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New Year Resolutions

New Year Resolutions
Written by
Linda Franklin

I don't normally make resolutions because I know they'll be broken a week later and who wants to start the year feeling a failure?

But this one I will. I think it's a pretty good one for divorced people in particular and it's: Don't dwell on what you haven't got/aren't/have or haven't done (that was negative): think about what you have got/are/have done or didn't do (that was positive). And congratulate yourself for that and celebrate it.

It's very common to feel you've failed somehow after a divorce; or that you're 'less than' others or who/what you were before; or that life and your status will somehow be compromised henceforth. But it needn't be like that at all. If you can re-frame how you see things then a completely different viewpoint comes into view.

Of course, if you have something to genuinely feel guilty or sorry about and need to make amends, it is within your gift to do so. If you've hurt someone unnecessarily, apologise. If you've acted badly, make amends. Wipe the slate clean as much as you can - and begin afresh. If a divorce has brought up old familiar feelings - if there's a lot of 'resonance' for you about certain aspects of what's going on - it might be an indication there's 'unfinished business' to deal with. I look at this in depth in my book How to Be Happy After Divorce available on my website www.lindafranklin.co.uk and found the divorce in the end a great tool to deal with old issues and get on with my personal growth - and perhaps achieve equanimity and even a bit of wisdom.

Which is what it's all about. To divorce 'successfully' you don't have to remarry as soon as possible, or knock yourself out having a wild time showing you've still 'got it' or rebuilding a mega career - or anything like that. You just have to work out what YOU want. What are your priorities? That's not what your ex wants, or his or her current squeeze wants, or your ex mother in law, or what your friends want for you, or what your mum, dad and siblings want or would have wanted for you. It's what you want and think important.

If putting the children first is top of your list: that's what you want. If starting your own business is so you can work around other commitments: that's what you want. If you are drawn to the idea of study, or retraining or taking some time off and get over all that's happened - then that's what you want.

How to do it? Forget all those other notions about what 'success' looks like. They're based on the old, patriarchal views and are mostly to do with consumerism. Free yourself from money worries and the endless 'wanting' that keeps everyone dissatisfied. Downsize, don't buy anything but necessities for a year or more, don't eat out unless it's a real treat, ask if you really need a holiday - or would turning off the phone and email and having days out do it? Don't think you have to have certain things: my TV broke down and for a year we went without one: my reading went up drastically! I dumped the car and got a bike. Don't bother with the nonsense of keeping up appearances for the outside world. No-one worth bothering with judges you for your lifestyle. I stopped going out at night - drinks and dinners are expensive - and meet friends in the day for coffee: I lost one friend - the one who expected me to subsidise his drinking...

My New Year Resolution is to care about how I feel on the inside. If I know I've done the right thing - even done my duty - that's all that matters. I dedicated myself to my sons, who both have specific learning difficulties. The expense of that and the loss of earnings cost me my pension. Yet I don't regret it. Life might be a bit tougher than it otherwise would, but I couldn't have ever forgiven myself if I hadn't done all I could for them. Likewise I can compare myself with others in my profession I was once on a par with - do I regret not having their glittering careers? The answer is no: I had a great time with my sons - and you can't have everything. A lot of my mates who seem to 'have it all' also have kids in therapy.

So - from 2010 on - I'm going to put my energy into thinking about the positives of what I have got and what I have done - and put no energy at all into what I haven't got and haven't done. And I will take my estimation of how I'm doing from myself - and no-one else.

(c) copyright Linda Franklin 2010.

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