“Resistance is a powerful motivator precisely because it enables us to fulfill our longing to achieve our goals while letting us boldly recognise and name the obstacles to those achievements”
Derrick A Bell.
It is two and a half years since my husband left me and I am still stuck in a transition world between my old and new life. Resistance has been a factor with obstacles that have either kept me stuck in my old world or sprung up to hinder my progress.
These are the steps I am taking to overcome resistance:
(i) Clarify my motivation for change.
(ii) Write down my resistance voices.
(iii) List clear obstacles to progress.
This is a summary of my voices and practical considerations.
(iv) Prepare a comeback to each level of resistance.
(v) Seek out supporters.
(vi) Monitor progress.
(vii) Keep going
This is the list I came up with as per (i) to (iii) above and my comeback for each:
1. No motivation to change.
Clearly change motivation has been difficult as change was thrust upon me.
2. Clinging to my old life.
In my old life I coped well in a crisis. I would focus my energy on recovery, integrate whatever change was required into my life and quickly bounce back to normal. The crisis of my divorce was different. My normal was gone. I craved normality. I coped by blocking out the reality of my changed situation by clinging on to as many remnants of my old life as I possibly could. In particular, I deliberately deferred some major decisions that would require major changes to my life.
This deferral was necessary to allow me time and space to process the emotional impacts of what had happened. In this time and space I grieved the ending of my marriage.
3. Fear of the unknown. I survived my grief period and in time learned to live with the level of discomfort that was now my new normal. Living with discomfort became easier than facing the unknown. Those deferred decisions remained in the “to be done later” box.
One day my fear of living in continued discomfort outweighed my fear of change. I had an epiphany. In a single moment of time I decided that I wanted to start a brand new life. This in itself overcame my first resistance. I had regained control over my choices and hence my motivation to change. My motivation is now simple. I want to make my own new life.
4. Fear of identity loss. My decision to change plunged me into an even deeper mourning period as I faced the reality of what the changes meant. I would need to strip away the rest of my identity by giving up my home, my work and my community.
I still have my inner core of my values and beliefs. That is my real identity. I can take that with me, wherever I go, whatever I do.
5. Fear of not being strong enough. “I can’t do it” is a loud voice together with.voices that give me reasons for not doing things, for putting things off, or for why I am struggling.
Yes you can. It will take courage, perseverance, and belief in yourself but you can do it
6. Legal and financial constraints Moving from my home, changing my avenue of work, and moving away from the community are all major steps, which will require careful financial consideration after I am legally able to begin those changes.
This is where I am up to. I am leaning on professional advisors to assist me through.
7. Practical considerations All these changes do and will continue to require a lot of physical, emotional and mental stamina yet I am tired, so tired.
Then rest if you must, but do not quit.
Writing this post has proved two things.
Firstly; the crisis of divorce is different from any other crisis I have faced before as it is not simply a change within my life, it is a change to a new me. I cannot bounce back. I must bounce forward.
Secondly; I am not stuck. I am through five of seven very difficult steps.
I continue to work on a clear vision for a new me and a new life and progress towards that.
“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Peter M Senge
So well stated, and I have every bit of confidence in you to use this resistance to grow and to break through to the next part of your journey, Elizabeth!
Yes, I am on my way. Thanks
Yes, you are, so, just keep doing what you are doing!
Again, I am so blown away about how clearly you can articulate what you are going through and the process of how you’re doing it!
I have been in a foggy space for a few months and things are starting to clear again. These recent posts are writing about the things that helped clear that head-space for me.
Thanks for your kindness..
Life is journey and for myself I am realizing that some things just need to ferment for awhile instead of being a quick fix. I’m learning to go with the flow of the journey and wait for the right timing when the solutions seem to almost magically reveal themselves.
That is excellent advice.
Elizabeth, these are excellent suggestions for a person who right now is searching for the path of least resistance! Well done!
Yes. Sometimes the more difficult path is the right path. That was the case for me and facing that fact was the first and most important step.
thanks for your comment
I love lists. And I have to say blogging and making my lists public was a huge help for me through my divorce and the first year after. It sounds like you are making great progress and I can’t wait for you to get through all 7 of them! When will your divorce be final, or is it already?
In Australia divorce is separate from a property settlement. My divorce was finalized last year. The property settlement is not yet final but hopefully will be within the new few months. Thanks for asking and your comment. I agree that lists are a life-saver through the difficult bits.
I didn’t realize that! I really hope that it get finalized soon. It is so very hard to move forward before everything is completely settled.
Such is the ‘joy’ of the ending of a long marriage.
My turn will come and I am looking forward to it (ie no longer fearing the future)
I am so full of admiration for the wonderful way you analyse and articulate your situation. I love that phrase: I can’t bounce back so i have to bounce forward.” YES! Fantastic! Things never work out exactly as we plan them, but that doesn’t mean we should stop planning. You have come a tremendously long way in 2 1/2 years Elizabeh – well done. I wonder – does your ex know about this blog?
I am buoyed by your supportive words. Thanks for your encouragement. No I do not think my ex knows about this blog. I write under a pseudonym not that it would take much to work out it was me if he ever found it. I think that knowing I am ‘anonymous’ allows me to be more authentic and freely express myself. I am less guarded. In fact I am quite enjoying that aspect of living by myself – I don;t have to think of what he will think.
I appreciate the way you are taking each step with such insight and presence. You are an inspiration Elizabeth for so many.
Your summary thoughts are spot on. This is more than a crisis. This is an inner transformation and a new way of being in the world.
… and you are definitely not stuck even although you may like you are sometimes!
You are correct in this being a transformation, rather than a ‘simple’ recovery from a crisis. Thanks for your encouragement of my progress.
This was very realistic in how we all tend to resist change. You have had some challenges, like you mentioned, you may have had some setbacks, but I have seen immense growth and change in the time I have been reading your blog! Elizabeth, you are doing a great job, making lists, making choices and fighting your resistances! Keep up the good work, my friend! Smiles, Robin
Thanks. I really appreciate your encouragement of me. I enjoy your blog too. I don’t get to read every one as I don’t blog everyday. However it is great to know your cheery posts are there.
Hi Elizabeth, I was reading through the comments and noticed you wrote about enjoying the part of your new life where you are “quite enjoying that aspect of living by myself – I don’t have to think of what he will think.” Hold onto that! Before you know it you will discover other aspects that you will ultimately enjoy. All a part of your “bouncing forward.”
Thanks. This comment has been a great comfort to me. Yes, I will hang on to that.
Thanks for being there for me. xo
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