By Keith Grossman
“Divorces are a special kind of trauma, and mine was no different.” – Unknown
People typically think of divorce as a negative word. For them, it’s conflict and angst and disagreements and yelling.
A client once told me, “I’m watching my kids melt down.”
Another said, “Somehow, seeing your entire marriage broken down into pages and pages of legal paperwork just wipes all of those emotions away. And, for me, what filled that emptiness was guilt and shame.”
These clients were not thinking of divorce as freedom or empowerment. But they could. And you can look at your divorce as an opportunity as well.
In her book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb says, “A series of studies by the researcher Daniel Gilbert at Harvard found that in responding to challenging life events from the devastating (becoming handicapped, losing a loved one) to the difficult (a divorce, an illness), people do better than they anticipate. They believe that they’ll never laugh again, but they do. They think they’ll never love again, but they do.”
In Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex: A Hands-On, Practical Guide to Communicating with a Difficult Ex-Spouse, authors Julie A. Ross and Judy Corcoran say, “Your divorce most likely presents you with an opportunity to reinvent yourself once you move past this trying time.”
And an anonymous person posted on Reddit:
“Two months after he blew my life up–after weeks of getting little to no sleep, of waking up with my heart racing at all hours of the night, of not being able to eat without feeling nauseous, of deep feelings of despair, loneliness, and inadequacy, of reevaluating what my life can and should look like–I finally accepted the decision. … All of this is to say: it may not feel like it when you’re at ground zero or even just a few feet above the ground, but it will get better. It will be hard, and at times awful and like you’re drowning, but learn to accept the lifesavers that are thrown your way, and learn to embrace the version of yourself that those close to you see and love and admire. There can be beauty in endings if you look for them.”
So I’m here to tell you divorce is like a boiled egg.
I know; you’re saying, “What?”; so allow me to explain more.
Our relationships are like a pot of water. If the pot of water is just sitting there without anything happening, there’s no energy; there’s nothing going on. It’s just a pot with water in it.
If you add fire to that pot, you now are creating some energy in the relationship. You are heating up the water. The molecules in the water start moving around and start bumping into each other. That’s how we interact with each other. As you increase the heat, the molecules move faster and faster, bumping into each other more and more. The water begins to boil harder.
If you have too much energy, however, you then run the risk of the water boiling over out of the pot. You can burn yourself in addition to making a mess. Now your energy has become negative, and potentially dangerous, because there’s too much energy.
You can use the boiling water – the energy – in a positive way, though. You can boil pasta; you can steam vegetables; you can use the steam to take creases out of your shirt; and you can boil an egg. The point is you can use energy for something positive.
You don’t want the conflict in your divorce turned up so high that it’s spilling out all over the place and burning people. That is negative energy. That negative energy will destroy your family.
The goal is to keep your divorce at the same level as the pot of boiling water where you can boil an egg. You’re not denying the energy and the heat and the bumping into each other; rather, you are harnessing the energy for something positive and productive.
Don’t give up. As someone once said, “Take your ‘Eeyore time’ … and then you get to say ‘Okay. Enough of that. Time to fix this shit.’”
Where you at first only saw the fire and the scorching water, you can now see the good that was created from it – the boiled egg.
Keith Grossman is a Peace Shark, a gentle warrior, who helps people, and the professionals who serve them, reorganize their families in a cooperative, honorable, and solution-focused way through divorce, child custody, and related family law issues.
Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an Educator-at-Law.
Keith has been AV rated by Martindale Hubbell and has been recognized as a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Southwestern State College, teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution, Elder Law, Law Office Management, and Comparative Criminal Justice. He is a Florida Supreme Court Approved Assistant Trainer in Family and County Mediation. He is the Managing Editor of the Lee County Bar Association’s publication for lawyers.
He also is the writer of the blog www.PeaceShark.com.