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A Redneck Viking Funeral: How Visualization Helped Me Find a Minute of Joy

I post a lot of happy, uplifting content here. I try to focus on my minute of joy each day and avoid dwelling on the sadder parts of my story.

Sometimes, though, the hard stuff can't be avoided.

My marriage ended with a betrayal that left me devastated. I won't go into specifics, as there are too many people other than me whose lives were impacted through this process, but the important thing to know is I felt terribly, cruelly betrayed at the exact moment I learned my marriage was good and truly over.

As a chronic people pleaser, I didn't know what to do with the anger coursing through my veins. I'm not great at demanding my fair share of anything -- it's my natural inclination to make others happy, regardless of what it does to me. I had to get over that, but when my world came crashing down, I didn't have all the tools in my toolbox yet to get my footing and stand up for what I wanted and needed.

What I did have was a recurring fantasy of loading all of my ex-husband's belongings -- from his favorite tools and hockey gear down to his underwear -- into the old boat we kept in our garage, pulling said boat out into the middle of the driveway and lighting it on fire, as a sort of redneck Viking funeral for my marriage. I pictured the blaze, with giant orange flames and smoke that could be seen for miles filling the dark sky on a cold January night. In my visualization, I would stand there with my favorite beer and watch it burn to the ground, enjoying every minute.

The "Redneck Viking Funeral" became my go-to visualization when I was just too angry to do much of anything. I never did it, of course, and I never will -- I do want to make that clear. But oh, that visualization got me through many dark days. When I pictured the version of me that would light that fire, it gave me the courage to ask for what I wanted. When I started to feel bad about hiring my own attorney rather than the "friend" he wanted us to use together, I reminded myself that I didn't burn the boat. When I made appointments to look at apartments, pushing along a separation process faster than he wanted, I reminded myself that I didn't burn the boat.

In my case, it worked because it was a ridiculous foil for my true personality. I handled the devastation of my divorce by plotting out my new life and then making it happen. I have a therapist. My kids have therapists. I set up our new life methodically, finding us somewhere to live, and setting up our new household. I met with my financial planner to figure out how to afford everything. I waited an appropriate amount of time before dating. I am not a boat-burner, even on my worst days. But when there was no minute of joy to be found, at that very worst moment of my life, the visualization of my ex-husband's underwear reduced to ashes got me through the day.

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