Mindful with Irene (21)

Irene wonders why she and her divorced friends sometimes struggle so with love.

To many of my divorced friends (and to me too), the whole love-after-a-divorce thing appears to be quite a puzzle. Because once you have got beyond the grief of a failed family life, put your life back on track and let love in again, everything suddenly seems to be a great—great—deal more complicated than it used to be before, when you simply fell in love and everything fell easily into place (or not, but you didn’t know that then, because you were so in love).

My friend K (also divorced) and I have a kind of relationship-app-exchange. We message each other regularly about our doubts, thoughts, or just about the lovely moments. Basically, we app each other about all the things that come with a new relationship. How good is good enough now? What do you do with those feelings of irritation? How do you stop thinking from time to time “Pff what am I doing with this man, and why am I being so critical?” We came to the conclusion that since the divorce, our lives have become so much better that we are no longer prepared to be hassled any more. And that we may indeed sometimes want too much.

In our new Dutch Mindfulness special, I found a very meaningful quote regarding this. Susan Bögels, Professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Amsterdam, says, “It is a misconception that happiness itself is tantamount to experiencing an intense feeling of happiness (…) We are currently suffering an addiction to intensity. We strive for huge infatuations and great experiences. But very intense positive feelings are often followed by very negative ones. It is not about the intensity, but about the frequency of feeling positive. Our society does not encourage us to be attentive to it and therefore we seek it in very intense situations. While it could just be in the little, simple things: a good cup of coffee, a walk through the forest, a nice conversation.” I like that food for thought. All those lovely little moments in life with New Love, do I see them enough?

The international (English-language) edition of the Flow Mindfulness Workbook with the feature that Irene is referring to above will be available online from September 2016.

Irene, together with Astrid, is the founder and creative director of Flow Magazine. She lives with her children (10 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in her daily life.