When someone talks to me about divorce, one of the things I have shared most about the past 3 and a half years is that you *think* you know what the hard milestones will be: Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, holidays, etc.
Those are definitely hard, but you kind of see them coming. You might even be able to prepare for them a bit.
It’s the unexpected milestones that take your breath away and throw you right back into the hardest moments, deepest sorrows and currents of doubt. I’ve had a couple of these milestones lately. One was understandably emotional: the death of our dog that he and I raised from puppyhood. The other was totally transactional. It was something I knew was coming because we had an agreed upon date for this thing to happen, but I had no idea that it would also involve an emotional wave that would toss me about.
I was just talking to a dear person last night about this. She too has gone through a divorce and has a name for these unexpected milestones: The Wreckage. The wreckage just washes up on the shore every once in a while. You don’t know when it will happen. It’s just suddenly there.
I’ve learned that the wreckage isn’t a thing you can rush or wish away. You can’t ignore the wreckage. You can’t pretend it’s not there at your feet, on the beautiful beach of your life. You need look at it. Take it in. Honor it however you need to. And then, in it’s own time, it will wash back out to sea.
The thing about this wreckage of mine is that it was created very intentionally. Next to not having kids, I think my divorce was the most intentional thing I’d ever done up to that point in my life. I used what I consider to be the 3 key ingredients for intention during the divorce: clarity, communication and consistency. I couldn’t have told you that clearly at the time that I was following that model, but it’s how I’ve always worked with my clients, so of course it showed up in my own life.
Clarity. I got really clear about how I wanted the divorce to go. I used the following definition of conscious uncoupling as my guide.
Characterized by a tremendous amount of goodwill, generosity and respect where those separating strive to do minimal damage to themselves, to each other, and to their children as well as intentionally seek to create new agreements and structures designed to set everyone up to win, flourish and thrive moving forward in life.
Communication. I communicated that to my then husband and we clarified together what that would actually look like in the areas of our life. Everything from finances to our dogs to dating other people.
Consistency. Along the way we set up systems of consistency to support us. From legal agreements to getting support from friends and professionals. This included this Facebook post. A bit of wreckage that washed up at my feet recently thanks to the “On this day” Facebook feature. Sometimes I love “On this day” and sometimes I want to just punch it.
It felt strange to do this so publicly, to announce our divorce, but it was critical that everyone was on the same page as us.
I’m not saying everyone was on board. A handful of people took sides and/or tried to stir up drama, but only a few.
I’m not saying I never once uttered a negative thing to anyone other than myself. I had my close people that I could vent to.
I’m not saying there hasn’t been pain, frustration, jealousy and anger. But underlying all of it was love. I took something wholly unknowable to me and started taking the steps that would take us apart as a couple, but would grow us as individuals.
Love was my intention. I wanted love to prevail even if our marriage didn’t. I knew that couldn’t happen unless I was intentional.
That’s all you can do when faced with a necessary shift in life. Pause and be intentional. Get clear on what you want. Communicate it to those who matter most. Set up whatever you need to be consistent. It doesn’t matter if the shift feels big (divorce, anyone?) or small (changing your eating habits), intention will carry you through.
What shift are you facing right now? What would it look like to get clear? Who do you need to communicate with about it? What do you need to set up to be consistent in your intention?
Know that when you make these shifts, there will be wreckage. That wreckage will wash up on you shores every now and again, but when you shift with intention, at least it will the wreckage of your making.