Your divorce is providing you with a giant opportunity to evolve as a human on this planet. You may not have requested this evolution, but this is your unique divorce curriculum. How do you want to show up for class?
Here are the most common lessons that I see my clients learn through their high-conflict divorce battles.
1. Courage can exist alongside fear
Your divorce curriculum will force you to make decisions that may not be popular with your ex. You will have to calm your prehistoric brain that senses danger every time you do something that displeases your ex. But you will do this, because it is what your children need. You will learn to talk back to the brain that is trying to keep you playing safe by habitually letting the ex drive the bus. You will slowly learn to drive with courage. Remember, courage means feeling the fear but doing it anyway. Fear gets to ride shotgun.
2.You need to fill your own cup first
The parental instinct in divorce is to keep our cubs safe. What you will learn in the battle is the children will not be ok unless you are ok. As the healthy parent, you are the barometer of the house. You must be on your game to deliver enough healthy parenting to counteract some of the aberrant parenting your ex may bedoing. That means making sure that you are receiving the emotional support that you need so that you can provide it to your kids. Invest in yourself first and by osmosis your kids will benefit. You cannot fill their cup unless your pitcher is full.
3. You (not your lawyer) needs to drive the bus
You may have started with the notion that your lawyer will protect you. A lawyer is essential to educate you on the law and explain the exposure that you will be facing if you go to court. It is your job to use this information to make the decisions on how to proceed. That is actually a blessing, because the best person to advocate for you and your children is YOU. No one knows your ex like you do. You have the most valuable information about what your kids need to thrive and what to expect from your ex. You will be able to predict your ex’s behaviour and pain points better than your lawyer. Use your knowledge to arm your lawyer and collaborate to maximize your outcome.
4. If you want to feel better you need to think better on purpose
Extricating yourself from a difficult marriage is tricky business. Once separated, the job is not done. Life does not suddenly become rainbows and daisies unless you do some rigorous brain hygiene. That means evaluating all of your long-held thoughts and beliefs to see the role that they had in creating the life that you were living. This is tough work, and a therapist and/or a coach is invaluable. Your feelings are created by your thoughts, so it is time to start thinking more deliberately if you want to feel better.
5. Divorce is an exercise in failing your way forward
There are a million and one decisions to make during a divorce. The decision to leave, lawyer selection, strategy, living arrangements, parenting time. Not every decision is going to reap the outcome that you hoped for. That is fine. Every decision that you make brings you closer to your goals, but the path may not be straight. Expect obstacles, detours and even epic fails. This is part of the learning process. During divorce you can learn to expand your failure tolerance and self compassion to truly evolve into a fierce warrior in and out of the courtroom.
Maybe it is only over when you have learned all of the lessons
Divorce provides you with an opportunity to evolve as a parent and as an individual. It is your special “curriculum” to develop mastery at managing your thoughts and emotions.
Completing this curriculum is what will most help your kids survive a high conflict divorce. The more that you do the work on yourself, the stronger you will become emotionally and mentally, and the more your children will thrive. I promise.