STARTING OVER AGAIN
Your past is gone -- let it go
A Series of Articles on Adjusting to Divorce
copyright 1997 by Harlan Jacobsen
AFTER DIVORCE WE OFTEN HIT BOTTOM ON THE HAPPINESS SCALE
We now know what unhappiness is, and almost everything looks better than where we are initially after divorce.
WE OFTEN FEEL OUR HAPPINESS AND WELL BEING HAS GOTTEN OUT OF OUR CONTROL
.....that we are a victim of circumstances, that someone has put us into this unhappy position and we are on 24 hour alert for someone to rescue us from our plight.
In other words, we have given over control of our happiness to outside control. We are waiting for "our ship to come in" but eventually realize that it is no use because we never sent one out.
YOUR DIVORCE PROVED YOU WERE NOT PERFECT. YOU WERE PROGRAMMED TO BE PERFECT AND YOU DIDNíT MAKE IT
You were not programmed to deal with mistakes or set backs or weaknesses. People want to be perfect, and when you become divorced and convinced you are not after all "perfect", then you become discouraged and depressed. You have to give up on the pretense of expecting to be or trying to be perfect. Being perfect is not for human beings.
HOW CAN I BE HAPPY WHEN I AM SO IMPERFECT?
Your expectation to be perfect was incorrect programming. If a baseball player expected to succeed and get a hit every time he went to bat he would naturally be unhappy and constantly depressed over his lack of success. When he realizes that even when you are an exceptionally good baseball player you only get a hit on an average of once every three times at bat, then he does not berate himself for not succeeding every time he is at bat. His expectation to get a hit every time was erroneous, impossible programming. His coach, his trainer, his fans, relatives, would all naturally like him to get a hit every time at bat. That doesnít change anything. He still is only human, and finally realizes he can be happy whether he meets their unrealistic expectations or not. He also knows that the year Babe Ruth broke the home run record he also broke a record for number of strike outs.
BUT HOW CAN I BE HAPPY WHEN I HAVE SO MUCH PAIN FROM MY LOSS?
You can keep the pain going or you can really get into it and get it over with. You can take a long time to work through the pain or a short time; it is your decision. We have other chapters on working through the pain, and how to get it over with.
HOW CAN I BE HAPPY AND SMILE WHEN MY HEART IS DEAD?
It is not dead; it may be crushed but it will certainly bounce back when you have a new and better life to look forward to. Right now you may be sold on the erroneous idea that the good life is over when in fact the best part is only starting. It is just another erroneous conclusion holding back your new, happy, better life.
WHEN YOU ARE MISERABLE YOU WANT TO FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO MAKE MISERABLE
Your ex is the first one you can think of. You think you will feel better if you can somehow make them miserable. Or you erroneously believe that if you stay miserable long (like a mourning period for widows & widowers) it will prove you really cared.
A lot of divorced people donít want to take their lives in their own hands. They want to find someone to take overó
Therefore some think if they are miserable enough and a failure as a functioning single person, it will make them more lovable and if they act helpless enough someone will come along and take over for them. Iíll just stay helpless-someone will rescue me.
People are afraid of change. I may be miserable; I feel safe in this state. I survive. I may be unsafe changing.
You need to just eventually give up on the "rent a cross" program, as Dr. Olson calls it. You quit it finally when you find it is not working.
ALL PAST IS OVERóWATER OVER THE DAMóLET IT GO
To move from unhappiness to a great new life will require letting go of the past, the mistakes, disappointments, the hurts, the regrets, the "should haves."
Initially after divorce we are haunted by memories of what was left behind and terrified by tomorrow.
WE HAVE NO EMOTIONAL ENERGY LEFT TO MAKE TODAY A HAPPY DAY
You have only so much charge or juice in your emotional battery-when you use up that energy on rehashing the past and projecting into the future (worry) then you are loosing your spark for today, a day which you will never get back. You need every bit of your emotional energy to make today a bright day.
YOU CAN MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Letting go of the past and stopping the worrying about the future will enable you to work on making every day a great day.
A happy successful life is a series of happy days. You only need to learn to make "today" a great day.
YOUR UNHAPPINESS NOW, IF YOU CONTINUE, WILL BE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AND YOUR OWN MAKING
Your problems, your attitude, your outlook (how you feel and react to problems in your new life) will be your own making. You paint yourself into your own corner and you alone need to accept total responsibility for getting yourself out and recognize you alone are now responsible for the problems and hang ups that keep you in the corner.
You are the cause of your own unhappiness, not the effect.
THE DEFINITION OF UNHAPPINESS: SAD, SORROWFUL, IRRITATION, ANNOYANCE, REGRET, INJUSTICE OR ANXIETY ABOUT SOMETHING
You may be sad because of your loss of a relationship, but when you finally realize there are lots of potentially better relationships just waiting for you and you start to develop these, then you realize there is not reason to continue to be sad or sorrowful about that.
Divorce and the entire divorce legal process do come under irritation and annoyance and it is an emotional drain until out of the way. It is normal and healthy to be annoyed about something. It becomes neurotic when we became annoyed at being annoyed.
We all have some regrets but we learn to drop them and both sides of a divorce case usually figure they were done a great "injustice" by the other to some degree, but we learn to understand and let go of that.
Anxiety is nothing more than "not knowing" or apprehensiveness about what happens in your life now.
When you decide on goals as a single person then your anxiety quiets down as you take responsibility for getting yourself there. There no longer is a question about what is going to happen to you because you are taking charge of what is and what is not going to happen to you.
UNHAPPINESS IS A STATE OF MIND (WHICH CAN BE CORRECTED)
You do not have to stay with unhappiness and you can avoid unhappiness no matter what is happening "out there." Unhappiness equals emotional discomfort. Emotional discomfort is unnecessary and you can do something about it. Emotional problems and discomfort (unhappiness) are learned.
You can learn to overcome emotional problems and unhappiness. It is your responsibility. We know it is just easier to stay with unhappiness and blame "others" and what is going on out there. You may be too lazy to take responsibility for learning happiness.
In that case nothing we write is going to help you.
NEXT ISSUE: Happiness and how to understand and learn to make it a regular in your new single life.