Celebrating Failure – or moving on?
One of my exhibitors, Scott Collier, is a wedding photographer, and he loves weddings. Despite having been divorced himself, he has photographed hundreds of happy couples cutting the wedding cake, so I thought it would be fun to email him a photo of a divorce cake that was doing the rounds on the internet.
His reaction shocked me, and then embarrassed me for not having seen the darker side of these grotesque paradys of wedding bliss in the form of a bride shooting her groom on a cake that celebrates the failure of a marriage.
Scott rightly pointed out that if you made a cake with the groom shooting the wife, the cakes might not create such mirth. And the very idea that a confectionary could be used to enforce a culture of bitterness and even hatred, was one to be wary of.
There’s a difference between ‘moving on’ and ‘starting over’. It is a significant difference. Moving on can be done by blocking out the past – which means also blocking out all the good parts too. That is why it’s so hard for people to think of something ‘nice to say’ about their Ex even though they were nice enough once to live with and even reproduce with.
We encourage people to ‘move on’, but even if they drag behind them a train of reproaches, bitter memories, and embarrassement at having ever ‘loved’ someone who turned out to be a complete monster, we seem to believe as a society that this is perfectly ‘normal’ and acceptable.
When we hear positive stories about divorced couples who genuinely seem to be respectful of each other and co-parent effectively despite the rigours of going through a divorce process, this is viewed as somehow strange, unusual and even (and I have had this levelled at me often) “a bit weird”.
When I tried a ‘letting go’ ceremony, the hardest part was having to remember and share the good things about the relationship. It was painful! But you have to see all of a relationship in order to appreciate what was good as well as what was rubbish, and be able to stand back and not ‘take it personally’. Sounds odd, I know, but it’s that ability to disconnect that sense of being attacked, hard done by, being the ‘victim’, that allows you to recognize your own responsibility (which may just be for being young and naïve, or not feeling that you deserved real love) without blame or guilt.
Acceptance starts with yourself, and then amazingly it’s not so difficult to let go of bitterness and blame normally targeted at others. It’s like a magic wand, that works every time – but getting that self acceptance and self love can be tough and can take years. It’s worth the journey though.
So roll on the divorce parties where there is a true and genuine sense of starting over, not just relief that it’s all over (because if you have kids, it never is ‘over’). And I’ll be the first to cut the cake that shows a harmonious co-parenting family on the top of the cake, or even the new ‘blended family’ that many of us find ourselves being part of as new partners come with children and ex’s as part of the package.