Only a few people who undergo divorce see the shaft of light at the end of a long and winding tunnel. Most live or relive it as one of the darkest chapters in their life history, a living hell on earth like Dante’s raging inferno. This is especially true for those who feel they are on the vanquished side of a court proceeding or legal settlement.
Dr. Bella De Paulo, in an article written on Psychology Today, dissected the factors that make a divorcee feel getting the shorter end of the stick, as it were, or being at the losing end of the bargain. These are:
• History of psychological issues
• Anxious attachment to one’s spouse
• Dwelling on the experience
• Reliving the specifics
• Failing to achieve personal growth from the experience
One of these, or some or even all of these factors can be present in a divorcee’s inability to survive the experience. But today, I’d like to put the spotlight on the final phrase, the last factor on the list. I believe that failing to achieve personal growth from divorce is the major obstacle that impedes recovery from this harrowing experience.
For most of those who have undergone divorce, it all boils down to the basic human nature of wanting to be on the winning side and shunning the losing corner. Everybody loves a winner, as they say. But the sad truth is that the experience of divorce is not about the shallow choice of victory and defeat. It is about submerging and looking at the hidden gems within yourself, enriching your life learnings and taking stock of your missteps and pearls of wisdom, then harvesting the right lessons and perspectives from the deepest ocean beds to surface a better person and diver of life’s deeper insights.
As it most divorce aftermaths, some do not end well. Some end up friends — but no more benefits. Some end up as awkward co-parents of their kid(s), their shared offspring. For those whose experiences do not end well like Dante’s inferno, sometimes it will be for the betterment of everyone that each of you will no longer be a factor in his or her life. Each of the points that DePaulo cited above, specifically the first four, may be grounded in the feeling of still wanting to cling to or end up with one’s former spouse — a wish for a Disney story happy ending, not a Grimm’s fairy tale or a Shakespearean tragedy.
Considering the first four factors, clinging on with no clarity or hope in sight will eventually be an unhealthy way of living — physically, emotionally, socially. It is only through a laser focus on the last factor, a quest for personal clarity and enrichment of experience, can one hope to overcome the issues associated with the divorce.
Take a look at yourself and ask that person in the reflection: How am I going to improve from this? How am I going to emerge from the shadows and the deep? By being able to satisfactory answer these questions, you are more likely to control of your destiny, to take stock of whatever mistakes you made and take over the power to determine who you want and need to be.
For those whose divorce did not end well, the ex is mostly done trying to help the concerned individual be a better person. The ex is already focused in his or her own life and well-being. Instead, you have to start looking for your own.
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