Last night I had dinner with my husband, my two daughters, my ex-husband, his wife and their 5 month old baby girl. We ate Chinese in the house my ex and I bought together 10 years ago, gathered around the dining table his new wife brought to the house when they married. My daughters sat at one end passing their baby sister back and forth between them, while the four parents sat at the other, watching what we've created together in the past 7 years.
It wasn't always this way. While our divorce was far more amicable than most, my ex and I had our share of rancor and bitterness, punctuated by pain. The falling away of your old way of life never comes without a price.
But the four of us--and I include our spouses in this because my ex and I could not be where we are without the willingess of our partners to come on this journey--we have worked hard to create from the destruction of one family a new one. My ex and I were not able to save what we had, but from the ashes of our 15 year marriage, we were able to salvage the friendship that brought us together in the first place. And with our new spouses, we have created a new, and I would say stronger family for all three of our daughters.
I want to acknowledge this now because I'm grateful for our ability to have created something good from something so painful, especially on this Thanksgiving Eve. But I also think it's an important lesson in the power of creative destruction.
We could have limped along in our broken way, trying to hold things together for the sake of the children. This is something that people do in marriages all the time. This is also something that organizations and companies do, clinging to the old way of life long after all signs indicate that the old ways are gone. But we chose a different path, to go through the pain and upheaval of acknowledging that we had to find a new way of being a family. We chose to end what we had in order to give ourselves a path to a new beginning.
In that process, we had to put ego aside and focus instead on creating a common good together. We had to be honest and transparent in our communications with one another and we had to keep revisiting the point of what it is we were doing--returning to our mission, if you will. We had to be willing to have difficult conversations and to give up some things we thought were important in favor of other things we found to be more important. And we had to trust that if we kept focused on our goal and believed in our collective desire to do the right thing, everything would work out. All of these, I think, are things we have to do whenever we're faced with an old way of life being replaced by something new. Failure to do them just leaves you bitter, anger and unable to move on.
All of this was hard, but it was worth it. And as I think about how good it felt to sit around that table last night, I'm grateful for the lessons of creative destruction these past few years have taught me.