The poet Christina Rossetti describes January as “cold and desolate.” Other images that come to mind are of snow, darkness and loneliness.
But the calm of January, after the frenzy of the holidays, can also provide a space where energy and hope can be garnered to move toward the light, toward new possibilities for the future.
A client whom I’ll call Malcolm had such a vision. He had been in an emotionally abusive marriage for many years which had dampened his natural optimism and crushed his positive sense of self. Although he first called me in December, he was not ready to proceed at that time. But when he called again in early January, he told me that the arrival of the new year created in him a sense of possibility for a new beginning. He felt he now had the strength and energy to begin to make plans for a better life.
Camille (not her real name) had wanted very much to have one more happy Christmas with her children and extended family before initiating a discussion about divorce with her husband. With the tree taken down, the decorations put away, and the children back in school, she felt ready to address the problems in her marriage and to begin to focus on the future. In addition, the extensive time she had spent with her husband during the holiday season helped her clarify her own thinking about the personal cost to her of maintaining a façade of “the happy couple” for their family and friends.
If you see similarities between your own situation and those of Malcolm and Camille, what can you do? Here are four steps you can take.
- Make a commitment to yourself and your future. Don’t let the space and calm of January slip away without solidifying your conviction that now is the time to harness your energy and personal resources to improve your situation.
- Remember that getting divorced is a process. Patience is critical. You will obtain the best result for yourself and others you care about if you plan methodically and then implement your plan in a measured way.
- Identify an experienced divorce attorney who will work closely with you to help you clarify your goals, equip yourself with the necessary knowledge, and develop a course of action. Whether you live in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia, there are many competent divorce attorneys in your jurisdiction who have a philosophy and approach which are a good fit with how you want to conduct yourself in your divorce.
- Have confidence that there is a path forward for you. Others have done it; you’ll be able to do it also. Have faith that, with patience and the right assistance, you will look back one day and say “That was hard, but I am so glad to be in a better place.”