I teach the combined arts of authenticity and self-love, and one of the most profoundly transformative skills my students learn is the ability to rewrite rules. When you start loving yourself enough to script your own life, independent of the expectation of others, shift happens.
My most difficult and significant rule re-writing took place as my marriage was winding down. Greg is a warm, kind, smart, generous, and all-around wonderful man, but for reasons I won’t go into here, our marriage had stopped working for me. With the help of several years of marriage counseling and many personal-development and relationship courses, we were able to overcome old patterns and significantly strengthen our partnership with the exception of one vital component: I could never reawaken the romantic attraction I had once felt for Greg. I valued him as an important person in my life, but I could not access the deep-connection feelings of marriage-style love with him. It was a tremendous test of my authenticity and self-acceptance to finally admit this. I tried everything possible to turn it around, but the one thing I would not allow myself to do was to become inauthentic about it.
Once I knew without a doubt that I would never again feel romantically inclined toward this man, the only authentic course of action seemed to be divorce. But for a long time, divorce just didn’t feel right. Ironically, all the counseling and personal-development work we’d done together had brought us to an impasse. We’d reached such a level of compassion and understanding toward one another and become such close friends that it seemed crazy to make such a dramatic change to our lives. Even though the romantic and sexual aspects of our union were indisputably over, we both cherished day-to-day family life with our two fantastic tweenage children.
How is divorce supposed to look?
I had bought into society’s picture about how divorce is supposed to look, and I couldn’t bear the thought of dragging our children back and forth between our separate homes. I couldn’t bear the thought of dividing up all the things we were so happily sharing, or ending relationships with one another’s families. I couldn’t even bear the thought of not seeing Greg on a regular basis. I truly loved combining forces with him on parenting and household responsibilities, laughing with him, and socializing together with our mutual friends. I didn’t want to give those things up, but I didn’t want to give up the possibility of ever again having a deeply connected romantic partnership in my life either. It was a heartbreaking decision—one I spent hundreds of middle-of-the-night hours crying over.
I was teaching Juicy Joy, and I knew that staying in a friendship-only marriage was not something I could authentically embrace. I am a passionate person. I love Love. I love big, lusty, voracious, capital-L Love. It seemed bitterly unfair to me that I should have to sacrifice something so intrinsic to my character in order to keep my family together.
I finally realized during one of those middle-of-the-night sobfests that I was subscribing to a law about the definition of divorce that did not jibe with what I felt, authentically, in my core being, to make sense. It was a law put there by the society I belonged to, not one that resonated with my inner truth. Wasn’t I teaching people how to re-write those laws? I vowed, in that moment, that I would have it all.
I decided I would not dissolve our family simply because I needed to dissolve our marriage. I got very specific about rewriting the rules of divorce to suit my particular situation. Who said my divorce had to look like my friends’ divorces, or had to even remotely resemble any other divorce ever in the entire history of divorces?
Obviously, this dream required two people to share the vision, and Greg was initially reluctant to get on board with my creativity because he did not want the divorce at all. He was horrified by my decision. My self-love and dedication to my authenticity was put to the ultimate test. To be true to myself, I’d have to disappoint someone I love, and that was simply not in my deeply-ingrained people-pleaser’s repertoire. It was time to finally walk my self-love talk. I asked the Universe to guide and support me.
Remaining a family unit with the children
I devised a detailed plan that included keeping the kids’ lives as unchanged as possible by having them remain full-time residents of our home—with Greg and me alternating time there with them—and all of us continuing to spend ample fun time together as a foursome. I rewrote the definition of “family,” so that parents who were no longer married to one another could remain a family unit with their children.
My resolve opened the floodgates to divine assistance. Miracles occurred daily. And I did get to have it all. Our divorce was sad, of course, and we all allowed ourselves the full expression of our sadness about it. But ultimately it was a dream divorce—nothing more than a peaceful, gentle relabeling of our continuing friendship, which remains supportive and joyful and full of family-style love.
What I feared would be a terrible ordeal for my family turned out to be the best possible thing for all of us. Those years I spent trying to fit myself into a mold that was no longer authentic for me were years that I was unable to be my best self and offer my best to others. Only after reclaiming and honoring my authentic self was I able to once again be the exceptional mom, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher that I knew I could be. Until we’ve given ourselves what we most authentically need, we have nothing of value to give to anyone else. Without self-love, no other love is truly possible.
About the Author: Unconditional love expert Lisa McCourt is a dynamic speaker, seminar leader and author whose 34 books have sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide. Her new book, Juicy Joy – 7 Simple Steps to Your Glorious, Gutsy Self, teaches people to embrace “radical authenticity” to fully experience unbridled joy in life. Lisa lives in South Florida with her two children. For a free Juicy Joy audio program, visit http://www.LisaMcCourt.com