Sometimes it is easy to write these posts. In fact, I usually find it fairly simple because I write about political issues where I already have some knowledge and a feeling about my position and the words come out rather quickly. When matters are of a more personal nature, it is more difficult.
Partly because there is a tendency to question the motive behind personal narratives, and the balance between being useful to a reader and self- flagellation is always present. My hope with anything that I write is to engage someone to either activate their thinking on a particular subject or to find information that can benefit their own journey one way or another. When I step away from politics and write about my family and my children, it is with that in mind, as well.
This essay is about being divorced.
I know many divorced people. Men and women. Most of them with children. We share the stories of our struggles with regard to visitations, child support and attitudes in order to calibrate our own perspectives and to give support to another who is experiencing the inevitable frustrations of shared custody.
At stake is always respect, dignity, fairness and agreement. Yet, the reasons each of us got divorced in the first place was a lack of respect, dignity, fairness and agreement. And so the same issues exist, now we just don’t have to see each other every day to be in constant conflict. We rely on legal counsel, documents, decrees and judgments to mediate when loggerheads are reached, but even those prove to be useless at those times when….respect, dignity, fairness and agreement are in question.
Very few divorced people that I know speak highly of their ex spouse. I do know of a couple of ex-couples who claim to be better friends now, but the lion share (by a long shot) are not on such terms. Most will give an exasperated grunt when they finish a conversation with an ex that is otherwise only heard in bullfighting rings (from the bull).
“My ex husband is an imbecile”
“Listen to what my ex wife just did…”
“My ex doesn’t even care about (fill in: kids, bills, making payments, etc)”
Justice was never part of the cosmic agreement between human beings and it doesn’t matter which side of the ex-spouse argument defines your situation, every bit of negativity that you foster toward the person on the other end of the phone, text message or parking lot, lands in a puddle of sludge.
“There is no comeuppance,” one friend reminded me. “No one ever walks away feeling that they could have been more thoughtful.”
I have bouts with anger/frustration/disappointment with my child custody arrangement and I’ve found myself at odds with my better nature at various times. Every time a new “situation” develops where I feel persecuted by the same dysfunctions that engineered the end of a marriage, the cumulative weight of every previous frustration and lack of respect, dignity, fairness and agreement, comes to bear. I’m writing today because there’s hope. For me, and for you, if any of this is familiar territory.
Life has an uncanny way of putting answers in front of us when we need them. Or maybe they are always there and we see them when we’re ready, but I attended a lecture about the release of stress and reprogramming our minds to recognize joy and love before fear. It was by Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic.
He offered 3 steps to begin the process.
-Today I am taking two minutes to think of 5 people that I treasure (that’s an easy one).
-Every stranger I see, I will acknowledge with my eyes by thinking (not verbally) “I wish you well.”
-And any loved one that I talk to or should see today I will treat as if I haven’t seen them in a long time.
Three easy steps toward flushing away the negativity that only eats at one’s own tranquility. I will do this every day. This exercise is designed to program the Focus Mode and the Default Mode that navigate our brains. I did it and you know what? I felt the purging of negative feelings. More than that, I felt from this brief meditation the influx of positive feelings.
Maybe this seems too simple a solution for complex, deep, emotional issues and conflicts that have spanned years. And maybe the next time the peace is broken by one of those Acts of Obstinacy that is unique to the world of Divorce-Custody I will be back to burning effigies and making incantations…but what I do know for sure is this- No one suffers but me when I’m unhappy.
Peace and love, my friends. And even if you’re not my friend, “I wish you well.”