Advice for Real Life: Ask Stacy Morrison, Redbook Editor-in-Chief, About Her Book On Divorce

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As a divorced woman who read dang near every self-help book on the D-word I could find, I am very happy to recommend one of the few that helped me de-code my emotions: Falling Apart In One Piece by Stacy Morrison, editor- in-chief of Redbook.

I don't blog about my divorce. Heck, 12 years later, I try never even to think about it. But I've been so inspired by Morrison's book that next week I'm dragging Stacy on-camera to talk. Will you help me interview her by asking a question in the comments below? 

The magic in Morrison's book is in her subtitle: "One optimist's journey through the hell of divorce". If you've been divorced or just love someone who has, you probably don't need me to tell you that divorce is hell. Divorce with a child is a special hell. Having your dream of a life with someone explode is triple-hell -- even if you are blossoming professionally, as Morrison was when her husband called it off. 

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It's hell because--like the death of anyone or anything you love--most (not all, but most) divorces require grief. Spelunk below the emotions of rage, frustration, betrayal, hurt and disappointment--whether you are the leave-taker or the left--and you have two mangled hearts and a dead love.

Grief is a lonely business. Morrison shares hers well, pulling the reader into her confidence as she starts from D-day and begins her search for higher ground. It's easier--even cathartic--to follow her as she chooses the high road, since by that time she's your BFF, having been gloriously frank about her fury, her insecurities, her parents, her in-laws, her own temper tantrums, her baby boy, the house from hell and lying on the floor crying so many times the reader loses count. 

By the time Morrison chose optimism, I cheered. Here's an excerpt:

I stumbled across these lessons like so many river stones tossed on the shore, quieting thoughts coughed up out of the endless roil and thunder that filled my head in those two dark years. I picked them up and played with them in my mind, the way a hand will worry coins in a pocket. They gave me comfort, even though they weren’t the answers I thought I wanted, and the lessons weren’t always easy. Like the time I found myself lying on my kitchen floor for the fourth or fifth time, crying away another night, and I realized that even though I had so many people in my life who wanted to help me, no army of friends was going to be able to meet me here in my alone. 

But as the weeks, and then, the months unfolded, it slowly dawned on me that I didn’t need an army, even though I often felt my friends and strangers and our whole entire culture urging me to make divorce the ultimate battle. What I wanted on the other side of all this pain wasn’t to win, to be “right,” or even just to be able to claim the cruddy consolation prize of being the one who was “wronged.” 

What I wanted was peace. 

I decided the only way to rebuild was to start to understand who I really was, to love and forgive myself my failures, to move beyond all the dashed dreams to trust myself again. To dare to imagine who I might be on the other side of all this. To hold my best idea of myself in my mind’s eye and walk toward her, instead of being distracted by the anger and hurt that threatened to take root in my soul and scar it forever. 
And that has been the journey of a lifetime: to decide who I am and who I’ve been and who I want to be, and to do all of that with compassion, both for myself and for my ex. 

Five years later, I can honestly say that my divorce is the best thing that ever happened to me. Because I am at peace, and not just with my divorce. With myself. 

Who but an optimist would propose that this is what divorce has to offer?

From FALLING APART IN ONE PIECE by Stacy Morrison. Copyright © 2010 by Stacy Morrison. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY

Optimism, can you believe it? I would've said something unprintable about optimism 12 years ago. As someone who didn't get the memo on optimism or grief during my divorce, I can tell you I've invested years of journaling, jogging and therapy to arrive at Morrison's conclusion myself. Now? I believe that for some of us--again, not all--remembering the love that got you into this mess makes it easier to get out alive and support your child(ren) in a relationship with their other parent.

Do you agree? Or think I'm wildly off the mark? Then -- especially then -- I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. I invite you to help me help interview Stacy by leaving a question as well. If I'm able to use your question in the interview, I promise to credit you and your blog -- so leave a link! We'll be back with the video around March 23.

Editor's note: This book is scheduled to be available in stores on March 23. It is currently available for order at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Simon & Schuster



Lisa Stone, BlogHer Co-founder, also blogs occasionally at Surfette.

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