In 2010, I went through, what I thought at the time was, my Armageddon. My now ex-wife, the woman I had intended to spend the rest of my life with, wanted something different. I was on my own and I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly make it through in one piece. My divorce was the most painful and emotional experience I have ever been through, yet I now find myself living a whole new powerful chapter in my life that I am truly grateful for.
Since 2012, I have been coaching men through divorce and separation. Most of these men come to me worried, scared and angry. I get that, because I felt the same way. During my divorce, I was worried about my kids and how they would cope, the financial impact long term, and what my friends and family would think. I was scared I would be alone and be a single dad for the rest of my life, scared I would be perceived as a failure in the business community and scared I would lose friends. Most of all, I was bitterly angry with my ex-wife. Without being consciously aware of it, I stopped taking care of myself, I lost a lot of weight, I shut myself off from friends, family and struggled to stay focused at work. I have to admit, that horrible thought about ending it all even snuck into my mind a couple times.
I recently asked my wife (I remarried in 2013) how I could share my experience with other guys so that they too could powerfully move on with their lives after divorce. She asked me a great question…”If you could travel back in time, what would you have told yourself back then knowing what you know now?”.
I will share with you what I now know to be true in accepting what is!
ACCEPTING WHAT IS
For months, I refused to accept that my marriage was over and I did what most guys would do in my situation; I went into fix it mode. I did things, said things, bought things to make it up to her, but nothing worked. This way of acting towards her put a heavy amount of pressure on our relationship. It wasn’t until I accepted that our marriage was done, that I was able to start moving on with my life.
Accepting the true reality of your situation is the key to moving on with your life after divorce, yet it is the biggest challenge most men face as they deal with the new unwanted reality of their situation. Letting go is hard, but emotionally holding onto the relationship that has clearly ended is self-induced torture.
While you come to accept the new reality of your world, you will likely experience emotions such as guilt (especially if you ended the relationship), anger and depression. Men typically keep everything inside, so seeking professional help to deal with these feelings is a good thing and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I recently met a guy that has spent seven years in his own personal hell all because he won’t accept that his marriage is over and he refuses to get help. You do not want to be that guy!
Once you get to the place of true acceptance, you can start focusing on the life you want for yourself. This is a very powerful place to be. You will be able to start looking at the road ahead rather than the path travelled. Trust me, the pain you once experienced will slowly give way and you will begin to see that there is life after divorce and it can be whatever you chose it to be.
HOW TO ‘ACCEPT WHAT IS’:
Be honest with yourself – True acceptance in recognizing your marriage is over, involves giving up blame, resentment and regret against your spouse and letting these go. I found that looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself that it was over was a powerful way to hear it and accept it.
Recognize that your fears are NOT real – Write down all of your fears in a journal. FEAR stands for false emotions appearing real and you’ll be surprised when you get them down on paper and really look at them, how most are made up BS that will never happen.
Don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional – Find an outsider such as a divorce coach or a Psychologist that specializes in divorce to help you work through your emotions. My advice is NOT to choose a friend or family member; you want someone who is impartial and unbiased to your situation.
Spend time with yourself…alone – Being around your soon to be ex or living in the same matrimonial home while going through a divorce is torture. Either move out if you can financially afford it (please seek advice from a lawyer before you move out), or move to the basement / spare bedroom to give yourself some space. If you do stay in the same home, come up with a schedule to minimize the exposure to one another. Obviously if you have kids, their needs should come first while agreeing to a schedule.
Your journey through divorce is your own. If you find yourself stuck and unable to move on, remember this – when nothing changes, nothing changes. Man up and take responsibility for your actions and the outcomes they lead to.
Remember, you have your whole life ahead of you. Start living it now!
We suffer in the mind whenever we rely on the world beyond ourselves to make us happy – or when we blame it for our unhappiness” – Yogi Cameron