Is it possible outside of Hollywood?
This week I learned that 10 years ago I was part of a “conscious uncoupling,” better known as divorced.
My first thought after the news of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s very mature, well-handled split was, “Is this for real?” Then I thought it wasn't a big surprise. It’s Hollywood after all.
But when I divorced, I’m sorry uncoupled, things quickly unraveled and I found myself fighting for what now seems like will be for the rest of my life.
Looking back, there’s a lot I would have done differently, but at the time I thought I was doing everything right and I guess, without knowing, even trying to have something of a conscious uncoupling. When I made the decision to dissolve my marriage the two children, that I love more than life itself, were my number one priority.
I knew it would be hard for all involved, but as most mothers who care about their children, I wanted to make my decision as stress free on my kids as possible. What does that mean? Before the actual separation took place, I started the process of purchasing a new home, half a mile down the same street they grew up on. My children wouldn't have to change schools, they already knew the kids in both sub-divisions and most importantly, they could ride their bikes between the homes of mom and dad as often as they wanted.
All in all, the plan was for me and my ex-husband to be friends and co-parent as best we could. Note to Gwyneth, my experience with divorce and co-parenting 10 years later has been and still is far, far away from anything called a conscious uncoupling!
Instead of being able to have civil conversations about our children’s grades or who could take them to their doctor’s appointments, I found myself in a constant war that has done nothing, but cause severe hurt and pain. My experience shows that both parties must be on the same page. That certainly wasn't the case during my divorce.
I think during the time of my uncoupling, we weren't in agreement to the whole idea of divorce. I wanted one. He didn't. Reality set in so quickly that neither one of us really knew what was actually happening. Instead of accepting the separation, true raw emotions and feelings stood so far out in front that it became too hard to focus on anything else.
For 10 years, my ex-husband and I have been fighting, spending unnecessary money on attorney fees, and trying to make the other one hurt more. It truly hurts my heart knowing that in all of our craziness, we haven’t paid enough attention to the two people who matter the most. Our children!
I wrote earlier that I wouldn’t have done anything different. Well, I was wrong, wrong on so many different levels. In all of this, I’ve realized that uncoupling may not have been the best thing to do (well for him at least). Had I paid more attention to the real true issues at hand, and really understood how my children were feeling, their lives would've been much better.
While the general population thinks the whole idea of a conscious uncoupling is crazy, I’d be the first one to say, it’s definitely worth giving it a shot.
I just don’t know how many of us could pull it off. I hope that it works for Chris and Gwyneth, but more importantly, I hope it works for the sake of their children.
Janeen Walls is the community relations coordinator in the public relations department at Cook Children's Health Care System.