Knowing When It’s Time For The “F” Word

“It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’… If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being.”  Dr. Maya Angelou

A few days after 9/11, Maya Angelou was invited to be interviewed on one of the major news channels about her view on how our country should respond to the attacks.  Ever since I was first introduced to the words of Maya Angelou in college, they have been a rock I lean into when my world unravels.   I turn regularly to her books for comfort and probably quote her wisdom to clients at least once a month.   I was so excited to have the opportunity to have her guidance in those frightening first few days.  I gave my then-toddler some toys to distract her for a few moments and leaned in close to listen to Dr. Angelou.

When asked what “we” should do next, she spoke of forgiveness.  She said we must heal before reacting in anger. And then she was cut off and the news anchor turned to his other guest and said, “But what about those of us living in the REAL world?”  I don’t know what the other guest said, or remember who he was, because I turned off the TV.  I don’t live in a world where forgiveness, healing and the wisdom of Maya Angelou aren’t REAL.  Before I digress into a rant against one of the greatest philosopher-poets in American history being dismissed so disrespectfully, I’ll bring this on back to divorce.

When your world is unraveling due to a divorce, what you really want me to do, as your advocate and lawyer – is to fight for you and to make the other person pay for the pain you are going through.  And then, when some time has passed, things shift, the anger dies down a bit and a different goal shows up.  You want it all to be over, you want peace and you want life to move forward.  You want normal back.  This is what Maya Angelou guided us to – before we take action that we might later regret, we must take some time to reach the place of forgiveness.

I cannot tell an upset, pissed-off, frustrated newly-separated spouse that they need to heal and forgive before we create an action plan for their divorce.  Trust me, that goes over like a fart in a space suit (“Heal, schmeal, how’s the mortgage going to get paid?”).   But I can listen for the shift.  I can listen for the moment that the anger has died down, that the heart isn’t quite as broken and I can then guide him or her toward the path that leads to a peaceful end.

If you, or someone in your life, is going through a divorce, make space for venting, rage and weeping in frustration – it’s an important part of the grieving process.   Forgiveness – of oneself and of others – shouldn’t be expected to come right away.  But try not to engage in too many acts of war during this early stage.  Allow some time for healing.  Be kind to yourself.  It takes great courage (and lots of support from loved ones) to make the shift from war to peace.  Know that you will have a delicious life on the other side of this mess and it’s okay if it takes a while to get there.  You WILL get there.

In the comments below, I hope those of you that are enjoying a DELICIOUS post-divorce life will share and send a message of hope to those that might be reading this during a difficult time.  I know so many of you have created amazing lives for yourself and so many others need to hear that it’s possible to get there.

Please share your thoughts.