What's in a Role?

Over the past 3 years, I've had many roles. County employee. Business owner. Writer. Athlete. Partner. Aunt. Mediator. Daughter. Friend. The list goes on ... Over the next 3 years I will add many more.

When I work with divorcing clients, I think about all the roles they're leaving behind and all the new roles they'll be donning. Really, at any given moment, we're just a snapshot of who we are within an ever changing environment. Sometimes it's easy to shift between roles. Other times it's challenging, even exhausting. Also, particularly within a family context, it's often difficult to move out of a role or increase expression from within a new role because this can be met with resistance. Most organizations resist change. Most family "organizations" resist change even more.

When a family is going through divorce, it's almost like all of the pieces get thrown up in the air and the individual family members have to grab the ones they want, or dodge the ones they don't want. Sometimes one of the pieces lands flat on someone's head, regardless of interest. If one person has never paid bills, suddenly he or she must learn about finances. If one person has never cleaned a toilet, he or she may be dismayed to find him or herself leaning over the bowl. Often, one person will argue: "But he/she never had an interest in the kids before, now he/she is trying to be Mom/Dad of the year." Other times mediators might hear: "I tried to get him/her to work for years and now that we're divorcing, he/she finally makes an effort to find employment."

Yes, divorce changes things. Thinking about all this makes me want to become more conscious of the different roles I have chosen as well as the different roles I've inherited, been given, fell into, etc. I believe that one of the biggest mistakes we can make in our relationships is to become complacent regarding our role/s within them. While possibly uncomfortable and difficult, trying out new roles can also be invigorating and Challenging (with a capital "C").

I hope for my divorcing clients that at some point during or after the divorce process, they will embrace and even seek opportunities for new roles that the divorce creates. For the rest of us, myself included, I hope that we don't have to wait for such a life-changing event to evaluate and re-create the roles we want to play in our own lives.

By Laura L. Noah
Published on pronoaimediation.blogspot.com
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