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Throwing caution to the wind after divorce can be a great thing


You may think that Amy Poehler’s decision to co-host the 2013 Golden Globes with Tina Fey was a calculated career move. Or maybe you thought she decided to do it because her agent insisted it would be a perfect opportunity to branch out a little. Either way, you’d be wrong.

It turns out it wasn’t a level-headed decision at all. Rather, the decision was a result of a “major case of the f***-its” prompted by her divorce from her then-husband Will Arnett. At least that’s how Amy herself describes it in her wicked-funny book Yes, Please.

Amy isn’t the first person to be stricken by a major case of the f***-its while going through a divorce. These two things often go together, and that can be good or bad, depending on the situation. It’s a good thing when they result in giving you the courage to branch out and try new things, like in Amy’s case. But it’s a bad thing when they cause you to lose your cool and bludgeon a stranger’s car with a baseball bat, like in Britney Spears’ case.

Because your judgment is likely to be at least a little (and quite possibly a lot) off when you’re going through a divorce, here’s a handy guide to help you discern whether your case of the f***-its is working for rather than against you.

The f***-its can be great when it comes to the following.

1. Your attitude about your ex

Obsessing over your ex is one of the biggest impediments to moving ahead with your life during and after your divorce. One of the benefits of the otherwise no-fun process of getting a divorce is not having to worry about what your ex thinks anymore. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to deliberately do things that are designed to be rude or hurtful, because anything you’re doing deliberately, you’re doing for effect. And if you’re doing things for effect, you’re not making forward progress. Stop being a prisoner of your past. When it comes to what your ex thinks about what you’re up to, a good case of the f***-its can go a long way.

2. Your appetite for new adventures

Have you always wanted to run a marathon but felt the training would require too much “me” time? Have your dreams of learning to pilot a plane been grounded by the price of the classes? Then a heaping helping of the f***-its might be exactly what you need. If divorce teaches you anything it’s that life doesn’t always go according to plan. If you’ve been waiting until someone gives you permission to try new things, it’s time for you to realize that the only permission you need is your own. Figure out what you want to do, and start making plans to do it.

3. Your concern over what other people think

Stay-at-home moms tend to worry about what their other stay-at-home mom friends would think were they to decide to get a job. And women with careers tend to worry about what their colleagues would think were they to decide to switch gears and do something completely different. Divorce presents an incredible opportunity to turn over a new leaf. And a case of the f***-its makes it that much easier to pull the trigger. If you want (or need) to reinvent yourself or move in a new direction, who cares what anyone else thinks? This is your life, not theirs. So, f*** it.

In some cases, however, the f***-its can lead you astray. Here are some areas where that can occur.

1. Your duty to care for and about your kids

This super-no-fun divorce of yours not only impacts you, it also impacts your kids. They need you to be there for them now more than ever. So, while your divorce provides an incredible opportunity to redefine yourself and change your life, that doesn’t mean you get to edit out of your identity your role as your kids’ mom. You’re divorcing your ex, not your kids. So, if you catch yourself seriously thinking about selling everything you own, leaving the kids with their dad and moving to France, that’s when you know you have a toxic case of the f***-its. It’s not that you can’t ever do something like that; it’s just that you have to finish raising your kids first.

2. Your attitude about your job

Unless you have a new gig lined up, don’t let the f***-its get you fired. And actually, even if you do have a new gig lined up, it’s wise not to burn any bridges. I don’t want to sound like a broken record here, but divorce underscores that no one knows for sure where the road of life is headed. Even if you think you’ll never again have any use for that boring old job or your buzzkill boss, the truth is, you never know. Even if you never end up going back to work there, you might need a reference in the future. So, if you can help it, don’t leave your job on anything other than good terms.

3. Your personal standards of behavior

Lapses in judgment happen, especially when you’re going through something as stressful as divorce. But there’s a difference between forgiving yourself after a lapse happens and ignoring one in progress. If you’re the type who likes to be taken seriously at work, don’t go clubbing until 3:00 a.m., then drag in to work the next day too hungover to function. If you want to be the kind of mom that other moms trust to have good judgment, don’t invite your friends over for a few shots of tequila while your kids are having a sleepover at your house. Be clear on both who you are and who you want to be. Then, if you catch yourself drifting in a direction that is at odds with that, recognize that an advanced case of the f***-its may be hijacking your better judgment.

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