What Can the Albatross Teach Us About Divorce?

The albatross is a strong, beautiful bird with remarkable capabilities, and it is considered an omen of good luck in many cultures. Yet we tend to associate the albatross with emotional pain and guilt. We say someone is wearing an albatross around their neck when they can’t seem to shake feelings of guilt and feel the need to atone for a mistake.

The behavior of the albatross and human reactions to this fabled sea bird can teach us a lot about navigating the divorce process.

Cultivate an Unflappable Demeanor

The powerful wings and flying skill of the albatross enable these birds to coast over the oceans for hours without flapping their wings. They have been given the nickname “unflappable.”

Humans are referred to as unflappable when they develop a reputation for handling crisis situations with a calm demeanor. If you can keep your emotions in check and calmly work your way through conflict and setbacks during the divorce process, then you will conserve your energy and have the strength to reach the end of your journey. Be unflappable like the albatross.

Alter Your Course to Avoid Storms

Sailors practically worshiped the albatross for the bird’s amazing navigational skills and weather detection abilities. The albatross was such a powerful omen of good luck that in Coleridge’s famous poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” a sailor brings down a curse of bad luck on his ship by shooting an albatross.

The birds are able to detect shifts in the weather to tell whether they are flying toward a storm. Sailors watched the albatross in flight and if they saw the birds change course, they would alter their course as well.

Like the albatross, we need to be on the alert for signs of a tempest, although in divorce the storm usually involves emotions rather than rainclouds. When we notice the potential for raging conflict on the horizon, it is a good idea to follow the experienced navigation provided by your divorce attorney. Your legal advisor knows how to steer you toward calmer seas.

Know When to Let Go

For all its strengths, the albatross is not a perfect role model in divorce. The bird has a reputation for squabbling like mad over bits of food. It is a natural reaction for divorcing couples, just as it is for birds, but the time and energy we waste in the fight prevents us from seeing other opportunities and can even lead to the destruction of the prize we are fighting for. Instead, try to let go and seek out the other available rewards.

In the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the sailor who shoots the albatross is forced to wear the dead bird around his neck as a punishment for his foolish mistake. However, this painful reminder of guilt does nothing to prevent the disasters that follow. In fact, by burdening the sailor with his guilt, the albatross weighs him down so heavily that he becomes useless to everyone around him.

We can easily burden ourselves with the weight of not just one but many albatross carcasses during the divorce process. “I should have tried harder.” “I’m ruining my children’s lives.” “I should have listened to…” “Maybe if I hadn’t…” The guilt hangs heavy and can cause you to sink into paralyzing depression.  

You need to let it go. Just as the Ancient Mariner started to find peace when he began to appreciate the beauty of the sea around him, you may find it easier to let go of guilt by replacing it with positive action that helps you or someone else. If you’re finding it difficult to let go, ask your divorce attorney to refer you to a mental health professional or coach who has expertise in helping other divorcing clients.

Rely on Your Navigator in Divorce

When you are heading into new territory, you will fare much better with a guide who’s been there before. Your best guide will be someone who has navigated through many different conditions and can recognize the best route through both storms and sunny weather.

In the divorce process, that navigator is your divorce attorney. Take advantage of your attorney’s experience and allow your legal advisor to find the right path to your destination. At Vacca Family Law Group, we have the experience to guide you through. Contact us to learn more about how we could help.