The Divorce Party, not for Pity

I read an interesting article on written by Quentin Fottrell entitled, “ Why January is a popular month to file for divorce”. Apparently divorce filings rise by one third. So, does this mean that in the spring the love struck brides-to-be are going to be competing for event space with not only other brides, but divorcees as well? Perhaps. Divorce parties are catching on and they can be brilliant, but timing is everything.

I love the idea of a divorce party. Chances are, post divorce, you have lost a significant amount of income, have spent a great deal on legal fees and moving, and more than likely one or both of you have lost at least half of the things you used to have. You might want to have a divorce party because you need things, simple things, like a wooden spoon, sheets, or towels. You may not need things and just have a divorce party as symbol of your transition, a celebration of things to come.   This is where the timing is so important.

Anyone who has been through a divorce or is going through a divorce knows how difficult it is. Even if you are the one who wanted the divorce, the rollercoaster of emotions is not at all pleasant.

So there I was, over a decade ago. I did everything just like I was “suppose” to. I went to college then graduate school. I got a great job, stayed at the same hospital for ten years and worked my way up through the ranks. I got married and was an active member in my community. Then, poof, I got divorced, at the ripe old age of 34. It was hard, I felt like I had a big scarlet letter across my chest and a sign reading major failure on my back. I received all kinds of advice from well-meaning individuals, some good, some bad, and some wildly inappropriate. So I did what any sane rational person would do, I left my stable job, I left my friends and family, moved across the country to Los Angeles, and started a business in a large city where I knew about 4 people, including myself. Why did I do that? Because, even though I wanted a divorce, I had divorce brain.

Divorce brain does not go away quickly, it takes time. My general rule of thumb is 2 years. Now, stop yelling at me! I know that may sound like a long time. (Everyone I say that to gets angry with me, at first). It may take some people longer. It may take some people less time. However, when you think about everything you go through or are going through, I am merely suggesting that perhaps you want to wait a bit on making any other life changing decisions.

When you get divorced you experience all of the same emotions every human experiences, shame, guilt, anger, sadness, joy; only you experience these emotions much more intensely and cycle through them at rapid speed. Then for fun, let’s throw in lawyers, court, custody issues, time away from your children, finances, moving, splitting of assets, etc. The list is so long it makes me anxious just writing about it. If you have children you have to work through countless issues, including, seeing your ex.

We then have to learn things. Learn how to be by yourself again. Learn how to and choose to let go of the anger and resentment you may feel towards your ex. Learn how to date, (which is like having a second job). Point being, you will not be thinking clearly, for a while.

Eventually the resentment and anger will subside, you will feel it, but less intensely and you will let go of it more quickly. You will learn, and dare I say, embrace, spending your third Saturday night in a row at home, alone. You will learn to date, you will experience new things, you may even pick up a new hobby or two. You will learn how great you are regardless of a divorce. Then, and only then, when your thinking becomes more rational and less emotional, and you do not want any pity, that is a perfect time have a divorce party!

Sarah Stewart, MSW, CPC

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