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divorce depression strategies

July 6, 2012

Very few of these were my idea, but they are what’s working for me. Plus, in sharing them with you, I seize another opportunity to “write” in the form of a 10-point list, which, yes, we all know is a little bit of a cop out.

1. Don’t be afraid to cop out. You may make plans to do something fun in full good faith and with every expectation of it being fun, but when it comes to the moment of getting dressed and leaving your house, if you don’t want to do it, don’t be afraid to say so. Obviously if an individual person or persons is/are depending on you, you may want to try to find some joy in meeting their needs. But if it’s a group thing, a party, something you can back out of without anybody else being adversely effected, don’t be afraid to do what you gotta to do to take care of you. I feel safe at home, and I need to feel safe right now. I’m starting to go out when I can, but I’m also trying not to punish myself for wanting to stay in my den and lick my wounds.

2. Focus on the positive. A friend suggested I start every day by making a list of things I’m thankful for, and it’s been great. It sounds obvious, but on a moment-to-moment basis, when going through something as tragic as the impromptu end of what was supposed to be a lifetime relationship, it can actually be really, really hard to find things to feel good about. Of all the things you might put your understandably limited will power into, seeking out things to be thankful for every day is worth the effort. Even though my list, based on what is immediately around me at the moment I wake up, is limited at best – “I’m so grateful for this dog and this cat and this snuggly bed and this little house and the sunshine coming through the window” – by beginning the day thinking about the positive, I have done much to change the tenor of the ensuing 24 hours.

3. Pray often. Or meditate. Or take ten deep breaths and relax. I get a lot out of prayer and communion with a Christian God, and I highly recommend it. But the important thing is, in whatever way you can, connect to your spirit and the spiritual aspect of life on earth. Only then you can connect your spirit to your body, your thoughts, and your feelings, and only then will you find that your actions can work to create peace instead of conflict. In the immortal words of Shep Book, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just believe in something.” I actually disagree that it doesn’t matter what you believe, but I see his larger point, which is that believing and investing in something larger than yourself is essential to living a fulfilling life.

4. As I regaled her with my most recent round of  lawyer, disclosure, discovery, and settlement bullshit, a friend recently told me, “Well, at this point, the idea is to say whatever you can to make the numbers come out in your favor.” “That’s funny,” I replied, “I thought the idea was to tell the truth.”

It was like a lightning bolt. I totally did not understand the rules of the game. I was not in fact even playing the same game as my ex for the first six months.

If your divorce is not the result of a mutual decision, do not be lulled into thinking that the values you shared during your marriage have anything to do with what happens afterwards. Protect yourself; think of yourself. Find a lawyer you trust and do right by yourself.

5. Use the opportunity to think about gender roles. After my ex proposed, I spent several months reading equal parts bridal magazines and feminist manifestos against marriage. The one which called for the abolition of the institution entirely read, approximately:

Why do we chose to be wives? White male status rests on property ownership, success in military or business ventures, or intellectual achievements. But class standing for women is defined solely in terms of sexual relationships. Their power and economic ability derive from a single amorous relationship with a man on whom they are entirely dependent. This is the female world of the social contract: women denied autonomy depend on protection and struggle to make the best deal possible for themselves and their children. Women must look beyond the confines of the nuclear family and see themselves not as wives or mothers, but as members of an historical continuum of women who could progress from dependence to autonomy. Marriage perpetuates negative hierarchical divisions. Marriage is tainted by the historical residue of female subordination.

I’d love to credit the book more accurately, but it’s currently in a storage unit in the control of my ex-MIL on the other side of the country. At any rate, I was apparently more influenced by the bridal magazines than the books. The degree to which I was willing to subordinate all my interests to his astonishes me, and I’m really interested in figuring out how to avoid ever making that mistake again.

6. Make sure you have a constant supply of chocolate, whether in the form of bars, ice cream, or various dried and covered fruits.

7. Relish what I hereby name the Magic Mike Moment. We are experiencing an unprecedented level of male objectification in the film industry. What with all the Chris Pines, new-and-improved Robert Downey, Jrs., Chris Hemsworths, and Channing Tatums on the big screen this summer, you will not want for fulfilling fantasy inspirations to go with your Pocket Rocket.

8. Get a Pocket Rocket.

9. If you are a guy, relish in the fact that there are many, many women out there relishing the Magic Mike Moment whom you, possibly with the help of a quick six-week dose of Crunch Ab Attack!, could satisfy. Our desire has finally been validated, and we are not afraid to express it. You don’t have to look exactly like that to be that interested in what pleases us.

10. On any given Friday night, should you receive a now weekly threatening fax from your ex’s lawyer, don’t be afraid to turn to your parents, family, and friends for comfort. And if, after such comfort has been given, you ask your dad, “Well, what should I do now?” and he says, “Have a glass of champagne and put your feet up. There’s nothing else you can do,” then you would be well-advised to take his suggestion.

All right, that’s enough for a Friday night. Next week I just might investigate the ways in which C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed, an account of his response to losing his wife to cancer, can provide insight on divorce.

hld6 readers, thanks for listening, and have a great weekend!

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