Thomas Ferreira, here, your Carlsbad divorce mediator and attorney. I’ve been thinking back on my own journey as a divorced parent. Have you ever felt like your world was coming to an end because, either your spouse has left you and taken the children with him/her? Or, have you decided that you can’t tolerate the relationship any more and need a way out?
This year makes it 10 years since my ex left me. I had 2 infant children with her. I had invested all my hopes and dreams in that family. My law firm at the time had sent me from a comfortable gig in Long Beach to San Diego to start a new branch, and I had just gotten started when my world fell apart. How could I get through the process? I didn’t know a single thing about family law.
This story has a happy ending, though it hasn’t come without some struggle. But I figured it out, and so can you. And I’d like to share with you the secret of how I was able to do it. You don’t have to be a lawyer or hire one to do this. It’s something that you can do in Starbucks with your soy latte and your laptop computer.
I had to discover the overarching, big, gigantic Why for my life. Here is a brief synopsis of my journey in finding it.
Writing and Introspection
At my former law firm I commuted downtown on the Coaster, a commuter train running along a beautiful stretch of coastline between North San Diego County and downtown San Diego. I had a firm-issued laptop computer to work with while on the commute. I sat there on the train thinking, wow, I’m all alone with no friends in San Diego (I had moved here from Long Beach), with little by way of connections, with some family but few friends. And now my family was falling apart. How would I cope financially? How would I stay connected to the kids? Would I ever find love again?
So I decided to just start writing. I opened a new Microsoft Word document and titled it My Perfect Post-Divorce Life. In this life I was a hero to my two boys, who were 1 and 2 at the time. I was a hero because I served them, I loved them, and I did everything I could to be a great dad and raise great children.
In this story, I was a self-employed entrepreneur, making good money and being a great example to my boys. I had found a great wife and had a great new marriage. I was physically fit, enjoying my hobbies of surfing and playing music.
And, I started to get excited. I started thinking about what life could be, even after the divorce. It was then that I formed the intention of creating a coaching and teaching business to help others in my situation. It was then that I found my great, big, gigantic WHY.
How I Keep My Life in Perspective
In my home office is a 7-foot-wide whiteboard strip on the wall opposite my desk. I use it to do my daily planning and to literally keep in front of me what’s important in life. And there, in the lower left hand corner, in 4-inch-tall letters, is the great why that drives me. Here it is:
I am a thought leader, shepherding a great wife, training up children into fine young men, and loving others into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
I hear some of you saying, “but I’m not a Christian and I don’t even believe in God.” My reply to you is that the sentence above is about my big, gigantic why. Yours will be different, because you are not me. I set it forth here as a huge, gigantic and universe-sized why, because that’s what you need to drive you when the struggle gets tough. You’ll give up unless you have a driving, all-consuming purpose.
No-one can tell you what is your big, gigantic why. But I’ll tell you this: Financial security? Too small. 50-50 custody? Too small. Getting a fair settlement of your estate? Too small. Getting back at him/her for what he’s/she’s done to me? Way, way too small.
The whys that are big enough are phrases that you would have your kids say about you at your funeral, or what you would have written on your tombstone. Picture yourself on your dying day, reflecting on your life. What are you most proud of? What do you regret not doing? This is a crossroads, a time to forge your new post-divorce life. Don’t put this off.
What is it that makes life meaningful for you? Do you dream of raising great kids that share your values and are resilient enough not to give up when the world pushes back? Do you dream of serving others in a unique way? Can your own divorce story someday inspire someone to fight through what you’re going through now? Do you dream of making a fortune that will have you not just comfortable, but living an abundant life?
You’re getting a divorce. Now’s the time to think big. Get a banner and post your big “Why” where you can see it and remember it every day. Let it drive you and inspire you to do something great. If you do that, you’ll surely triumph over the courts, your ex or anything else that stands in your way.
I am and remain …
Very truly yours,