After hanging onto my marriage for way too long (to the point where things got Divorce Court ugly), I finally mustered the courage to end the 18-year union with my high school sweetheart. Although I was the one to finally walk away, I was devastated by the death of the dreams I'd held for myself and my children and the idea of a single future.
After a decade, a suicide attempt, several therapists, and a couple of antidepressants, I've come to understand that I was causing my own suffering by torturing myself with expectations of what I thought my life should be. Now, I realize that there are no "shoulds." There is only what is.
By ditching the "shoulds" and consciously accepting and being open to whatever unfolds, I have been able to alleviate most of my pain and suffering. Suffering comes from our attachment to our thoughts about what happens, not what actually happens.
In Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, Byron Katie explains, "A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It is not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering."
She continues this idea with a metaphor, "Thoughts are like the breeze or the leaves on the trees or the raindrops falling ... through inquiry we can make friends with them. Would you argue with a raindrop? Raindrops aren't personal and neither are thoughts."
In other words, Katie advises us to meet our thoughts with understanding and productive questions. She proposes that behind every uncomfortable feeling, there's a thought that's driving it. To change stressful, painful feelings, we must understand the original thought causing it rather than looking outside of ourselves at circumstances or people.
Learning to loosen my attachment to my thoughts has changed my life for the better and allowed me to see the humor and wisdom in the uncomfortable growth period after my divorce.
Here are 18 lessons I learned from my life after divorce: