“I feel like such a failure,” she cried. “I hate telling people I’m divorced. It just makes me sound like a failure, and I hate failing. It makes me sound like I couldn’t make my marriage work. I hate the stigma.”
Wow! She was really getting negative on herself, and although I tried to talk some sense into her, I did understand where she was coming from. I, too, struggled with the stigma of divorce. I didn’t like feeling like I had failed at my marriage. I hated the fact that I was just another statistic in the divorce archives. I felt like my marriage deserved to be more special than that — but in the end, it wasn’t.
Yes, perhaps our marriages did fail. We are now divorced. We are a statistic. But, that doesn’t mean we are failures — at all. In fact, it is what we do with that failure that ultimately determines what we gain from that experience. I argue that failing, and not learning anything from it, is a failure on your part. I would argue that failing, and learning every lesson you can from it so that you don’t fail again next time, is the ultimate show of tenacity, perseverance and success.
Your divorce is part of your story. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t shy away from it, or from sharing that fact with others. A friend of mine has a young daughter who hated her red curly hair and freckles. Early on, my friend encouraged her daughter to own it. She said, you can let people see that these things get to you, and others will feel that and react to it as well, or you can own it and make it a valuable part of who you are that you fully embrace. People will feel your confidence. What a difference that positive approach has made for this girl.
Own your divorce, don’t try to shy away from the fact that you have been through the divorce process. I have often found that once I share the fact that I am divorced, others with whom I am speaking will jump in and add, “Me too!” and appear almost relieved that they can share that fact openly without any judgments being made.
Learn from it
A failure is only a failure if you keep on doing the same things, and never look at that failure as an opportunity to learn about yourself, and change things up a bit. Don’t let your divorce lead you down a dead-end street where you feel stuck with no place to go. Instead, let your divorce become a detour. I have found some of the most interesting finds (views, restaurants, cute shops) when I have been forced to take a detour while driving. Apply that to your life as well. Make your detour an opportunity to learn something new, find someone new, become a new you.
What a shame if you go through something as painful as a divorce and don’t take advantage of that opportunity to reflect back on what you might do differently or do better next time. And, if given the opportunity for a do-over or a second chance, how fun to be able to implement those things on which you reflected. I know I am doing things differently with my second chance and this has proven to be the most amazing detour. Redirect your own perception. Instead of crying, “Life will never be good again,” say, “I can’t wait to see what Life 2.0 brings me.” Instead of lamenting, “I will never be happy again,” ask, “What can I do, or where can I go, or what can I learn that will bring me joy?” Instead of letting adversity bring you down, use that experience to raise you up. Change your perception from one of dead-end to one of opportunity and see what life brings you.
Richard Branson said, “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” What have you learned from your divorce? More importantly, have you started again? There IS hope after divorce. It’s not a failure. It’s an experience in your unique story. Own it!