As long as we blame our ex for how we feel or think, we will remain victims and powerless to change or move forward. It’s so easy to blame our ex for our choices, but at the end of the day, we need to admit that they are OUR choices. No one can make us feel any certain way unless we give them permission.
If you are ready to be empowered and begin to heal from the trauma of divorce and the blame game, check out the upcoming, free workshop, 3 Secrets to Survive the Stress of Divorce.
Janice’s Divorce Story: From First Kiss to Self-Kindness
Janice was sitting in a little mom and pop cafe, called Lordy’s Haven, staring out the window at a big gray cat sniffing around an empty cardboard box. She also admired the brilliant pink flowers of a redbud tree that was fully in bloom this last week of April. Across from her sat her best friend, Leslie, who’d just asked her how she was doing with the divorce and all.
This time of year reminded Janice of when she first met Brian, her now estranged husband after 25 years of marriage.
The Road Party
Janice began dating Brian when she was 16 years old. She was immediately captivated by his physical appearance–tall, dark hair, piercing brown eyes, olive complexion, long, lean, strong legs. He had this way of looking her in the eyes and making her feel like she was the only person who existed on the planet.
She remembers the first time Brian kissed her. Part of his charm was his confidence. She lived in rural, small town America, and one of the town’s traditions was having “road parties.”
These were gatherings of around 10 or more teenagers out on a back country road. The festivities centered around alcohol, bought by an “accommodating adult” who was more than willing to play the hero and buy a keg of beer for these teens seeking to numb out from the pain of daily life.
It was a balmy Friday in late April after an especially stressful week at school , and Janice couldn’t wait to feel the buzz of the booze, to calm her frantic mind. After downing her 3rd Budlight within 30 minutes, she looked across the crowd and saw the most handsome guy she’d ever seen. They locked eyes. How could she not have known of this fine male speciman before today?
Potholes on Douglas Road
He briskly walked toward her and extended his hand, “Hi, I’m Brian. I’m Teddy’s cousin, visiting from Texas. He told me I might find some find ladies here tonight, but I had idea… I know this is a bold question, but are you with someone?“
“Oh no,” she assured him. “Nice to meet you too. Want a beer?” she asked nervously. After imbibing a few beers together, he asked Janice to go for a walk down the country road which was filled with potholes. Janice lost her footing and tripped in one of the holes, mildly spraining her ankle.
Brian was very concerned and swooped in to rescue her. He felt bad for having the idea to walk down such an uneven road in the first place. He picked her up as if she were a feather. She could feel her heartbeat against his. They gazed into each other’s eyes and he came in for “the kiss.”
He was so tender with her, so caring and loving. He kissed her for what seemed forever. They became inseparable after that. Brian was a couple of years older and had already graduated, and so he decided to actually move to her hometown in rural Illinois to be closer to her.
31 Years Later–Marriage, Kids, and Divorce
Six years later they’re walking down the aisle in a small, Methodist church, married by her beloved uncle. Two years after that baby #1 comes along, Jason, truly a remarkable, calm little boy with the cutest dimples. Childbirth was fairly easy for Janice and they didn’t want Jason growing up as an only child, and so two years later, little Jenny came along, making their perfect little family of four complete.
Everyone Was Shocked
“Did I lose you?” Leslie snapped her out of her daze.
“Sorry, Les. I’m just in shock. I was thinking back 31 years ago right around this time of year when I first met Brian. It was at that road party out on Douglas Road, right at the end of our sophomore year. You were there. Remember how smitten I was? And he was too! It just makes me so sad. How did we get here?”
“Yah I know. It’s hard to believe. You two seemed so perfect for each other. And he always treated you like a princess–even moved out of state to be with you. He’s the last person I would have suspected to have an affair. Did you have any warning signs?” asked Leslie.
Were There Warning Signs of Divorce?
This was all very new for Janice. He’d only come to her a week ago and dropped the bombshell.
“Were there signs?….” Janice repeated the question and sighed. “Last week I felt totally blindsided, but I’ve done a lot of soul searching these past few days. If I’m brutally honest with myself, yes there were signs. Big bright neon signs that I just ignored because I took our marriage for granted. We had begun doing more and more things with our friends and other family members, but not with each other.”
