I'm a country music lover...LOVE me some modern country! I love the way the singers and songwriters write & sing about matters of the heart. I'll sing to some songs that resonate with my journey in life in my car at the top of my lungs or dance with one hand on my heart and another in the air at a country concert because I feel ya Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Keith Urban....okay, I'm getting carried away here...
No surprise, given I'm a therapist who feels deeply and works with couples and deep, deep matters of the heart. So, once or twice a year, a song captures my attention and inspires me to write about experiences and solutions helpful to individuals and couples that I work with.
Last week, Cole Swindell released his single "Break Up in the End"...and in an interview about the story behind the ballad, he shares that "it is better to have loved than to not have the chance to." I cried. I cried thinking about the 26 years of marriage that were over, the impact on my three adult daughters, the young love that catapulted my ex and I into making our union permanent, and the vow I made to myself when I married my ex that I would NEVER get divorced. Remember those days?
All the flashbacks of our trips, fights, the home we built together, and the life that we lived well. I noticed that through all the sadness I was feeling listening to this song, it was different than what I had felt in the past. I could smile, laugh inside at our naivety in managing children, careers and life. And there was an intense fondness and gratefulness inside. I respect my ex-husband, even though we hurt each other many a time during our marriage. It takes two to make a marriage and two to break one. The biggest thing I noticed was that, this time, I didn't find myself wanting all of that back. It is my past and I could look back with gratitude. I can even say, I would go back and do it all again (the life, not the hurt) EVEN THOUGH WE BROKE UP IN THE END.
For some of you, the thought of feeling any sort of positive thoughts and feelings towards your relationship post divorce is foreign, rejected, and inconceivable. I get it.
Most of the time, the discord, betrayal, or growing apart (to name a few reasons) that happen leading up to the divorce, and then the business of divorce while emotionally detaching is extremely hard, exhausting, and wears on every single last nerve we have. I know this, as I've lived it too.
However, at one time, perhaps long long ago, you loved this person. You chose to spend the rest of your life with them, vowing to love and keep them close.
You might be saying, "oh that may be fine for you, but you have no idea what MY divorce and break up was like, he/she was evil, awful, etc., etc. That may be true, and it is very, very painful. My heart grieves for you.
This may anger you, as the reader, but going through the process of forgiving (both yourself and your ex) the mistakes that were made, and finding an enduring connection to that past will help you co-parent better, experience personal peace, and remain open to love and opportunity--even if your ex doesn't. Once divorced, you owe your ex nothing. Nothing (unless you're paying child/spousal support...but we won't go there in this blog!), but you do owe yourself the process of healing and personal peace.
Join me on this journey through this blog series on divorce. Forgiveness is a process and starts with allowing yourself to go through the grieving process (not avoid it), set boundaries for yourself to minimize new hurt, grappling with the nostalgia at times, feeling the unfairness of things, taking the high road in moments of conflict as you go about the business of divorce and co-parenting, co-parent well, and many many other tasks, including opening up and learning to create space for love again.
You owe YOURSELF the value of personal peace and a life lived well.
You're worth it. It's possible.
And you may not like some of what I have to say. . You may not be ready or you may not agree. You may want to journey towards personal peace another way. That's okay. We do have to let ourselves feel and experience the momentary pain to invest in our peaceful future. Avoiding it only delays the inevitable and leads to bitterness and strife. (there are country songs about that too!).
Grab your tissues, get comfortable with letting the tears flow as you grieve the losses of your divorce and join me on this journey...my intent is to share personal experiences, tips for practical things you can do to get to the other side. Put your seatbelt on because it is messy, heart-wrenching, awful at times. You'll want to scream, cry, be snarky, retaliate, vent, shut down, resist my suggestions and get angry with me. It's okay, I did all of that and thank you to my friends who sat on the other end of the phone over and over again and let me vent safely, saw the beautiful soul inside of me, encouraged me to keep moving forward, and told me I would be okay.
If you don't like what I have to say or how to get through this, I understand. Everyone's journey is unique and sometimes it isn't possible to find any positive, redeeming things about your marriage. But it IS possible to grieve and move forward. Take the meat and throw away the bones as you journey with me. Not all of it will apply to you, but imagine a life without bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. It's beautiful, wonderful, and detaches you from a hurtful past.
Listen to Cole Swindell's "Break Up in the End" here.
My heart pines for you and what you've been through. You will be okay, even though you break up in the end,
Kimberly Sandstrom is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, CA, specializing in couples, individuals & families and trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy & EMDR. .You can read more about her and her private practice and couples workshop opportunities here. The opinions, views and perceptions expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not reflect the opinions, views or perceptions of other persons mentioned or implied.