By Jane Cottrell, Guest Blogger
Katherine Miller blogged on the subject of why it’s so hard for people to finish their divorce. Kathryn Lazar wrote a blog (you can read it here) that struck me as a companion piece. When I thought about it, I realized that these two articles captured something I had experienced. On the chance that sharing this may give others confidence that their emotional state is not unique and there is nothing wrong with feeling as they do, I grabbed the pen from Melissa Rutkoske this month.
Miller writes of a sense of entitlement at the beginning of a divorce that gives way to the question: “What is it I want?” From experience I would offer that this evolution takes different time for different people. I remember proposing in December a divorce settlement that my then husband did not accept until the following September. The intervening nine months were necessary, I believe, for him to accomplish mentally and emotionally what Miller describes: a coming to terms with oneself, one’s values and goals. For me, the same nine months were exasperating, not least because that period was the most intense, especially in terms of legal fees, of any phase of our divorce, which took two years. I could ill afford the delay, literally as well as psychically. But that was what happened, and it happened because human beings do not grow or change or make decisions in the same way or at the same speed.
What I should have done during that period was to take the advice in Lazar’s blog. I mean all of it. To my credit, I did have a counsellor, who reminded me that decision-making in divorce may not serve my best interest if it is not true to myself. That is, my self. If I fail to take care of me, who will? Divorce is emotional for sure, but the best decisions, as Miller points out, are not emotional. Sometimes — indeed, often — people make decisions based on habit, which may be thinking about what the other party would like or what the other party will think if the decision is this, or if it is that.
I remember taking all the Mahler CDs (yes, it was a while ago) because my husband didn’t like Mahler, and leaving all the Bruckner CDs, which he loved, despite the fact that I liked them too. That would have been a time to think, as Miller coaches, “What is really going on?” The answer could have been “We are dividing our music library.” That is a task that can be approached many ways, and I chose the way least connected to my interests. A small matter, perhaps, but it illustrates Miller’s point and Lazar’s at the same time: to make decisions that are true to yourself, you need to stand back and think about what’s really going on.
Doing so is not selfish; it is responsible, and adults –like it or not — are responsible for themselves.