A life event as stressful as divorce has the power to be many things. In most cases, it is a roller coaster that seems to embrace the entire spectrum of human emotion. In the midst of divorce, you never know whether the path ahead of you will be a straight shot or a sharp curve, a sharp incline or a free fall. Divorce, in any case, is inherently traumatic.
However, I invite you to look at the nature of all things transformative: there is a necessary chaos that involves any meaningful change in our lives. Consider the beauty of a spring tulip emerging from the April soil. Only months before it was nothing but a brown bulb hidden in the frozen ground. Yet even then, something was happening in that dark place to make possible its resurrection.
Similarly, the dark places of divorce offer us the same invitations of renewal. It is only the path of grief that makes way for the eventual place of acceptance and new life. It is only the letting go of our marriages that will make possible new relationships. It is only the willingness to be where we are that will enable us to step into a promising future. The path is known in the walking.
It is natural to resist the painful places of divorce, and even to cling to them out of fear of an uncertain future. Consider the myriad of things we do to repress our anger or soothe our sadness, when these are the very catalysts of the grieving process that we must somehow embrace. Yet it’s easier to pour tears into a bottle of wine than to feel their sting as they flow through our broken hearts. It’s easier to play the eternal victim than to put blame aside, forgo fairness, and take ownership of our lives.
Ironically, the refusal to inhabit the traumatic journey of grief during divorce renders oneself as the ultimate casualty. There are no winners in a divorce. There are only those who use the pain of the experience to add purpose to their lives, who find the trauma to be their path to transformation. Where would we find butterflies if not for the death of the caterpillars inside of them?