How are you holding up? I wonder how you've been processing my last three letters. Do they resonate with you? Is your experience all-together different? Everyone's divorce story is unique, but at the heart of every journey is the need to process, grow and heal. I hope you are continuing to work through your emotions, thoughts and experiences.
On that note, I wanted to encourage you that it takes a while to heal. Often, we think we are over something. If enough time has passed, you probably don't dwell on the divorce as much. Perhaps it hurts less. Maybe you've started to feel positive emotions again, or made progress in the relationships with one or both of your parents.
You will hit bumps in the road, though. Sometimes you think you are over things, and you really aren’t. I've learned this the hard way. It has been 15 years since my parents got divorced. And I’ve felt a lot of different things: anger, sadness, betrayal, panic, anxiety, relief, happiness. At different seasons of my life, I think I’ve worked through a lot of my feelings and thoughts. I think that I’ve moved on or gotten over it.
Then out of no where I get hit with a new feeling. Sometimes I get sad all over again that my parents got divorced (yes, even 15 years after the fact). Sometimes I get angry at my dad all over again. Sometimes I get frustrated that I've seemingly gone two steps backward in the progress I've made. But I'm going to let you in on a hard truth:
It takes setbacks to move forward.
That might be unpleasant to swallow. If there is anything I've learned through the experience of my parent's divorce, it's that wounds have to open to heal. Sometimes more than once. I've learned that I'm not undoing years of progress when I have a "setback." Rather, it is a way of processing so I can move forward.
I've had to accept that I may deal with these setbacks for the rest of my life. But I want to keep moving forward. So every time I have a new thought, feeling or emotion regarding the divorce, I process it and work through it instead of burying it or ignoring it. The wound heals more quickly this way, and in turn, I rebound more quickly as well.
I remember yearning for the day that I would be over my parents divorce. I desperately wanted the divorce to be behind me, for life to return to normal again. Here's the thing about getting over things: It happens over time. And life returns to normal regardless of whether or not you are over something.
Being over your parents divorce does not mean you stop talking about it. It doesn't mean you won't think about it. It doesn't mean you forget. It doesn't mean that you excuse or approve of any wrong behavior that happened during the divorce. It may or may not mean you have forgiven those who have hurt you.
Being over the divorce means you are committed to moving forward. It means you are ready to work through your thoughts, feelings and experiences. It means you won't let the divorce hold you back. Because it did happen, and you won't ever forget. My parents divorce is part of my every day life: it's with me as I parent, it's with me in my marriage. As a dear friend of mine used to say, we have a choice to make:
We can let divorce make us BITTER or make us BETTER.
I choose BETTER.
So I continue to process. I continue to move forward. I continue to heal. Even if that means setbacks or the reopening of wounds. Because I choose BETTER.
Friend, I hope as you continue to process and heal, you choose the same. Keep hanging on. Until our next letter...