Conscious Uncoupling: Are You an Enlightened Divorcee?

Thanks to celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin public “conscious uncoupling,” we have an expected way to divorce and co-parent, which has now been heralded as the best way to do this breakup thing. 

While I’m not sure of Gwyn and Chris’ specific divorce reasons and I do believe people evolve out of certain relationships and exit as friends, now that this “conscious uncoupling” standard is out there, it is undoubtably misunderstood and usurped by abusers as evidence that you are not on the same level your enlightened ex. 

It’s another manipulation tactic that puts the impetus on the survivor to “prove” their healing, using this enlightened co-parent argument to pathologize us. They use this example to encourage the implication that there’s something wrong with the you – usually in terms of your psychological well-being while at the same time elevating themselves.

This more intentional way to part ways has now become the external marker for others to determine if we are healed and healthy. Abusers use it as another form of triangulation. They position you and your lack of healing against outsiders who can judge you as a way to demean you and bully you into submission, which highlights how much they are superior than you. “Look even others think you are still crazy and not over this yet!”

These are slightly more camouflaged attacks against your mental health and just another way to keep you off center. 

Don’t get hooked. The more power you let them have over your emotions, the less likely you will trust your own reality and the truth about the abuser. 

I was surprised I had internalized the pathology around this because we fall back on the narrative that yes, if I were truly healed, their shit wouldn’t still bother me or that I would be over this by now. No.

Healing is not linear or happens on a certain time-line. 

Let’s make sure we determine the metrics for our own healing. These might include: Do I listen to myself more? Do I validate my own feelings? Am I getting stronger in my sense of self? Do I sit with my feelings without condemning them? Do I know what real love and support looks like?

Don’t let this co-opted story of the enlightened divorce pervade your sense of clarity. 

The beauty that goes missing in this story is that both Gywn and Chris probably did some serious work on themselves and met each other where they were in their healing. But you can only meet a person at where they have met themselves. Unfortunately, several of us are divorced/divorcing from someone who hasn’t done their work and projects that onto us as a way to shield themselves. 

So I encourage you, don’t accept this bullshit. Strive for your own emotional healing.  Keep clear on why you divorced in the first place. 

There is probably a history of inconspicuous emotional abuse with your ex that you are finally seeing clearly now. Don’t get disillusioned by the hope that the person you divorced is now some conscious co-parent and you are still stuck in the past. 

If that were true, your ex wouldn’t be shaming, demanding, pressuring you with a “how to heal appropriately story,” as if their perspective is the only correct way to look at things. 

No one holds the keys to healing but you. Remember this. This is the path to enlightenment. 

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Emily Brown is an English professor and writer. She blogs about peaceful parenting and how language creates and reflects our values at Her podcast, EvesDropping, explores the myths and beliefs that make us miserable. She also teaches co-parents successful communication skills in her new class on Udemy: High Conflict Co-Parenting Communication Course.  Emily resides in the beautiful mountain state of Colorado where she loves finding new trails to run and the closest Tiramisu at all times. If she isn’t spending time with her friends or family, she is reading a non-fiction book while drinking a glass of Pinot Noir.

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