When divorce comes slamming into our life, it’s like a tornado touches down, often without warning, and we are left standing in the middle of the rubble in utter disbelief, wondering “What happened to my life?!”
In those agonizing days when I first realized that my then-husband had a girlfriend he was not going to give up, I thought back to an experience from my childhood.
Life Disasters: The Tornado of Divorce
My Dad was in charge of the Kansas National Guard in the 1950’s when a tornado completely leveled the town of Udall, Kansas. My mom, brother and I drove to Udall to see for ourselves what had happened.
My Dad had been in World War II with Patton’s Third Army, and had been part of disaster-relief duty after he got home from the War. He helped when there was any kind of natural disaster. The life challenge I was experiencing was not just a physical disaster, but an emotional, spiritual and social upheaval as well.
My life felt like the total destruction I remember seeing in Udall that day after the tornado. Everything I thought was solid ground was gone. My intact family. Many of my social connections. My security. My dreams for the future. My life partner. All were gone in that one overwhelming, crushing whirlwind when I realized my then-husband wanted a different woman and a different life.
Facing Life Disasters:
Sometime after the Udall disaster, my dad said, “Almost any serious life disaster creates two basic responses in the people involved:
- People who waste way too much precious time whining, complaining and thinking their lives are ruined. They are paralyzed by their losses.
- People who grieve their losses fully, then face the situation head-on. They immediately start taking some concrete action to fix the mess.”
I call these two responses: People who live in Fantasyland and people who live in Realsville
Below are the characteristics of people who live in those two very different places:
- Someone or something outside of myself determines my happiness
- My future depends on the actions of someone else
- Circumstances determine my level of contentment
- Life is out of my control
- I will never be as happy as I was
- I am in charge of my own happiness
- I determine my future by my own actions
- I can choose to be content
- I can control my thinking, my actions and my attitude
- I can be as happy or as miserable as I decide to be
Where have you been living since your divorce?
Last night in one of my RADiCAL midlife divorce recovery classes, we were discussing grief and forgiveness during and after divorce.
After disasters like destructive tornadoes or an unwanted divorce, we have to grieve. We have to face fully our losses. Last night, we discussed that we have to give ourselves permission to mourn the losses.
But then, after we face the reality of our situation right now, we have to start figuring out what we need to do to move forward. For a while, we may still be sobbing as we clean up the mess, but we have to take concrete actions to fix things. We have to learn to be content with every small action we take in the right direction.
We have to be patient with the process of recovery and repair. We can’t immediately fix all of the destruction after a tornado. And we’ll probably have to mourn again when we find the box of pictures of our old life in the rubble.
It’s the same with divorce. As we process the destruction, we sometimes have to revisit the losses…. but the important thing is we keep moving forward. We get friends, family and people who have been on this road before us to help. If we don’t, we usually get stuck and stop moving altogether.
What can we learn from others who have faced loss like this?
- We can move from Pain back to Power
- We can move from Grief to Gratitude for everything we still have
- We can move from Hurt to Healing and then finally back to Happiness again.
So, if you’ve recently been through the tornado of divorce and find yourself still wallowing in Fantasyland, paralyzed and unable to move forward, learn from people who have survived and created adventurous, and purposeful new lives after divorce. They have also learned that love and laughter are there to grab again.
Why don’t you move to Realsville with us?
Life is amazing here, and the cool thing is, we always get to choose.
To start moving to Realsville, go to my website in my bio below this article and click on the banner for a FREE 10-day online Divorce Recovery CRASH COURSE. It’s a first step to taking charge of your life again.