Accepting Change and Moving Forward After Divorce
I’m excited to bring you a post by my colleague, Christina Rasmussen, author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh and Love Again, a bestseller about starting over after loss. I recorded a video about the loss of my firstborn son and the loss of my marriage for Christina’s book launch. You can watch it here.
Enjoy this wonderful post, and please leave comments. Thanks!
Starting over can feel tough at first because we feel so afraid and have so many doubts about the new life that is ahead of us. When we lose someone we’ve become attached to, it is disorientating and terribly uncomfortable. At such a time, the brain interprets anything new and unpredictable as a threat to our very survival. It will accept only the slightest discomfort before a full blown fight-or-flight response is triggered.
Julie joined my Life Reentry program after her husband left her for a younger woman. I remember the first time I heard her voice over the conference line as she shared her story of loss with the group. She sounded anxious. Julie told us that she’d met her husband, Joe, in high school. She got pregnant shortly after graduation, and they married. She became a stay-at-home mother, taking care of their daughter and household. Joe worked at a local gas station. All seemed well with their family for many years, and Julie was very happy with her husband.
Julie then described how one day, without any warning, she came home from running errands and found a note from Joe on the dining room table; it said he wanted a divorce and was never coming back. Julie began crying as she revealed how ashamed she felt and how scared she was not to start over. At this point, I gently interrupted her.
Interrupting someone who is in a lot of pain is one of the hardest things to do, because I don’t want to seem rude. In this case, I felt Julie had transported herself to the past. I wanted her to come back to the present, where she could use her ability to reflect on her thoughts, to get some much-needed clarity about her situation.
I asked Julie to tell the group what one feeling she most often felt as she was waking up in the morning. She said, “Dread.” I then asked her where in her body she felt this feeling. She seemed surprised that I’d asked, but she knew exactly where the feeling was located. She said, “In my chest.”
Then I asked her what kind of thoughts made her feel a sense of dread, and she said “Thinking about what my neighbors and friends must have said when they found out Joe only left me a note on the table.” She said she also felt shame when she thought about their comments.
“Were you surprised by your thoughts and feelings as you were telling us this story?” I asked.
“I’m surprised that I didn’t mention missing Joe or wanting him back,” she said. “Since he left, I’ve been trying to find a way to get him back. But the way he did what he did was terrible. No wonder I’ve been so sad. My real goal is to wake up in the morning and feel happy.”
As Julie discovered by reflecting on her feelings, although we often believe we want one thing, in reality, we want something entirely different.
If, right now, you’re spending a lot of your time caught up in the infinite loop of loss, it may be because you’re protective of your history and do not want to let it go. This is understandable. But please also know that in riding this ride, you’re not really showing yourself compassion or self-love. Though it’s okay to grieve, it is not okay to keep replaying the same mental tapes that trigger negative feelings and beliefs.
What you need to know is that we don’t lose our memories by living well after loss. On the day we accept that we’ve changed, a portal opens to a new life that has the potential to surpass our most ambitious dreams, or even to fulfill dreams we abandoned at some point in the past.
The moment you realize how different you now are from the way you were before your loss, I promise that you will stop trying to fit into the life you left behind or stay there in your mental time travel. Then you’ll grow quickly forward from the present into the future.
The past doesn’t leave.
In my book Second Firsts I take the readers on a journey out of the old life and into a new one. Teaching everyone how to use their brain to create the life they so deserve. We have all the tools we need right within us. And no I am not talking just talking about our heart and soul, but about our brain maps, our thoughts and the words we use to create our world every single day.
About the author: Christina Rasmussen is on a crusade to change the way we live after loss. As the founder of Second Firsts, an organization to help people create a pathway back to life after loss, Christina spends her time speaking, coaching, and helping thousands of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the most powerful tool for personal reinvention: the human mind. Her personal story and fresh approach to life after loss has garnered international attention. She writes for the Huffington Post, she’s been featured as a Woman Working to Do Good in the White House Blog, and she was named the Leading Mom in Business by StartupNation. Her first book, Second Firsts: Live, Laugh and Love Again, has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also sign up to receive her weekly newsletter, the “Message in a Bottle,” by visiting www.secondfirsts.com. Websites: secondfirsts.com and www.thelifestarters.org