When the shit hit the fan in my life (my way of describing when my marriage suddenly and inexplicably fell apart) I spent weeks in a daze. I remember the great sense of achievement I felt if I could just get food into the kids’ lunch boxes each morning. For weeks this was the greatest achievement of my day!
Gradually the fog lifted and I realised that there were to be months (and possibly years) of some uncertainty in my life. There were so many things I couldn’t control in the untangling of a long marriage and the particular circumstances of my separation.
So, I decided to focus on what I could control. I could control my thoughts. I could control my choices, my demeanour, my attitude. Not easy of course, some days I failed, but I was determined to be responsible for me, to be the power source in my life and the life of my kids.
Other than lunch boxes, I needed something else to focus on in the morning. I chose to set the course of my day as I got dressed each morning. Each day I made sure I put on:
What did I mean?
Strength – knowing that it’s tough, uncertain and frightening, but to keep going. To choose to be brave, to choose to fake being brave until the real thing kicked in! That is strength.
Clarity – I needed to make decisions. I chose to be clear. To see the real issues. The important stuff. To win the war not the battle. To see my values and stick to them, not float with fear or uncertainty. To focus on love not fear.
Peace – I reminded myself daily (and sometimes hourly) that peace is a choice. Truly – it is! Push aside the fear. Choose peace.
Joy – Joy and gratitude. I chose to look – to find it where I could. Not to be weighed down and fearful but to see love and joy and rejoice. To be grateful for the small joys in my life.
Colour – each day I chose to wear something fun and fabulous and colourful. Bright and uplifting.
I stuck a little reminder of these 5 things on my wardrobe door. Each day I reminded myself to put on all 5 things. Not easy, not a 100% success rate, but I could aim for it. I reminded myself each morning of who and what I wanted to be in the uncertain space. I could control my thoughts, my attitude, the person I was each day.
And now. 8 ½ years later this ‘poster’ (lovingly prepared by my then 12 year old) still sits on my wardrobe door. I regularly remind myself of what I put on each day, who I will be.
It’s tough. I don’t deny it. But I had a goal, a desire guided by my values. And each day since, I am so pleased I learned the lessons I learnt at that time. I rose again filled with strength, clarity, peace, joy and colour.
What will you put on today?
Jennifer Franklin is a family law solicitor at Franklin Family Law. She prides herself on offering legal advice with authenticity and compassion – and she’s a valued member of our expert panel helping women turn their divorce into the best thing that ever happened to them at Champagne Divorce Club.