I am a staunchly private person but there’s something very public about going through a divorce, which has left me at least, more prepared than ever to expose my vulnerability. I think of it very much in the same way as gynaecological examinations during pregnancy and labour; your most intimate parts are laid bare for everyone to look at, and you no longer feel embarrassed by it. You have elevated yourself to a whole new level of vulnerability, with no shame.
Actually, that’s not entirely correct. The shame of divorce is intense at the beginning, almost paralysing in fact. I didn’t tell anyone, except my sister, for the first 3 months. How insane is that?!
Yet the painful truth about a divorce or any other significant life event is the surfacing of all your deeply held beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviours, laid bare to the spotlight for examination. For me, it was my need to feel and appear totally in control of everything and stoically coping with whatever life threw at me. Something which I know comes from experiencing the loss of my father at a young age. Whilst this might have helped me cope at the time of his death it isn’t something which serves me now. I’ve had my self-sabotaging behaviour described most eloquently using the analogy of a duck, who appears on the surface to be gliding effortlessly through the water, and yet underneath the surface their legs are going ten to the dozen.
Being afraid to bare your true self, for fear you may appear incapable leaves you operating behind a fragile facade, which is likely to come crumbling down around you at any point. It’s hard work being perfectly capable and totally in control all the time. I’ve learnt the hard way to accept my own vulnerability and be more open when things have become too much. There’s truly no shame in people who love you seeing you at your most frail, open, raw, and exposed. They’ll love you all the more for it.
I honestly believe half the battle is being able to identify and accept your own self-sabotaging behaviours for what they are; learnt patterns of behaviour which have protected and served you in the past, but are no longer healthy for you. Being vigilant and kind to yourself when you notice yourself caught up in autopilot is the next step. You’re not going to change deeply rooted patterns of behaviour overnight.
I see these patterns of self-sabotaging behaviours each and every day in my work. It’s something I think we as mothers have cornered the market on! Yet it really doesn’t have to be this way. Our children will cope just as well in life, more so I would argue, if they saw the more vulnerable, as well as the organized women we are. We owe it to ourselves, first and foremost, to put an end to perfection and move ourselves towards a more conscious way of parenting; one where we acknowledge and accept ourselves for who we really are; amazing women in our own right.