Get off the cross. We need the wood.

In my unofficial role as a Divorce Doula, I’ve witnessed a number of people going through a separation or divorce assume the role of the martyr, the one who selflessly suffers through the never-ending bad decisions made by their ex, pitied for having to deal with such an irrational creature, the one who is always the victim. They’re like the Lindsay Lohans of the divorce world: it’s always someone else’s fault. During a divorce, it becomes so easy to lay all the blame on the other person, especially if it was their decision to leave. But the dissolution of a marriage is complicated, and rarely is it as black & white as it may appear to the outside world. Anyone who is divorced has regrets about about how they may have behaved during their marriage: things they did or said, or the things they didn’t do or say. I believe the true mettle of a person is determined by how they conduct themselves during the divorce proceedings & choose to carry on with their lives. One of the nicest & most unexpected compliments I’ve ever received was from my ex’s divorce lawyer.  In his business, he said, it isn’t often that you work with two adults who are able to put their egos aside and work together in a respectful manner, who honestly want to move on with their lives and do what’s best for their children. Usually, he said, there’s at least one asshole in the room.

Over the years, I have spent time with people &  groups working to rehabilitate child soldiers in northern Uganda & have met individuals who’ve suffered atrocities & injustices that most of us can not imagine. People who have forgiven their abductors, their rapists, their oppressors – whether they were part of a rebel army or ruling government -so that the community as a whole may heal. The work that my friend & personal hero Dr. Erin Baines has done in the area of Restorative Justice will give you some idea of the vastness of the human capacity to forgive.

Back here at home, I have seen some exes who just can not let go of their anger towards their former spouse. Even after they have moved on to new opportunities or partners, they can not stop punishing their ex for “ruining their lives.” The punishment is doled out in many forms – manipulation of cash or assets, gossip, turning the children against the other parent. These “victims” behave with such petulance, pettiness & immaturity that you begin to wonder who is the parent & who is the child.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that my ex & I are committed co-parents.  We don’t always agree on things like their activities or discipline, but we discuss our differences openly & work together to come up with a solution that we can both live with. There comes a point in your separation or divorce when you need to make compromises, put your ego aside and act like an adult. Making small sacrifices,  practicing kindness & offering forgiveness will reap positive results for both you & your ex, but most importantly, your children will benefit. Think of it as taking one for the team – the best team you have ever had.

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