Whether you’re the Leavor or the Leavee you’ll go through a stage of denial. Your disbelief in the end of your marriage is understandable. After all, how could something that, in the beginning, was marked by such ceremony and endowed with such hope be reduced to such bitterness and hostility? How could it be true that your family will be ruptured?

Since Leavors have the benefit of being able to work through this stage long before their mates, this is a prime example of two people being at different stages in the “loss process” while going through the same divorce.

Ultimately, as the Leavor, once you’ve worked through your denial, you’ll file for divorce. But you shouldn’t be surprised if after the initial fervor, your aplomb is shattered. The first personal failure you experience — and, baby, it’s only a matter of time — you will nosedive into self-recriminations and self-doubt.

For those who have initiated the divorce, watching a partner’s agony when he cannot seem to accept the decision is difficult. But you cannot leave a person and protect him from the problem — you can’t be both problem and protector, it’s against the rules. But the very least you owe your STBE (soon-to-be-ex) is to be honest and forthright and direct.

Tell her what went wrong and why you’re leaving. Be as clear and concise as you can. Many Leavees never get that and are haunted by what went wrong with the rest of their lives. She will be sad. She will be hurt. She may respond defensively, with anger. Give her some time to catch up to you. If she never gets closure, it will make it more difficult for her to move on.

If you’re the Leavee, you will be further behind your already disengaged partner and you won’t accept that something’s gone wrong.

Denial often also brings with it a sense of being overwhelmed. So many things to do; so many changes. How will you cope? The answer is, “One problem at a time.” Of course, with so many changes to initiate or respond to, the first step will be to choose those problems that are the most important. Yes, I’m telling you to make a list and prioritize it.

According to Buddhism, the ability to know your own thoughts, to be aware at all times of what you are thinking, is one of the roads to enlightenment.

For years I’ve practiced this. No, I’m not officially Buddhist, but I so believe in this technique because I know it has changed my life. Before when worry, stress, those dreadful thoughts that seem to just seep into my mind would take over, dampening my spirits, making me less of who I really was, I had no way to fight back.

Once I learned to watch my thoughts, to be aware of where my mind was taking me, I learned to redirect it so that it went where I wanted to go. Some psychologists refer to this as “thought stoppage”. They suggest wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it each time you begin to worry. But I don’t hold with that. I don’t see the point of adding more pain to your already aching self.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide what will work best. Thought watching doesn’t come naturally or easily. It takes practice. (But it also doesn’t hurt.) In a relatively short time you’ll begin to derive the benefits of being in control of your mind, as opposed to letting your mind take you down every black alley in Worst Case Town.

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