Bill Douglas suggests another way with input from his friend Deanna Hoffman.
Deanna Hoffman shared the following thoughts on divorce with me. I have the pleasure of working with Deanna. Her insights, her story and her perspective have always been keenly “spot on” and very helpful to everyone we encounter. So, I’m sharing my column with her this week. I encourage you to read on, digest these thoughts, and challenge those within your circles to redefine their divorce perception.
In our society why is it considered “normal” to speak of divorce with sarcasm and malice with a bent toward victimhood?
Reality reveals that we know or are related to someone who is divorced. In their best attempts many well meaning friends and acquaintances miss the mark with their efforts to be “supportive”. There is a default to speak of divorce only in the negative.
Although divorce is a lawful process that serves its specific purpose, for many there is still discomfort in navigating the rough waters that temporarily engulf the lives of those involved. Even in the most civil dissolution there are layers of personal hell to be resolved. No one comes out of the process unscathed.
Divorce is a time that calls for unconditional love and support from those closest to our worlds. However, the prevalence of “making light” with jokes that demonize the process and those involved may inadvertently prolong the pain. When there is an undercurrent to trivialize their realities, the person may pretend to “be fine” from this form of social pressure. The emotions can be driven deeper below the surface as they go through the motions of getting on with life.
Additionally, treating a divorced friend as damaged goods can reinforce a mindset of victimhood. This becomes exacerbated when well-intentioned conversations become ill attempts at identification by rehashing the negative opinions of the “ex” or how the financially daunting settlement terms have ruined life.
In divorce scenarios it has become socially accepted to trash and bash rather than just be there to listen in a way that facilitates healing. Being available with an unconditional presence of positivity for divorced friends will hasten their ability to truly heal and embrace life again.
Perhaps this default to frame divorce in the negative has evolved as an attempt to protect the ego of both parties in the exchange. Those who are married may not feel comfortable with the automatic litmus test they administer to own circumstance concerning the state of their own union. There may be an unspoken taboo to openly discuss gritty emotions as there may be dogma that surrounds divorce that equates it with failure.
There is a tendency to tiptoe around tough topics intending to acknowledge without getting too deep. Thus, sarcasm and humor may enter as strategies for communication.
Generally we are not comfortable with pointing out failure. However, this possible designation of failure may be exactly what is feeding the negativity loop surrounding divorce. When we divorce we often develop a deep belief that we are failures. When that occurs that inner label diverts our subconscious to a thought cycle of its own. This can foster personal defenses to chime in to engage with the superficial banter rather than openly state what is we need in the way of support.
There is benefit from acknowledging divorce as a process rather than a trait or flaw. This shift from the negative default may begin with in us as we set the tone as to how others interact with us. Divorce should not be equated as failure and failure is not a viable form of identity. Grace begins within.
Divorce does not relegate one to a purgatory of living life within the lyrics of a bad “done me wrong” country song. Divorce should be without the warrant of stigma indicating negative character. Even though it hurts deeply, it can be good.
Divorce is a reality that releases individuals from the confines of a relationship that no longer meets the needs of the two parties involved. It is a legal process through which individuals can exit one life in order to enter a new and improved liberated existence. Changes to our once known reality of life provide the range of beautiful soul-stirring tragic magic mixture of revelations and growth.
As divorced individuals each of us stand in the epicenter of what was, now empowered to create what can be. Rejuvenated and redirected we can repurpose our lives to maximize our positive impact in our worlds.
Deanna Hoffman is a divorced and thriving wellness coach practitioner who serves as a positive GPS to assist others in their journey to Go Places Stronger.
Photo: Flickr/Dimaz Fakhruddin