Let’s be clear, most of my divorcing clients were blindsided when their spouse asked them for a divorce. They all knew things weren’t great in their marriage but divorce? It was not on their radar. They accepted that this is life and I’ll deal with the cards I have been dealt but divorce definitely was not the card they thought was in their deck. Many of us who are faced with devastating news don’t quite know what to think, how to feel or what next steps to take. The various stages of grief seem to hit all at once or we become numb. We’re angry, we’re sad, we think about what if I do this or if I do that? Or we ignore our feelings and just keep going on with life as we know it. What are some of the steps we can take from being blown a sucker punch to our gut and face at the same time to allowing for space to grieve and at the same time, allowing for possibilities of a different life in the future.
In our past series on trauma, I had shared how I had had a double trauma several years back which caused me to take a journey, which I now call my personal one year journey. The double trauma happened days apart. The relationship I was in ended abruptly within days after my aunt’s sudden death. The grief overwhelmed me to the point that I could not stop crying. For anyone who has known me through the years, you all know my tear ducts are just about broken. Not to say I don’t feel, just that the tears don’t flow. I knew that after weeks of not being able to sleep, not able to stop crying, I needed help.
This help began for me in the form of a conference that touched on trauma, whether the trauma be with a capital T or a little t. After the conference, I started meeting with a therapist on a weekly basis. For an entire year, I sat on the same sofa being asked questions to help me become curious about myself and to be open to have the mirror reflect back to me things about myself and about who I was and who I was not. As long as I was willing to be open and curious enough to explore my present and my past, there were shifts happening in me. Areas my brain had locked up in order to protect myself started to open up and as I was willing to explore those locked up areas, I was able to grow in ways I did not even know I had growing to do. And in a year’s time, the curiosity, and the willingness to be open to learning more about myself has brought me into a whole new life and a life filled with possibilities and purpose.
The year I spent on my therapists couch every Monday afternoon at 4pm has helped me continue to be curious and open to learning more about myself and allowing growth and change. Without the weekly conversations, without the learning of new tools and new insights about myself, I would not be able to share in many of my clients’ journeys through their divorce, their current trauma. I would not be able to encourage my clients to hope and to believe that there is life after divorce and this life may be their best life yet. Without the weekly conversations with my therapist, I would not be in a position to have conversation with my clients as I have the privilege to have and to help them to have hope for the possibility of their best lives to come.
An assignment I give to every client and even every person I meet for a consultation is the best life post-divorce exercise. I ask my clients to write on paper how they see their lives 1-3 years after divorce. Another one for 5-10 years post-divorce and some for into the retirement years.
I currently have a coaching client who came to me scared for the future. Her husband had already moved on to a new life and wanted to finalize the divorce. He wanted to sell the family home and she was not ready yet. She wanted to wait at least a full year until their youngest was out of high school.
I asked her to think about what her future life could look like 1-3 years from now and she was curious and open enough to allow herself to dream just a little. She was still scared of each step she was taking but as she allowed herself to dive a little deeper into her curiosity and be a little more open to imagining where she would live, the type of life she imagined herself to live, she made the decision to sell the marital home and to sell it as soon as possible, much to her husband’s surprise and delight.
In her curiosity and her willingness to be open to change and even look into the unknown future, as scary as each step felt, she decided that once the marital home was sold, she wanted to move to a different state and start a fresh new life with her kids. Because she was willing to step into the unknown, stay curious and be willing to look at what options were out there for her and to imagine how she saw her best life to look like post-divorce, she is about a month out from receiving the keys to her custom built new home which she will own in her own name. purchased with the funds from the sale of her marital home. Because we were able to strategically make choices for her future, once she moves to her new home, in the new state, she will not have to worry about needing to find a job immediately. She now has time to settle into her new home, meet her neighbors, find a new community without the pressures of needing to pay her bills.
My client is still scared of the what if and the unknowns. In our conversations, we talk about the fears and talk about the what ifs. We look at the finances and double check to see how the numbers will work out but in the 7 months we have been working together, I celebrate her bravery and her strength, for her willingness to allow for curiosity and hope for a different future. I celebrate each step she has taken for her to be the author of her own life story and to be willing to lift the anchors which she had set down years back when she got married with a different life in mind, a different story she had written for herself and her future.
I am so proud of all the brave steps she has taken and the bravest first step she took was to be curious and open to a new future.
Next week on Build Your Foundations, we will do a deeper dive on imagining our best lives. We hope you will join us and be a part of the conversation.
The One Year Journey is currently available for those who are at a crossroad in their lives and are ready to launch into a year-long intensive series of one-on-one coaching to help you go from not knowing what may come next to becoming your best self and living your best life.* We are also very excited to share that Group Coaching and Support will be available in the near future.
* There is no guarantee of becoming your best self and living your best life. Foundations Divorce Solutions and Foundations Coaching Group will help guide our clients through the journey, but the change will happen if and when the individual does the hard work themselves. The results will not be an overnight transformation. This process will take at least one full year and as the tools learned are implemented into a daily practice, change will continue, and growth will continue to happen.