Submitted by: Tara Eisenhard
I was lucky to have the support of my friends and family when I went through my divorce. While I’m grateful, I also recognize how those closest to us can hold us back and prevent healthy closure.
Upon hearing the news of my cheating husband and pending separation, a co-worker advised, “You’ll want alimony. You’re lucky that you can get it these days. It hasn’t always been so easy.” When I told her that I was looking forward to financial independence, she was shocked. “You never know,” she warned. “It would be nice to have some extra money.”
“Make him pay,” a friend told me as she handed over the phone number for her attorney.
Yet another pal educated me about fault divorces and suggested that I expose my husband’s infidelity through the court system. I was instructed to slash his tires, take his business and smear his name all over town.
I obeyed only a few of those suggestions. I made threats and held on to some petty treasures. Ultimately, that behavior benefitted nobody. It proved only to stall the process, thus delaying my decree of liberation.
My friends meant well and did exactly as they thought they should. They stuck by my side and defended me. They wanted to protect me from the perceived enemy. The problem was that I didn’t want to fight against my ex to obtain a divorce. I intended to work with him to reach our common goal of dissolving the marriage. That’s really what divorce is all about, isn’t it?
The truth is that our well-meaning friends and family can retard our healing. While it’s often true that we need support in the beginning, the time will come when we can again stand on our own. Unfortunately, we might not realize it if we are surrounded by loved ones who remain depressed, angry, confused, bitter or vengeful on our behalf.
Attitudes and emotions are contagious. It’s impossible to move on when Mom is still coddling us. It’s hard to forgive and let go if our best friend reminds us every day that the ex is a piece of trash. How can we find compassion in our hearts while our co-workers are coaching us to exact revenge? Remember that old saying about sleeping with dogs? You get the idea…
Remaining angry and re-enforcing negative aspects of the relationship or separation will not propel you closer to freedom. Rather, it will ensure that you remain a prisoner of your pain. The opposite of love is indifference. If you’re hating, you’re not healing. And if others are helping you hate, they’re hurting your game.
For maximum mental health, pay attention to the attitudes of those around you. Focus on the present and ask your friends for their encouragement toward your new and improved life. Learn from the past and then let it go. Your future will thank you.
Tara Eisenhard is a pro-divorce enthusiast. She believes that a marriage should not survive at the expense of its participants and that families evolve, not dissolve, as a result of divorce. She loves dogs, drives a Saturn and happily cohabitates with a divorced dad. Tara is the author of the blog “Relative Evolutions” located at thedivorceencouragist.wordpress.com. She tweets @dvrcncouragist and welcomes feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org.