A sweet blogging friend of mine asked for advice in her latest blog, Am I Brave Enough? and I’m honored that she mentioned my blog since we have experienced similar situations. She says:
If you have any practical, spiritual or other suggestions how I can meet the challenge of moving on and releasing all expectations of my ex-husband, I invite you to send them my way.
And I promise to be brave enough to try. Harder.
So here are my suggestions dear friend:
Explore your new chapter with self-love. I know that doesn’t sound practical when we are worrying about the kids, financial issues, work, housing, and co-parenting with the Ex, but there’s peace that comes with exploring the balance after a divorce. The tricky part is finding the balance because you have so much on your plate that there’s little time left for you to even think about your new situation in regards to how you feel about yourself and the new chapter. But you’ve got to take time to unravel it all in order to heal. You have to explore your feelings, forgive and move on with your life. And yes, it takes bravery, but you’ve been through a divorce, so I know you’re brave!
Moving on means to look at your Ex as someone you once knew, but no longer know as well. Releasing that cord of connection with him is hard as hell, even when he disconnects completely. I was still seeing bits of my Ex’s loving essence for awhile (maybe I was hallucinating?) so it was really hard for me to break away. But when I finally did? It was miraculous and I wished I had done it sooner. It was ME who held ME back from healing sooner. If I have learned anything, it’s to not limit yourself by your own beliefs. To look outside of your own heart/mind connection to him and see him in the observer mode as if you were your best friend looking out for you! Because my friends saw him for who he now was and I kept the blinders on out of respect for the past and honestly, not being able to deal with the new him. But you can’t live in the past anymore. You’ve got to live in the now and see who he is now and deal with it. You no longer have to worry if you are pleasing him or not. There are no limitations except to be kind when you can and to treat others the way you would want to be treated so that you can be a good role model for your kids. Beyond that? Take the high road as often as you can. Be yourself in all your quirky glory and stop caring what others are thinking or judging or saying about you. If you can put your head on the pillow every night with peace in your head and heart, then you are doing a great job!
Expect nothing and then you can’t be disappointed. This goes back to seeing the current persona of your Ex and not the memory of the loving spouse you married. You are in control now of your life so be your own headmaster and stop waiting around for him to do the right thing. Because if he were that person, you wouldn’t be divorced. You would have found a way together to heal the marriage and strengthen it and not be in this position.
Abide by your divorce decree. Put everything into email so that there’s a record of it. He may not remember what he’s supposed to do or what he said he’d do by signing the divorce agreement so gently remind him. I know you probably want to shake your fist at him and holler, but restrain yourself. Remind him of his responsibilities via email or text or phone in a mannerly way. There’s no need to be whining or bratty. Just speak the FACTS. Facts only. As much as you may want to nag or complain to him about what’s lacking, you need to stay centered and not slide into the poor me extreme or go the other way and be an all-out brat.
For me, once I understood this new way of communicating with my Ex, the less strife I had in my life. I treated him like a business partner. I kept to the facts. I used polite words, always said thank you and please. I stayed authentically me but with more backbone, as I stood my ground according to the divorce agreement that we’d both signed. When needed, I reached out to my divorce attorney for help in certain matters. I kept an open mind, but I wasn’t so invested in my ex that I didn’t let down my guard and believe that he would always do the right thing (and that saved me as he didn’t always do the right thing). I stayed on the side of what the law said and didn’t waver.
I stopped communicating with him except when necessary. I didn’t inquire about his life or anything else that didn’t have to do with the kids/divorce. I didn’t share anything else about mine either. It’s none of anyone’s business – his nor mine. That really took some getting used to because I wanted to share about the kids, but when I tried once or twice, I received no answer (and yes, he got the messages) so I let it go. I only tell him anything about the kids when it’s needed. Otherwise, I take care of the kids myself. If the kids want to tell him something, that’s fine. My kids are teenagers so maybe it’s a bit easier for me. But there was a time when I needed advice and asked for it here about co-parenting with him. Maybe I had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to!
Embrace your new chapter. I found that writing my feelings out helped me to release and forgive myself and him. I started writing what’s good about being divorced – a list of all the pluses that I could think of, here’s an example, even down to being the queen of the TV remote control at all times. I flipped the poor me I’m alone and divorced thinking into me with freedom to be authentically 50-me without limits. Now if you’ve been following my blog, you know I haven’t begun dating. I’ve been working on strengthening myself, healing and finding what makes me happy. I’ve found that I don’t need a man (eye-opener because I was married over two decades and loved being married). Sure, I’d like to share time with someone special, but I’m enjoying the freedom of not being tied down in a relationship and having to parent my kids and be mom/dad while trying to balance a new love interest. For me, I think there’s time enough for all of it to fall into place when it’s ready. In the meantime, I’m learning to love me.
By the way, I looked back on my blog and found a four part series I’d written. Maybe this would be helpful to you too? Let me know what you think!
So friends, there’s uncharted territory ahead of you. Don’t be afraid of it. Instead embrace the new chapter on which you get to explore your life in ways you maybe hadn’t even contemplated before now. Stand on your own two feet. Be brave and just try. Sure, we all fall down now and again, but we get back up and try again until we succeed. We’ve all been there. Reach out. I’m here if you need a friend.