Coping with Divorce: Cut, Stand Firm or Fold?

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

This is Lisa Arends, a divorce blogger who I met online. I asked her to write a guest post because she is someone who I really feel can give great advice on coping with divorce. Go to her site and read her story. It’s unbelievably shocking and sad, but beautiful how she has managed to move on with her life and create a career that is helping others.

Here is her post, and of course, I will be adding my two cents in after!

Rock Paper Scissors by Lisa Arends

During much of my divorce, I felt like I was playing Rock Paper Scissors against a much more skilled opponent. Whenever I would pull out the scissors, out would come the rock, crushing my hopes and my progress. So I would retire the pointed attack, opting for the pliability of paper, only to face the cutting attack of the blade. Frustration and fear would win out and I’d pull out my own boulder, determined to obliterate the pain and confusion of the split. Often only to find myself defeated again, the paper obscuring the view of the object of my anger.

It felt like a winless game, the probabilities working against my progress, holding me in place – neither married nor divorced, neither in love nor healed, neither moved on nor an occupant in my old life. I was in limbo, wanting to be done with the process and the pain yet lacking the skills to get there. I didn’t know when to cut, when to fold and when to stand firm. Of course, there is no teacher like experience. And, with experience, I learned when to use each approach.

Scissors are often the first implement of choice in a divorce. You’re hurt and you want to hurt back. You feel powerless and the blades give you some sense of control and influence. You may aim the scissors at your ex, at the legal system or even at those that have come to your support. Lashing out feels good at first and it is a welcome distraction from your own wounds. Yet the attack only accomplishes so much. Your ex will most likely respond with an attack in kind. The legal system is too big to fall to such an amateur assault. And your scissors only serve to keep those who are trying to help you at a distance.

In divorce, the rock is the element of steadfast determination, of digging in your heels and refusing to budge. It is a useful tool, especially when facing whatever you have deemed your non-negotiables. The problem with the rock is that it is inflexible in time of change. And there is no change like divorce, reaching its dirty fingers into every crevice of your life. The rock resists adaptation and instead wants to hold fast to the way things were. Hold on too firmly for too long and you just might find that world passes you by.

Paper is the underrated instrument in divorce. Its strength is in its adaptability and flexibility rather than in its virtues as a weapon. There are many more situations through divorce that call for molding oneself to the reality rather than trying to change it. Paper may appear to be weak, but its strength becomes apparent when it defeats the mighty stone. Often the best way to win a battle is by taking the stance of acceptance, effectively disarming the opponent by refusing to push back.

Divorce is hard. And choosing the wrong approach only makes it harder. Instead of simply reacting at each step of the process, try to step back and decide if it’s a time to cut, stand firm or fold.

So, the cutting part really hit home for me. I’ve seen people cut and I’ve done the cutting myself. When people are scared, they cut. When they are hurt they cut. Cutting might make you feel better for a few minutes at the most. Then you just feel worse. As far as standing firm, I truly believe that people who heal from divorce are willing to change, willing to accept advice and suggestions from others, and willing to make changes to adapt to their new life. Change is scary! But change can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. Lastly, I can’t resist saying that instead of folding, use your paper to WRITE! Write your words, your fears, your anger, your frustration, your happiness, your sadness. Write it all down! Writing is a wonderful therapy for coping with divorce. 

Thanks again, Lisa!


Lisa Arends works as a math teacher and a wellness coach. After using her own sudden divorce four years ago as a catalyst for positive change, she now helps people navigate their own divorces and transform stress into wellness. She loves to lift heavy weights and run long distances, and she is still learning how to meditate. learn more:

Buy her book here:



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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

2 Responses to “Coping with Divorce: Cut, Stand Firm or Fold?”

  1. Michael

    Divorce can be so painful and debilitating, so it’s enormously helpful that there are people like you who are able and willing to share your experience and help people at or during very critical times in their lives


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