A subtle, but pervasive, aspect of divorce is the way your pronouns change: “we” becomes “I,” “our” becomes “mine,” and “us” becomes “me.” This may sound like a small grammatical dot on the horizon of your life, but it infiltrates many perceptions, like ownership, identity, and, the glaringly obvious state of singlehood.
Every time you switch from “we” to “I” you are working towards accepting your new single status, whatever is yours alone, and the emotional possessiveness of your children and/or pets. Our house is now my house, our kids are now my kids, we like that restaurant is now I like that place. It’s an adjustment and will probably sound awkward at first. Persevere, in time, you will come to see I, me, and my as empowering.
Like many aspects of divorce, this is part of the grief journey home to yourself. It’s an opportunity to appreciate your own resourcefulness, strength, and creativity in the face of deep disappointment, pain, and loss. By reorienting yourself linguistically, you are practicing cognitive therapy. Each time you say my house, for example, you are restructuring your world view. Your pronoun no longer identifies you as part of a couple, but recasts you as a free soul with myriad choices and possibilities.
Naturally, the change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process of noticing your automatic tendency to use words like, we, our, and us and correcting yourself. As you build your awareness, and the pronouns that correctly reflect your new status become second nature, you surrender what was for what is.
We are semantic creatures and language is inextricably woven into who we are. Change the way you think and you change the way you feel. Of course, this doesn’t happen in the early stages of separation or divorce, but once the dust has settled.
The more ways you can lovingly embrace what is for you now, rather than clinging to what was, the more space you can give yourself to grow and flourish in your new life.
As with all new endeavors, allow yourself time to adjust. Plenty of time. There’s a natural process to becoming an “I.” Healing has many components, not the least of which is our way of conceptualizing ourself. Watch how you take more ownership of your happiness as your pronouns change to reflect your new life.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang