A woman stands before a display of small boxes in a store aisle, staring at a familiar face.
A female shopper approaches. “Excuse me,” she says, pointing to a box. “Is that you?”
“It used to be,” the woman confesses, then quickly walks away.
I’ve been watching the Netflix Original Series, Grace and Frankie. The show stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as seventy-year-olds forced to start over after their husbands left them for each other. There are many reasons I like the show (perhaps I’ll write more about it another time), but for now I want to focus on an issue both women faced in the first episode: they are no longer who they used to be.
Each character arrives at the realization of her rebirth and processes it a bit differently. But regardless of her attitude and actions, neither woman can deny the crumbled remains of her old identity. It happens to all of us.
It doesn’t always happen through divorce. The fact is, we’re constantly evolving. The person you are now isn’t the messy-haired person who opened his/her bleary eyes in your (or someone else’s?) bed this morning. Your hair is styled now. You’ve had new experiences. You know more. Maybe you own more shoes at the present moment, or have less food in your fridge. In any case, you’re different. We’re always changing.
Now, back to divorce: sometimes it’s hard to realize how much we’ve changed. Sometimes we get stuck in the narrative that we’re a broken version of the person we used to be. Wrong. That person is gone. The realization might come as a terrifying relief.
Here’s an exercise: Sit down with a pen and paper (or your computer), and write down the things you have, the things you know and the things you do since your partnership ended. Consider the places you’ve been, people you’ve met, books you’ve read, classes you’ve taken and music you listen to… Think about the car you drive, the food you’ve tried, the clothes you’re wearing, the chair you’re sitting in and the people you know… Regardless of the length of your separation, your list will show you another you…. A New You.
Do you see it? Do you feel it? What do you think?
…And, who do you want to become next?