In the early stages of divorce it’s easy to get consumed by the legalities and even to believe that the final court order is “it,” the end goal. While you may be legally divorced however, there’s a whole lot more to ending your marriage, lots of logistics, lots of emotional processes, and each of them can be woven with emotions. Recognizing each of these as a ritual and even coming up with a few other rituals may help your healing from divorce.
My current guest, Lois Tarter found these rituals so helpful that she wrote a book, The Divorce Ritual. I asked her what were her favorite divorce rituals. Here’s Lois:
One of my particular favorites is one that’s called “I’ll fly, fly away,” that you blow up a whole bunch of balloons. You write down on a piece of paper one of two things. You can either put down all the things that you want for yourself in your new life once the divorce is final; all the things that you want for yourself in your new life. Put them in pieces of paper, stick them in balloons, blow them up and go somewhere and think about it, spend time thinking about it and then just let it go up into the universe.
The other side of that is to put down all of the things that you truly disliked about your old life and let them go. Fill them up, let them go and sort of like, “Out with the old and let’s have new wonderful things in my new life,” is one that I particularly like.
I like the dream board where you just get an old corkboard or maybe something where you can put stuff on and cut out pictures of things that you want for yourself in the future, in your new life.
I’m a firm believer in if you think about something that you really want and it stays in your subconscious that you tend to find it.
My dream board was about vacations. I love traveling, so that was always a biggie. An airplane, places I wanted to go in the world. The kinds of pictures of people that—not necessarily people that I wanted to be with, but people that were having fun, people that were enjoying going out to dinner, walking on the beach. Stuff that I wanted for my life. Being with my kids. Pictures of things like that.
I would love people to read my book, because I think it truly helps you get through a period that you need some help to get through. I think it gives you a little bit of comic relief, because it gets too heavy and dreary and you get so caught up in the situation that you need things to just make you feel better about the whole process and about yourself. I tried very hard to include those kinds of events that would do that.
The other thing that I really wanted was if people did read it and they had other ideas of activities to do to send it to me and I could publish it on my Your Divorce Day blog. Because I think the more that you can share these things, the more helpful it is to people that are going through this.
I would wish that they would get together once a week or once a month or whenever they possibly can, with friends that are going through divorce just to be with people that are going through divorce or have gone through it or thinking about it, people that will support you and help you get through some of the really rough periods.
It’s just so hard to do. Once I started to hand the book to a guy and he practically jumped. I looked and I said, “It’s not catching,” and that’s the impression that I had. People don’t talk about it. It’s not that you’re celebrating that you got divorced. It’s that you’re celebrating the new life that you’re moving into. That’s the most important thing, I think.
You could do lots of variations around the balloon ritual … you could substitute Chinese lanterns for the balloons (but watch for fire hazard), you could float leaves down a stream or at the beach, you could just release the messages from the top of a hill or mountain. For the messages you could include the gifts that you got from your marriage or you could include what you wish for your ex. You could use this as a forgiveness ritual. There are lots of ways you can make this a very personalized ritual and who says you can only do it once?
Lois’s suggestion of a dream board is also one that I recommend in my Visioning Your Life After Divorce Workbook. Having images of what you want for your life can be helpful in moments of stress or self-doubt. You can take deep breath, close your eyes, see your dream board and then adjust your thinking, your conversation, your actions to put you back on your path towards your vision.
What rituals are helping you through your divorce? Did you have a balloon ceremony or similar? How did it feel?
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