Keynote speaker Ian Percy uttered these words as a way to explain that what he was about to say would be disturbing to some of us in the audience. In fact, he said, some of us would not like what he said at all. But his purpose was to shake up our thinking a bit. And he did.
I, of course, saw this comment as relating to dating. “Disruption” is when we go through a divorce or intense breakup. Our routine is disrupted. Our thinking is disrupted. Our self-definition is disrupted. Instead of being wife/girlfriend/mate/life partner we are now “single,” “unattached,” “divorced” or even “widowed.”
One of the biggest challenges for me immediately after my ex said he was leaving was facing the loss of my roles. I would not — at least in the immediate future — be wife, lover, partner. What would I be to his son — his ex-step mother? How about to his newborn daughter — ex-step-grandmother? Her grandfather’s former wife? I grieved for the part of my identity that was changed.
After we mourn the loss, however, that disruption can cause discovery — self-discovery. Reassessing who we are and what we want. Discovering anew what kind of person we are now. Redefining ourselves. And often reinventing ourselves in the process.
In the case of my titles, my step-son assured me I would always be a part of his family, and he wanted his daughter to know me. He invited me to continue to stay connected. It brought us closer.
So instead of cursing disruptions in your life, look at them as a time to rediscover who you are now and what makes you happy now, instead of who you were when you began your relationship.
When I recovered from my marriage’s dissolution, I found freedom and excitement in reexamining what I wanted in my life and in my next relationship. I did not want the same things as the 28-year-old who entered the relationship with my ex. I got to reinvent myself as the single woman I wanted to be.
What discoveries about yourself have disruptions in your relationships created for you?
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