Dear Dr. Norquist:
My husband and I recently divorced after 7 years together. I’m devastated. I have visions of growing old together, with our kids and grandchildren living nearby. I especially pictured the family holidays together. Now the holidays just remind me of how my life isn’t what it’s supposed to be. I never thought my life would turn out this way. My husband just didn’t want to be married anymore. We didn’t even get to the having the kids part of life. No one in my family has ever gotten divorced before. At least I don’t live in my small Pennsylvania hometown, where everyone I met would know I’m recently divorced. I don’t know how to go on anymore. This isn’t what was supposed to happen. I’m not suicidal or anything. I just don’t know what to do. I can’t believe this is happening to me.
Dr. Norquist responds:
It sounds like you had the script of how your life would be all written and then one of the major characters opted out. This leaves you at a loss, no longer knowing how to move forward with your life. Each of us has a need to make sense of our lives. This entails developing an inner schema or script that helps us to make sense of who we are and what we are doing here. It’s a storyline of sorts that we are following, self-created from our past experiences, our cultural heritage and our own interpretations and inner drives. When there is an unanticipated disruption in the story we have created, a crisis unfolds.
Your story as initially created doesn’t work without the presence of your husband. Although this is a very trying and difficult life crisis to endure, it is also a period in your life that allows for great growth and transformation. Our life scripts are often created semi-unconsciously, when we are quite naïve and inexperienced. This life crisis forces you to re-evaluate who you are currently and to update your storyline regarding what you would like to create with your life. It’s important that you recognize that you do not have to be a victim here. You have the power to rewrite your script. Your experiences will flow from the script that you create. Allow yourself time to recover and bit by bit start to notice who you are now and what you are drawn to. You just may look back on this time in your life as one of the significant crossroads you encountered – one that led you to create a much more satisfying, empowered life for yourself.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2012 Chaitanya Counseling Services