Yes, this is what happens when the whirly parts of your life of kids and family and work, are hit with the reality of your marriage dissolving. Forty-five percent of marriages now end in divorce. It is a sad statistic but maybe also just a reality that needs to be accepted. People have different ideas of marriage and its function in our lives. (If you get the chance, check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs from a marriage perspective. It provides insight for why marriage nowadays is more than just the lower levels of the hierarchy, and gives a deeper understanding and compassion about why marriages now are unique to marriages in the past.) In this series, I share with you my perspective which is intertwined with others experiences as well. We all cope with life’s challenges in many ways, and I suggest first see a very good therapist. Our most recent marriage therapist by the way, was one of the top-notch therapists I have ever met. We were lucky to have him and if we had seen him earlier maybe our marriage would have been sparred. I have utilized therapy for several years in the past for my own parents’ divorce, the subsequent switch of parenting roles with my dad later in life, postpartum depression, and a few times for marriage therapy. Thus, for me, the idea of counseling and explaining my same ‘story’ again seemed tedious, boring and in my case, unnecessary. I do encourage therapy though!
So please use my guide as just that, a guide to consider along with your own coping processes. The unfolding of this guide came about because I realized I had a ready, steady set of tools that I have known for nearly two decades, that could be put to use for something introspective but practical too. Sometimes we think that yoga is only for transformational purposes (which can lead to spiritual bypassing) and forget that yoga is for the householder, the every day person living life. This Yoga Guide to Divorce is primarily from the perspective of parents with kids. It can certainly be used for anyone, but
the difference is when you divorce with kids involved, there is no true separation from that former spouse. You are tied, forever, through your children. Thus, you can’t just walk away and ‘get over it’ in the same way as others might try to. Note that this guide does not include the mass challenges in domestic violence divorces, challenges that require way more expertise than this guide can provide.
Insight into my background and perspective: When it came down to the marriage ending, surprisingly, I was relieved and ready for this marriage to end. Yet, I also knew I needed to get grounded, and I turned to Yoga philosophy as my way to be grounded through this transition. (To be clear, I was not turning toward asana/physical postures. I was turning toward the roots of Yoga.) So here I am: Looking for some way to be less stressed and move more gracefully, and more kindly through what can be an extremely challenging transition period. I don’t wish to call attention to the reasons for my divorce, only to say that there are reasons for everyone. We really tried, really really tried. And likely, we were ‘broken’ for many years. We muddled through the busy life with kids, a dog, and jobs, trying ways to get more connected, but underneath it all, there was this struggle, this gnawing feeling for me – like that leftover tag you want to take off of the inside of your shirt; or that piece of food that gets stuck in your back tooth – that something just wasn’t’ quite right, that you really couldn’t trust yourself to be vulnerable with the other person. And if you couldn’t trust this, then how could you really be yourself, or grow in the way you know you were meant to grow?
The last thing I wanted was a divorce. When my parents divorced when I was in middle school/high school, it was not just divorce, it was my dad abandoning the family. He was around but not as a consistent figure, and opted for a lifestyle that didn’t really include much space for kids or kid activities. The saving grace was that after the divorce, my twin brother and I lived in the same house we grew up, with a consistent parental figure, my mother. She struggled, as expected, and I was astonished at seeing my mother so vulnerable and raw in moments, yet courageous and strong throughout. As a young teenager, I didn’t know what to do with it though. There were no ‘family therapists’ back then that families saw, at least not a middle class family struggling to see how to move forward with the shards of their once happy household. But was it happy? I don’t know really. It was a house where we did fun family stuff, where my dad was out of town regularly, and when he was in town there was some arguing, ok sometimes, more than just some arguing. But people argue especially when you own a small business together. So I would just vow to never own my own business or marry anyone that did.
Well, I did marry someone that built his own business from himself up, and I did help him with his business, and we did argue. How is that for karma?? Now, I can’t blame owning a business as the factor, but anything that doesn’t make room for fun, connection as well accountability, may not last. And we struggled. You see, that there was a background for me of not wanting to get divorced, because divorced = abandonment. I often refer to divorce as dissolution, because when a path closes down and ends, sometimes you can see things down another road ahead more clearly. When I was able to see that my kids wouldn’t be abandoned, then I knew it was time to see things more clearly.
Back to Yoga and why I am seeking Yoga to support me, and hopefully others. I have taught yoga for 20 years, in addition to leading yoga teacher training programs. So that is a long time I have been learning, relearning, exploring and creating ways to talk, teach and ‘be’ yoga. Honestly, I have failed a lot at the embodiment of yoga and practicing what I teach. I have been overwhelmed by my marriage, raising two kids and just keeping myself moving forward in life. I am slightly disappointed in myself in not embodying the yoga practices more in my ‘householder’ life. However, I am not overly disappointed in myself (and I give myself compassion) because I recognize that this ‘misalignment’ of what I do in one part of my life and what I do in another, is really common and part of the human experience, at least mine. I have not been great at ahimsa. I caused harm in my marriage, I have yelled at my spouse, kids and berated myself. Yet at the same time, I have also kept sane and had the lighthouse of my experiences guided by the tenants of yoga. Thus, I want to see if I can anchor myself to those tenets as I navigate these turbulent waters I see ahead in my journey. I want to arm myself with the best supplies, navigation tools, and friend supports I can muster.