By Audrey Cade
My kids love to play board games on Sunday afternoons. We try to strike a balance between the role-playing games my son enjoys with the classics that my daughter likes, and somehow the Game of Life often falls into the rotation. On one of our recent rounds playing Life, I was struck by how much my own life has, at times, mirrored the events acted out from one spin to another!
While I’ve never had the fortune of winning the Nobel Peace Prize or a huge fortune in the lottery, I can identify with the plight of the little pink and blue pegs making their way around the winding path of a lifetime and how one’s fortune can change from one turn to the next.
Take my divorce, for example. I once had the family sedan complete with a blue peg for a husband and two pegs representing our children; but, with one unlucky spin, we were divorced, and I found myself, in many ways, pushed back to the very first square of my life. Thankfully, I still had my trusty car and two children, but everything else about my life was stripped back down to the basics, and I found myself starting over after divorce!
In the moments when the realization of how much has been lost hits, it’s quite difficult to feel cheerful or optimistic about taking a big step down in household income, relationship status, personal property, and everything else that has been worked so hard for! If you’re like me, you expected to reach certain ages and to have achieved significant milestones: education, marriage, a home, children, building wealth, retirement.
Instead, I found myself at an age when I should have been enjoying my family, home, and the fruits of my labor only to be experiencing the income and social status of a student again! Where was my pretty house with white picket fence, my healthy stock portfolio, and charming and devoted husband?
The despair of such an event can be hard to see past, so I chose, instead, to see the excitement and potential of square one! Focusing on the negative was simply too frightening and overwhelming, and what would that accomplish?
Every spin of the wheel and square that I advanced was proof of the progress I made! Yes, there were setbacks! I may have lost a turn or two, or even gone back a few steps to pay the piper, but every choice made was mine. Every bit of effort expelled added up to my increased experience, wisdom, confidence, and growth as a person!
So what that I wasn’t on the same schedule as everyone else or was repeating aspects of my life? This time I was doing it for me, and I was getting it right!
What should you do if you find yourself back on square one, starting over after divorce?
Don’t measure your success by everyone else’s! No two lives are the same. Each person’s priorities, experiences, and obstacles are unique, so we need to only focus on the steps forward that we make and in the areas that matter the most!
Don’t sweat the setbacks. A time out or going a few steps back is an opportunity to learn from mistakes and do it better the next time. Sometimes, a moment on pause is just what we need to collect our thoughts, make a game plan, and gather our strength for the next turn!
Starting over after divorce is a golden opportunity. Instead of looking at the end of a marriage as the end, consider it a new beginning! How many people can say they get a chance to go back to correct their mistakes, follow dreams they missed the first time around, or have the benefit of knowing what can go wrong to help steer their choices next time? Instead of sulking through a reset, imagine the possibilities!
Define what it means to you to win. In a board game, getting to the finish line first or with the most money might make you a winner, but is that what’s most important to you in actual life? Priorities are different for each person. Is the most possible time with family, a world vacation, or financial stability what makes you feel like a winner? Again, it’s not about what other players think matters most, it’s all about what brings you joy and personal fulfillment!
A trip back to square one can take your breath away and force you to really think about life and what matters most. We can either allow it to frighten us into paralysis, or we can choose to see the potential wrapped in mysterious packaging.
Will a do over bring a new direction in career, relationships, the way we live, or what matters most to us? Only time will reveal the answer to those questions, so I advise you to hold on tight to the steering wheel of life, and be an active participant in every decision and experience that comes along!
Audrey Cade is the author of Divorce Matters: help for hurting hearts and why divorce is sometimes the best decision (on Amazon) and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is an experienced “divorce warrior” in the areas of co-parenting, step parenting, parental alienation, and re-marriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids. Audrey’s professional experience is as a case manager social worker with the developmentally disabled, families with young children, and homeless populations. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Human Service & Management, and a Master’s in Psychology. She enjoys family outings, a variety of arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, and writing. She is a featured blogger for Divorced Moms, has work regularly appearing on Divorce Force, and articles appearing in Step Mom Magazine, The Good Men Project, and others.