Sunday, July 29, 2007

Build a New Self. Do Not Let Rejection Rule.

I was reading an article in Psychology Today by Carlin Flora entitled "Dumped, But Not Down" and found myself thinking that my ability to move forward was partially resulted from not fixating on a failed relationship. Instead, I regularly took steps that eventually lead me to believing in a new self-image and future of possibilities.

It's not be easy to take the first few steps back into the world without a significant other, but it is possible to create a new direction. Over time, accepting a new reality may lead to better self-esteem and maybe a better outlook on life.

1. Remember That Your Are a Good Person. An important base of my self-esteem is knowing I am a good person and that I did the right thing or took the right path. In the case my marriage, I know that I tried my best and did nothing to wrong my ex. I even attempted reconciliation before calling it quits. Even when my ex was lying to me, I tried to be honest about where I stood. By doing the right thing, I have a clean conscience and know that I set a good example for my kids. To me, being a good person gave me inner strength. I hope that can hold true for others.

2. Be Honest with Yourself. When I found out that my ex was cheating, I went through receipts, emails, etc. to find evidence because my ex was never truthful with me. After I found proof, I knew exactly where I stood, my marriage stood and my ex stood. I was brutally honest with myself about the details because I knew that the chance of reconciling my marriage was slim. Then, after discovering professions of love to another woman in my ex's writings, I knew my marriage was over. I felt hurt and betrayed for months, but it was easier to move forward. Accepting the true situation made me realize I needed to take care of myself and my kids. I had a new reality of being a single mom, and I could not change this destiny.

3. Stay Optimistic, Especially on Depressing Days. Optimism is not easy, and self-help books at most will help get you started. Optimism is a state of mind that you regularly work on and live in, especially in rough times. I have read books like "The Road to Optimism: Change Your Language-Change Your Life!" by J. Mitchell Perry and "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. These books talk about different aspects of living a positive life, but I found it worth reading a few books on the subject. To get through tough this tough situation, I needed tools to cope. Positive thinking makes to road to a "recovery" easier--stay focussed on positive things in your life and do not dwell on the failed marriage. (I even read books by Ghandi and Thich Nhat Hanh to obtain different perspectives on humankind.)

4. You Still Have a Future, Just a Different One. Being separated or divorced is scary. It's a complete identity change. By accepting the singledom identity, I am learning to accept myself and my new future as a single woman and mother, just like college days--except for two young kids, a mortgage, etc. Well, it's not exactly the same, but I have gotten use to the idea. Not embraced the idea, just accepted it. I am looking at my future without my ex. He will be in the kids' lives, but not in mine.

5. If You Tried Reconciliation, Then You Gave Him or Her a Chance. Separation or divorce occurs for many reasons. If reconciliation is given an honest chance to succeed, then the outcome should not be a regret. Either the relationship works or it does not. Either way, an honest try should make both parties involved feel like there was a genuine effort to make things work. In my case, my ex went to marriage counseling and attempted to reconcile while keeping his girlfriend on the side. He lied when I asked him to drop the girlfriend, and he lied when he said he would not give her anymore gifts or money. To me, his dishonesty gave me no choice but to separate. I did however make my ex say he wanted a separation because there was no way he was going to come back years later and say I was the one who wanted a separation. I know this sounds hokey, but this happened to my friend's mother. I gave my ex a chance, but I do not think he wanted to reconcile. I gave my ex a chance and feel that separation was the right thing. I have no guilt or regrets.

It's difficult to accept a new identity and future path. Losing a marriage is a blow to self-esteem and can be a difficult hurdle to jump when re-building self-esteem. Fixating on what was lost however will not make the future any easier to accept. Taking small steps to re-build an identity and a different life will pay off over time. If there are kids, they will see this and learn from this example.

NOTE: I saw a therapist after I was separated. I had to watch my spending and could not go frequently, but the therapist helped me understand my situation. Therapists and support groups are amazing resources in times of need.

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