I recently went down the incredibly transformative and rewarding road of becoming certified as a coach with a niche in healing after divorce. The training is intense but necessary because to be a good coach you really have to perfect the art of coaching. It takes practice, knowledge and an ability to ask empowering and perfectly timed questions so that a client has shifts in the way they see a situation or problem.
Another requirement to being a great coach is to walk the talk and truly believe it. Thankfully, my life is abundant with dysfunction and cringey circumstances. Add to that a natural curiosity and insufferable tendency to overanalyze, and I am what one in the industry might consider highly “coachable.” So, what could provide better fodder than the topic of my own divorce during COVID?
The end of my marriage, my divorce, and its aftermath synced up perfectly with the timing of COVID. An oddly named virus gained increasing media attention at the exact point I was forced to admit my marriage had reached a point of no return. Having to vacate my marital home, discover my then-husband had moved on before my tossed-out body was cold, and have three children home from school all corresponded with a peak in COVID cases. And as vaccines rolled out across the country and a collective hope dawned, I began to see some light and amazing growth within myself on the other side of divorce and the pandemic. The pandemic and my divorce, my divorce and the pandemic, the two themes in my life ebbed and flowed in perfect synchrony.
As this tension built, I noticed a trend in language from well-meaning friends and family as they all offered some form of “How are you dealing with this on top of everything else in the world?” At the time, I soaked in the pity and allowed their sympathy to fuel my role as the victim in all this. As I reflect back, and put my coaching hat on, a much better question comes to mind, “What was the benefit of having this problem?” In other words, what was the benefit of getting divorced during COVID? I’m so glad you asked, allow me to count the ways…
1. A Virtual World
With legal proceedings underway, my calendar looked more like that of a top executive than a stay-at-home. On more than one occasion, I had to drop everything, including my three children, for a coveted spot that had just opened up on a judge or lawyer’s schedule. It was like the rest of my life had to be on standstill, or frankly never existed, as my legal team rushed to meet deadlines set by the opposing side.
My saving grace? All I had to do was log onto Zoom. An obscure video communication platform suddenly became my vehicle to the outside world. How have poor divorcing soles of bygone days dealt with these endless meetings, gasp, in-person? Sure, I may have been running a school for three kids on the other side of our apartment, but I would take that any day over having to get dressed, fight traffic and pay for parking. Our virtual world saved me hours of commuting time.
2. School Cliques (Or Lack Thereof)
My children go to a wholesome Catholic school that boasts a warm and welcoming community and lives up to its reputation in every way. Under normal circumstances, I would have found my tribe with such an active parent body, but COVID put an abrupt halt on all moms-night-out, school functions and collections of parents chatting at pick up.
Shocker, but chatting up a lovely PTA mom while going through a messy divorce sounded about as appealing as sticking pins in my cried-out eyes. As luck — or perhaps it was community spread — would have it, I could hibernate, ride out the height of my divorce and avoid pitying stares and awkward “I am so sorrys.” By the time some activity resumed, my desire to crawl under a rock had worn off and I was ready to face the world, head held high.
3. Investment in Myself
I will shamelessly admit that I got used to weekends my daughters spent with their dad. If you met my daughters, it wouldn’t take long to understand why. They came packaged as darling little girls but are basically three terrorists ready to take me on at any given moment. So, yes, my alone time is glorious and, frankly, well-deserved. Perhaps a fresh divorcee would feel compelled to hit up bars and restaurants, celebrating new found freedom in all her cougar glory.
But with most establishments closed or severely limited, I threw myself into personal development, studying and writing. Fortunate to work with some excellent coaches, I uncovered several unconscious behavior patterns and limiting beliefs, all while gaining clarity on the life and relationship I want moving forward. Time spent on myself was so transformative that by the time my daughters came home with tales of their father’s new girlfriend, I was able to remain composed and confident in my (exhausting) role as their mother.
4. No Contact
The best piece of advice when recovering from betrayal, heartbreak, or toxicity is to go “no-contact.” Well, how convenient for me that I was advised to go no-contact at a time when the rest of the world was, you guessed it, going no-contact. Limited contact, something I found very triggering at the time, more accurately describes the very least amount of interaction I was obligated to. Thankfully, my mask acted as a metaphorical muzzle during handoffs of children, a physical barrier to regrettable outbursts. Historically, I would describe my temper as mild, but let’s be honest, divorce brings out the worst in even the mildest mannered among us, and I am forever grateful to that flimsy piece of material for (mostly) keeping my dignity intact.
Imagine arriving at midlife only to watch your financial security bifurcate; one half to your ex’s coffers, the other steadily hemorrhaging to lawyers. For a real shock to the system, try having to feed, clothe and entertain three daughters of the aforementioned demeanor. This is where I really milked the pandemic for the endless excuses it provided.
“Mom, can we go to Target?”
“Oh, sweetie, it will be at capacity now, would you like to wait in a three-hour line?”
“Mom, can I do jazz again?”
“No, my angel, the dance studio is shut until further notice.”
“Mom, can we go to Chuck E. Cheese?
“Aw, shucks, honey, not unless you want COVID.”
These expenses are a drop in the bucket when considering the cost of raising three children but slowing our spending rate certainly provided a more favorable vantage point as I tackled my finances alone. My children weren’t thrilled, but they were long overdue for a lesson in delayed gratification.
There you have it, five perfectly valid and compelling reasons why a COVID divorce was the best kind of divorce. I feel lighter already; in fact, I feel downright grateful when I look at it that way. Next time I will have my answer ready.
“How did you deal with a divorce on top of everything else that went on in 2020?”
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”
This post first appeared on the author’s blog.