As with a lot of blogs this series has been circulating in my head for a while. Sometimes there are threads of things I want to say but the whole vision hasn’t come together, or I’m not clear about what my overriding message is – and a muddle blog post is not much help at all! There are also times when I think about saying things but I worry that they might be seen as controversial and so I have historically shied away from them. But it occurred to me the other day that if I shy away from talking about certain topics then it deprives people who might benefit from them the chance to read, consider and reflect – and really isn’t that the point of a blog? If it doesn’t resonate with you then you can move on but if it does then it may start you along a path of thought you might have not otherwise discover.
Divorce and separation are so many things to anyone going through them. There can be relief as well as heart ache, there can be freedom as well as budget restrictions, there can be new life as well as an ending. Anyone who has been through it knows that it’s complicated and it’s not one emotion from start to finish. There is a healing process that I have talked about on this blog before – where you go through different emotions – but equally there can be a variety of emotions in each stage.
Understandably most people going through a separation often think more about the ending of the relationship and their emotions relate to grief around this. For many it is hard to see what the next chapter might look like – let alone think about it in anything approaching positive terms. But like it or not divorce and separation marks the start of a new chapter. For everyone going through this there is life as a couple and then life as a single person. That raises the question what will this next chapter be like for you? For many people the beginning may be one more characterised by negative emotions: fear, sadness, depression, anxiety, anger, resentment, guilt and others. It’s important to honour these emotions as part of where you are at right now. The purpose of this blog is not to tell you that these emotions are in any way wrong, unhelpful or somehow unnatural. They are completely normal, understandable and usual. The point I wanted to start with is that once you are separated and living in your new home (or possibly your old home without the other person) this is the start of a new chapter. It is a new chapter and it is a chapter that starts with this situation but may end somewhere completely differently. So if we move forward in time a little to an appropriate point in this next chapter it is here that I would like to move the focus.
Significant life events often bring about many unsettling emotions but they can also elicit big life changes that aren’t naturally connected to the life event. Think about newspaper stories of people having near death experiences and quitting their jobs to do something completely different, or experiencing the death of a friend or family member and taking up a completely new hobby that transforms their fitness, or other life skills in some way. For many people a relationship breakdown can start a re-evaluation of many areas of their life. Relationships naturally require compromises at times in order to accommodate differing needs (whose parents do we spend Christmas with, what do we watch on the TV together, do we have a date night or are you seeing friends, to name the first three that occurred to me) but as a single person you may find you no longer need to make those compromises about how you conduct your life and spend your time (there may course be compromise needed in making arrangements for children), which raises the question what do you want? This might start with what you watch on Netflix but it could also grow into a whole host of other changes: how you arrange your home, how you organise your daily routine, how often you see friends and family, right through to what do you personally feel drawn to and what really are your deepest desires for the life you are living right now?
Since giving up working as a solicitor just over 7 years ago to work as a mediator full time (and setting up LKW Family Mediation) I have been on a journey to live my life in the way that is most aligned with who I am. This started when I opened my first mediation file and realised I was replicating how I opened files as a solicitor and questioned why I needed to do that when I was now running my own mediation practice. It’s not just about the admin! Since setting up LKW Family Mediation I have worked with various different life coaches, started regularly meditating, taken up yoga, done two levels of Reiki training and reflected long and hard on how I am, what values are important to me, and how I want to live my life and carry out the work I do. This is not an overnight thing. There are days when you think you are very aligned with who you are and you feel good with where you’re at, and days when you’re not sure, feel insecure, and wonder if everyone thinks you’ve become a weirdo, or gone a bit mad. But I wanted to write a blog series about this because I think we do not talk about the good transformations that divorce can ultimately bring, or the fact that focusing on and opening up to this possibility can change how you feel and handle your relationship breakdown. It doesn’t mean it won’t feel messy, or that there won’t be grief. It’s just about inviting the notion that there might not just be light at the end of the tunnel, there might be a good, or even beautiful, view there.
So in this series I am going to be talking about transformation and self-development; and about what this means and tools and tips that might help, and why I think it’s an important but overlooked part of separation. I’ll also be sharing ideas on professionals you might work with to get the best out of this transformation as well as some insights from my own journey over the last 7 years.
If you’d like to get more of the tips and guidance offered in the blog directly into your inbox then why not sign up to our free mailing list? You can also join Soulful Separation Support which is a free online community for those going through a separation, where you can get support from others in the same situation as well as professionals working with couples and individuals going through a separation.