I got divorced 4 years ago and it was an event that caused a big rift between my mother and me (I was very close to her in my 38 years of life until this point). She told me that because I got a divorce, I ruined my children’s lives and was a bad person… and didn’t talk to me for a year. I eventually figured out that this reaction to my divorce was all about my mom’s thoughts and her own models and not actually about me. However, there is still a part of my brain that agrees with my mom since all my life up until the divorce she was the one who validated all of my decisions and gave me all of my reassurance in life. (Thankfully this is no longer the case – even though it took a difficult event like this to change the dynamics and get me to make my own decisions and have my own back.)
Anyway, I drop the kids off at their dad’s for the weekend and I find myself feeling sadness and shame — this happens routinely for the first few hours after dropping them off – almost every time. I have tried to find the thought that causes these feelings and I think it is this: “You are selfish and you broke your children’s home and ruined their lives.” There is so much evidence to the contrary of this. My ex and I get along better as friends and co-parents than we did when married, we both are in great relationships now with partners who are much more compatible, we now have a loving extended/blended family and a village to raise our kids, the kids are doing well and love the people who have come into their lives as a result of the divorce, the kids have great new role models they would not have had in their lives (e.g., their step-mom), my ex and I have both matured as people, we are able to navigate this pandemic so much easier with our two households and the additional resources and step-parents and grandparents we have introduced because of the divorce… I could go on.
Despite this evidence though that the divorce was ultimately good, why am I still thinking this old thought that came from my mother? And how can I make it go away?
I also think there may be part of me that thinks “It’s not ok for divorce to be good” because I was always taught that divorce is bad (probably partially from my religious upbringing, etc.) So if I believe it’s good, I’m a bad person for believing that.
I know none of this serves me. 🙂 I’m just seeking some guidance on how to practice a new way to think about this that is more healing and helpful.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!