“Perfection is not for human beings.” ~ from How to Be Your Own Best Friend by Newman & Berkowitz
A few days ago, I had dinner with a R.A.D.I.C.A.L. sister to celebrate our birthday. At the end of the wonderful meal, we stood in the parking lot and began laughing at some of the ridiculous things we had done during our journey. I mean tears, holding our sides laughing. I, of course, had to fess up about peering through the bushes at 2:00 in the morning to see if her car was at my husband’s apartment. I remember thinking, Suzy, “What in the world are you doing?! This is crazy!” But in the moment, I had to know if she was still showing up at his doorstep every night.
Setting “superhuman” standards for ourselves during a divorce is a kind of self-flagellation. Especially as Christian women, we think we should be doing better. The only people who seem to skate through this ordeal without a hitch is often our wasband who appears oblivious to the damage he is leaving in his wake everywhere, and who is so enamored with his new life that he doesn’t seem to care.
But for most of us, we do care. We care more than we can say about what this is doing to people we love. Our children. Our parents. Our friends. Our family. Us. And because we care so much we sometimes act in ways that are not good for us or the people around us. We do dumb things. We say ridiculous things. We act in ways that are destructive. And then we feel guilty. We spiral down into the “I’m a failure” mode that causes more guilt and more bad behavior.
Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop thinking that if you were a better person, first of all this wouldn’t have happened and secondly that you would be handling it better and maybe thirdly that if you were better, you could turn this situation around. Give that up. He is a grown person making the choices he wants. You can’t change that. But you can stop blaming yourself for not being able to fix him and fix everything for everyone. Fix yourself. Accept yourself. Accept your messy, sometimes weak, sometimes ridiculous humanness, and keep trying to make better decisions day by day. Realize that this midlife divorce card you’ve been dealt is very, very ugly, and just do the best you can with it every day. Pray. Get help. Get the resources you need. Connect with others who are going through it. Read the Psalms. David, who was a “man after God’s own heart” was far from perfect. Read below what he, in a moment of fury, wanted to happen to his enemies. Don’t do anything you’ll have to go to jail for, but take heart and quit trying to be so perfect.
“Arise O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.” Psalm 3:7 (NIV)