During a divorce, you must have a team. The team must have solid, trusted, experienced veterans. Whether you are about to enter divorce proceedings, are in the midst of a divorce, or are emerging from a divorce, you must have a lineup of people to support, guide and advise you in the process. Do not do the lone wolf, strong, silent, “man up” mode. It can literally kill you or others.
The song lyrics: “Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage” (Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet on Butterflly Wings) haunted me at one time. That was how I often felt during my divorce. Full of rage. Like a rat in a cage. I was angry and I often turned the rage and pain both inward and outward. Turning it inward led to depression. Turning it outward alienated people. See media stories for guys who take the next step and take their own life or others.
A divorce can be like a hurricane. It blows through all parts of your life – your emotional, mental, legal, financial, and relational centers. With the right players on your roster, you can hold your center and not lose your bearings. Without a team, you risk being cast adrift, blown off course and perhaps headed for a shipwreck on the rocks.
The following is the team lineup that I suggest:
First, you need a divorce lawyer. You need someone who concentrates in “divorce” or “family law.” You need someone who actually litigates cases in court. Do not get someone who dabbles in divorce law or someone who will “handle” your case but will not go to hearing or trial. The reason for getting a divorce lawyer is so you have competent, assertive legal representation that can protect your rights. Trust me or not on this. But as a divorced lawyer, I speak from some knowledge, experience and observation. This is advice, not a plug for my services because I happily do not handle such cases.
I am not advocating that you engage in a hard ball, scorched earth, take no prisoners approach.
In fact, I strongly support a cordial negotiated disssolution. You can keep your lawyer in your backpocket when and if needed. If you do not have such a weapon so to speak, you run the tremendous risk of getting yourself wiped out if your spouse has some hard core mouthpiece representing her.
Second, you need an accountant. Property division, alimony and child support allocations can have tax implications. You have enough to deal with in navigating the divorce, you do not need to add the IRS to the mix.
Third, you need some type of counselor, pastor or therapist. You need to share your insides with a trained pro. Even if just one time. Your friends and family can only take and process so much of your angst. Maybe you need just one visit. You may learn that you have stuff inside you of which you were unaware. There are plenty of caring, empathetic, counselors out there. Find one.
Fourth, you need a friend or friends for unconditional love. Go to those who are wise, caring and confidential. You need a place to dump without being judged or criticized. You need the warmth of a “friend” who loves and appreciates you for who you are.
Fifth, you need a divorce support group. Not a complaint festival, but people looking to keep their heads and hearts up. A group with some operating credo with ethics and rules and that has a mission of bringing people onward and not stuck in the past. Not a hook up or party group. Having fun is fine. But you need a place where you do not feel like an alien. And going through a divorce with others can help you feel more “normal.”
With a solid lineup of teammates, you will survive your divorce. You will learn about yourself and perhaps eventually thrive. Without people on your team, the divorce process could cause you all sorts of unneccesary beatings and pain. Much of the pain will be self-inflicted. Much of the pain and agony avoidable if you gather wise and caring counsel. And with a caring circle you may find growth and hope.