “How was I responsible for the death of my marriage?” Now, “What can I learn from my divorce?” However, “Will my new life after divorce be even worse than my life before divorce?”
3. Eradicate the need to seek a new relationship, along with the fear of having to start dating again, because you still have your ex to occupy your thoughts and fantasies.
Divorce is a Lifestyle – The Down
However, there is a downside to treating your divorce as a way of life:
1. You miss the opportunity to create a new life based on the wisdom you gained from your past relationship and going through the divorce.
2. You never get to create and know “the new you”.
3. Friends and family soon get tired of you living in the past and talking about it incessantly. The rest of the world is passing by, but you cannot be a part of it. This makes you feel sad and depressed.
4. No meaningful future is possible, or even desired. Having given yourself permission to wallow in the memories of a time in the past, you have everything you need.
5. Friends will eventually move on without you, except those who are also living in the past.
Divorce is just a Life event – Thim backwards
On the other hand, treating your divorce as simply a traumatic event that happened in your past can be very rewarding:
1. You can design and live the next chapter of your life as you wish.
2. You can live in the present and you don’t have to keep talking about your divorce with your friends and family.
3. Your relationships with friends and family are not poisoned by your constant anger, resentment, and victimization.
4. Your friends will appreciate you not putting them in the awkward position of having to treat you like a constant victim of a terrible life.
Divorce is just a Life event – The down
Of course, there are also some disadvantages:
1. He has nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. It is entirely up to you, and only you, to decide what your life will become after the divorce.
2. You can’t use the “poor me” script to be a victim.
3. You must take full responsibility for your future, including your successes and failures.
So what is the point? Why does that matter?
Simple logic tells us: if you are living in the past, you cannot live in the present. You can’t plan ahead either!
You’re at a crossroads, a “Y” in the road, so to speak. What fork will you have?
Taking the fork labeled “Divorce is a way of life” condemns you to a life of editing and rewriting the past, in the hope that someday, somehow, you can change what happened to you yesterday.
Taking the fork labeled “Divorce is just a life event” allows you to put the past in the past so that you can design what you want the next chapter in life to be and make the most of all the positive potential it offers.
Dissolving resistance to change is the key. By dissolving your resistance to accepting the new situation in your life, including the reality that your divorce is a thing of the past, you will be free to be all that you can be in the next chapter of your life. Only then will you be able to harness your newfound wisdom to advance into your future.