I work with people going through divorce and it’s an incredibly painful time in their lives. One thing that I encourage people to do is to have some sort of hope or dream, something to inspire them while going through this difficult preriod. What I mean by a dream is that often, during marriage, you end up compromising on things and perhaps not realizing a dream of yours because it’s not feasible when you’re married. When you’re married, you have to take into account someone else’s wishes and you have to make compromises. But when people are getting divorced, I like to ask them about some of their secret aspirations and dreams; things which they didn’t consider seriously, much less bring to fruition during their marriage. Then I encourage them to try to add some of that dream into their life.
So let’s say you always wanted to be an actor. Fine, then sign up for some acting classes and get involved in your local community theatre. Or, if you already know how to act, but had put it aside for whatever reason in your marriage, then go on some auditions just for fun and get your feet wet! Suppose you wanted to be a writer. Well then take a class on writing and sit yourself down and start writing! Have you always wanted to own a hair salon? (And I know someone who has.) Well start doing some research and read some books and online articles about owning your own business, and go talk to an actual hair salon owner. Perhaps you’ve always secretly wanted to craft the perfect rocking chair. Well then find a woodworking class and watch some youtube videos on how to build a rocking chair. Yes, there are actually videos about that!
Whether any of this becomes your full-time job or not isn’t the point. The fact is that when something terrible has just happened in your life, when it feels like the life you had has just fallen apart and the future that you thought you were going to have has been blown to bits, you need to have something to look forward to in order to balance that out and, at times, distract you from the pain. It’s true that if you’re in the depths of despair, you’re probably not going to have the energy to write your great American novel. But as some of the despair starts to lift, you can actually take some steps toward realizing that dream. Also, in a lovely way, you’ll see that realizing your dream helps to lift you out of the despair. So your hope or aspiration can be something as grand as going back to school for your law degree or as simple as taking those dancing lessons that you never took because your soon-to-be ex had two left feet. It can be as lofty as starting a non-profit or as fun as backpacking across Europe. Just looking up travel websites and picking up brochures at a travel agency can give you a little emotional boost during the day, and they’re much better to look at than what your ex has posted on Instagram!
An important point to keep in mind is to choose something that you have always wanted to do. Don’t pick something specifically to spite your ex, because then you’re still basing your decisions on someone else. Sort of like the teenager who does things just to rebel against his parents rather than because he thoughtfully chooses to do them, therefore his decisions are still based on his parents’ wishes. This is about liberating yourself from considering what your ex likes or doesn’t like and just doing what you want to do.
So while going through divorce, one way to give yourself something to look forward to amidst all the despair and confusion you might feel about the future, is to pick that one dream and somehow start turning it into a reality in your life.