David’s Divorce Dictionary: O is for Opportunity
Definition: A chance to create something better, something good, out of something bad.
In the critically-acclaimed movie “The Life of Pi,” the protagonist, having suffered horrible trauma, elected to see his experience as an opportunity to find creative beauty and God rather than evil and cold nothingness. The movie shows us that human reality is filtered by internal choices—we can choose to see dark clouds or silver linings; cups half-empty or half-full; one door closed or another opened up.
Divorce is a trauma that compels such choice—one can experience it as soul-killing failure and death or as an opportunity for renewal and growth. As Divorce Coach Susan Trotter, Ph.D tells clients: don’t bemoan, “I have to start over again.” Instead, celebrate “I get to start over again!”
This is not to say that one shouldn’t feel the pain and grieve the loss that comes with divorce. But it is important to process the trauma and then just let it go. Do so by replacing the negative experience of divorce with the hopeful opportunity that Dr. Trotter reminds us to embrace: once a divorce is done, people get to start anew.
Divorce is an opportunity for growth, for learning from mistakes, for self-care, and for better relationships with one’s children, relatives, and friends. Grab hold of the opportunity side of divorce. I know that is easier said than done. So seek out professional help to avoid that other human tendency—repeating mistakes and continuing patterns of bad behavior.
A New Perspective
I offer an analogy.
Think about birth from the perspective of a baby in the womb. For nine months the baby lives and grows in a safe, warm, coddled cocoon. Eventually the comfortable world becomes cramped and constricting. Then, unexpectedly, the baby is pushed, pulled and forced through radical change. The first thing the baby does is cry like mad! Imagine the shock and fear the baby must experience as its entire world changes.
But then comfort and love are given. And it is the child’s mission to develop and grow into a full human being.
Divorce is a form of labor. Sometimes one is the suffering mother forcing the change; sometimes one is the baby forced kicking and screaming into a new world. But either way, a choice is available: will you spend life in the brave new world bemoaning the old world and retreating? Or will you take the challenge to live and grow?
What’s the Takeaway? When opportunity to learn and grow knocks, do whatever it takes to open the door. You can respect and remember the past while also welcoming and embracing the future. If divorce is seen through the perspective of opportunity, the laborious path to a new life becomes manageable.
If you have any questions or comments about this article or suggestions for future topics, please feel free to contact me.