Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Stand Up Philosopher on How To Move Forward After A Divorce

Screw it, if Andy Andrews can do it, I can do it. Here's my program for getting past a divorce, since I'm going through one and Andy hasn't. Note that mine isn't complete yet, but likely will be by the end of August.

1) Accept the stages of grief

This one feels like a freaking roller coaster, but is normal. I had so many ups and downs I felt like a teenage girl on hormone therapy. One moment I was happy, the next moment I was ticked off. Then I was sad. But this is perfectly normal. Just ride it out. When you're in a slump, try to do something to move yourself another direction. Work out. Listen to songs you like. Read something inspirational. Take a walk. Hang out with friends. Have a really good beer. Whatever it takes, do it. I said accept the stages of grief, not let them rule your life. If your ex is anything like mine, part of the reasons why she divorced you was tyranny of her own feelings. Don't repeat them. Feelings are tyrannical.

2) Take some time to heal

I had this bright idea when I finally accepted my fate and took my wedding ring off that I was going to get back out there. But I also realized I wasn't ready. I created some profiles on dating sites, but when I looked at the available women, I realized that's probably not where I'm going to meet whoever is next. I sometimes amuse myself by reading women's profiles though. Some are hilarious! The "Christian" woman's 33 point checklist is tame compared to what some of these women say.

But in any case, whether you amuse yourself at the expense of off the wall women who can't write a profile or not, give it time. Healing is a process. I don't know how long it will take. I'm still going through it.

I was going to take a week and get away, but work was too busy in the Spring, and how I'm under furlough so I lose 20% of my pay for the rest of the fiscal year. (I notice the "royal family" hasn't cut back on their multi-hundred million dollar vacations or any of the other extravagances they enjoy at taxpayer expense.) I'll probably take a week in October to get away and refocus once my pay returns to normal.

3) Embrace your community. If you don't have one, get one!

Let's face it, a divorce is one of the greatest rejections you can undergo. This isn't walking up to some unknown chick in a bar and getting sneered at. This is a woman who once said yes to you now saying NO! with the power of the state behind her. Especially if there are children involved, and she's getting custody, this shit hurts! She's not only rejecting you for herself, she's rejecting you for the entire family. She's rejecting your place as husband, father, provider (well, maybe not provider, since she gets part of your retirement and probably a good chunk of your paycheck...)

In any case, this kind of rejection is hard. It's important to remind yourself that there are people who accept you. This is why community is essential. I can only speak for the community I have: friends and coworkers. Both have been great in supporting me and helping me get through this. Whatever you do, build a community of people. Even if your ex-wife or soon to be ex-wife no longer likes you, there are people in this world who do like you for who you are, and finding and being with them is a powerful reminder that your ex-wife is a fluke. You're still a great man, and damn it, there are people in this world who know it! And there is still a decent woman out there who will value you.

4) Make or redefine your life plan

I made a life plan somewhere in the last two years. You've got to have a clue where you're going in life. When I reviewed my life plan, I realized that being a husband is still an important value to me, even if the ungrateful woman I originally married doesn't value me. I ended up taking my ex-wife's name out of my life plan and leaving a placeholder.

Another benefit I've found: I no longer have a control freak running my life! I'm happy about this. I've started trying to save up for a motorcycle (my ex never opposed me owning one, just spending the money on one). I'm also enjoying eating a little better. As a geographical bachelor, I was eating a lot of rice and cheap crap. I started buying decent frozen meals again. I also ate out a few times, guilt free!

5) Find Something, or Anything To Latch Onto

Whatever your background is, find some reason to make it through this period of time until things get better. I can't tell you what will work for you. I can tell you some things that have worked for me.

I'm a Christian, but many of you may not be. I can't say much Christian material is helpful, since most of it seems geared toward baby Christians who can't figure out the difference in Bible translations. Maybe you're inspired by one of the thousands of softball "Where Is God When It Hurts" tracts and books out there. I'm not. I could probably write them better than the writers of them did in the first place. They're useless to me.

If you believe in God, note that nowhere are we promised a trial free life. Most of God's followers have been put through complete misery as is evident in books like Psalms, Lamentations, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Revelation, etc. It seems that most of the ministry materials available seem to waste so much time addressing the people who haven't figured this out yet. I avoid them, because I have better things to do than read pre-school VBS level crap. Most of the stuff that has helped me is not explicitly Christian centered. Some is, especially some songs I listen to from time to time. I picked up this song by "Stellar Kart" called "It's Not Over". Somehow, this became the theme of my divorce. Embedded:

I have a few other songs I like, such as Casting Crowns' "Praise You In This Storm". "It Is Well With My Soul" occasionally helps me too, especially since that guy was kicked out of his denomination because life threw so much shit at him, they assumed he was cursed. Yeah, the average churchian will be a lot of help the the Christian in time of need...

Other sources of inspiration are men like Victor Pride, whom I consider raw, unmitigated motivation. Want to get your blood pumping and your mind thinking about the great times to come once the divorce is over and healing is complete? Read Victor.

I hope I'm not too hard on Andy Andrews. I don't get much out of his videos and blog posts, but his books are really good. Get a few of them.

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