I’m a big fan of quotes. In my opinion a single well-crafted line can be worth more than an entire book of prose. I’ve copied down quotes since I was a kid; they are littered in frames around my house, they fill multiple journal pages on my shelves and are taped all over my computer monitor. So, it only seems appropriate that I would lean on quotes during the upheaval caused by my divorce. Sure, I wrote a whole book of prose about it (The Sh!t No One Tells You About Divorce), but there is something about a solid quote that can get the mind moving toward a different point of view.
Here are a few quotes that helped me get to the other side of my divorce journey. I hope they can help other people as well.
I came across a quote during my divorce turmoil and it stuck with me, “When you have a choice to be right or to be kind, choose kind.” One of the most difficult parts of divorce was the fact that my ex often seemed to have a completely different version of reality than I did. I would often get caught up in these discrepancies and dig in my heels when my version of the truth was being denied or dismissed. Eventually I realized this was taking up far too much of my energy.
My ex and I disagree on a number of things; that fact is not going to magically change. Me trying to prove my case on a regular basis is simply never going to have the result I’m hoping for. The kindest thing I can do for both of us is to let go of the need to be “right” and accept that we just see the world in two different ways.
When an issue arises, I have to evaluate whether it is worth my peace to dig in for a battle. These days, years after our split, it’s not often that a battle is worth my energy. Being right is no longer the priority – peace is.
Another one of my favorite quotes is, “Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could be different.” I’ve leaned on this quote frequently throughout my life and during my divorce in particular. In the beginning of my divorce, I had a constant feeling rumbling in my gut that was a mixture of resentment, sorrow, rage and regret. I was so exhausted from carrying that feeling around. I realized the only way to be free was to forgive myself and my ex for all the ways things went wrong between us.
Buddhists believe there are no mistakes, only lessons. I’m pretty sure that’s just something we tell ourselves to feel better about our mistakes; but it’s healthier than the alternative, so let’s go with the Buddhists on this one. The past can’t be different, but the future can look a whole lot better if we take the lessons and leave the anger.
One of my friends went through a divorce after his marriage slowly died on the vine. I asked him if he regretted all the years he spent with his ex-wife. He quickly answered, “No. We are all the sum total of our lives and we have to let the hatred go.”
In time, I hope we can all land on this level of acceptance about the journey that led us to where we are right now and what that journey can teach us about where we are headed. The kindest thing you can do for yourself following divorce is to find a way to forgiveness, so that you can move forward unencumbered by the past.
Grace is the ultimate destination following divorce; but the route to grace is rarely a smooth one. There is an Anne Lamott quote that I love, “So where do we find grace and light? If you mean right now, the answer is nowhere. Grace always does bat last, and the light always overcomes the darkness – always, historically. But not necessarily later the same day, or tomorrow, after lunch.”
“Grace bats last” should be a mantra of divorce. You’ll get there eventually, but probably not tomorrow, after lunch.
After years spent in a bad partnership, I held divorce in my head as a finish line of sorts. I thought as soon as I got divorced, I would finally be in a better place. Life could begin again, flowers would bloom, there might even be a musical number or two. Then I got to my divorce and life wasn’t exactly as I imagined it would be. It wasn’t an end at all; it was the beginning of another really long haul. I was not pleased with this delay in musical numbers!
I wanted my healing to be done and I wanted to move on to my next chapters unscathed. Instead, I was stuck in the trenches of grief and anger, frustrated with myself and the universe for how long it was taking me to get better. I had to let go of my need for things to happen RIGHT NOW and realize that grace was coming, but not today or tomorrow after lunch. Ultimately grace is a long game and the passing of time is the only real way to find it. It can’t and won’t be rushed so don’t bother getting inpatient.
The single biggest shift in my divorce came when both my ex and I started extending a bit of grace toward each other. Instead of defaulting to anger or blame we have learned to take a beat, take a breath and give grace a second to show up. If you are on your own divorce journey I highly recommend doing the same. Give grace a second to show up. She bats last but she’s worth the wait.