The Aftermath-Blame, Blame, Blame
Can you relate to Janice’s story at all? She was very tempted to place all of the blame on Brian. In fact, even though she admitted to seeing the signs, her anger returned. “How could he have done this to US? Why didn’t he let me know how unhappy he was? I may have taken things for granted, but I wasn’t even given a chance to make things right! Doesn’t 31 years together warrant a conversation?!”
Fast forward 10 years. Janice is happily single and dating on occasion. She is in no hurry to marry again. She made peace with Brian, and they are even able to attend family functions with their kids and not be awkward anymore.
The Biggest Lessons After The Blame Game
Janice says her biggest gift from the divorce was learning to be in tune with herself, to really pay attention to her relationship with herself first. Was she being kind, loving and nurturing to herself no matter what?
Secondly, how was she doing in the relationship department with everyone else? What kind of impact did she have on others? How did others view her?
She found that by loving, accepting and forgiving herself, this self-advocacy bled over into all of her other relationships. Self-love was a sort of insurance that she would always be safe and supported in the world.
It took Janice several years of holding onto grudges and resentment toward Brian before she was able to heal. One day she realized that her anger and bitterness were truly damaging herself more than anyone else. She thought, “I deserve to feel better than this. Who’s stopping me from feeling OK? ME! How do I need to change my perspective so I can move forward?”
Self-Inquiry For Self-Healing
Please take a look at the questions below. Set aside an hour and have a heart-to-heart with yourself and write the answers out on a piece of paper.
- Did you witness any signs of disconnection before your divorce (not planning activities together, not really talking things through, even arguing (which is healthy to an extent for all couples), not having the tough conversations about vulnerable feelings of hurt and heartache, not sitting next to each other on the coach, not having fun together, etc.)?
- Is it possible that your communication style (which might be very quiet and avoidant) contributed to the divorce because you didn’t express your needs and wants? If so, how?
- How can you grieve what once was and go forward? Getting a divorce, even if it was YOU who initiated it, warrants a time to grieve. Give it some attention. “I give myself permission to grieve the loss of this relationship. I honor our time together and all I learned from my ex even if it ended in divorce.”
What Are The Consequences Of Continuing To Blame Our Ex?
Blaming impedes the healing process by affecting us physcially, emotionally and mentally.
a. Stress takes a toll on our physical health, lowering our immune system, and making us more susceptible to illness. When we are emotionally distraught, this energy affects every cell of our body. The mind-body connection is a real thing. See Messages from the Body by Michael Lincoln, PhD.
b. Blame and anger towards our ex keeps us stuck in a vicious cycle. As long as we blame our ex for where we are at, this anger energy will repel the things we truly want, like happy relationships and fulfilling experiences. We will have a tendency to wallow in self-pity. We won’t attract the healthy partners we want in our next relationship.
c. Dwelling on the past can take a mental toll on us, which can lead to anxiety and depression. We may begin to form beliefs about groups of people, like “All men are jerks.” This type of generalization is distorted thinking, not based in truth.
When we form beliefs about the world due to being hurt, such as “It’s not safe to trust myself to get into another relationship because I will get hurt and disappointed,” we create self-fulfilling prophecies. Our thinking takes a stranglehold on us and if we believe something is true, our mind has a way of shifting our energy so that it becomes our reality.
I’m Guilty Of The Blame Game
I have been a victim to the blame game myself in my last marriage. I’ve made many arguments as to why it’s HIS fault I gave custody of our daughter, Maddie, to him so long ago. But what if it just happened this way, and no one is to blame? Do we HAVE to blame to someone?
I’ve also blamed my current husband for how I feel at times, disrespected, unheard, misunderstood. My Higher Self knows I can’t blame anyone for how I feel, and that includes myself. You see, the tendency if we don’t feel comfortble blaming another human being is to turn that blame right back on ourselves. Neither approach works.
What if we don’t blame ourselves or our ex? What if the relationship was meant to end exactly as it did? Perhaps if we take on the belief, “We were supposed to get divorced….because we did. Something better is waiting around the corner for me…I choose to relax and receive that knowing.”
How does that feel? I’m not minimizing the divorce and its impact. I’m expanding our view of it so that we can make friends with reality. When we beat our heads against the wall of the past or how things “should” be, we will get a bloody head. I have the battle scars to prove it.
Ready for another way, to stop the blaming and to start to heal? Join me for 3 Secrets to Survive the Stress of Divorce below.
Holistic Divorce/Loss Coach