This post is by Denise of Whereapy.
I didn’t want to do it; I really did not. Get a divorce, I mean. And yet, here I am.
What I had hoped would be the “sabbatical” that my then-husband and I had talked about for years as an option for me to deal with the stress of being a homemaker morphed into “I want a divorce” two months into the separation.I can’t say it was a total shock.But I had hoped that a reprieve was all that would be needed in order for us to both see things more clearly—and to get back to making “it” work. However, as one of my favorite lines from a certain song goes, “You can’t always get what you want.” For the moment, I’m focusing on the follow-up to that, “but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.”
But how does one get what they need?
Review and reflection
There are platitudes a-plenty for “overcoming” the “devastation of divorce.” Just spend an hour searching the internet, and you will come up with more recommendations than you can handle for everything from wading through legal waters and how to handle your affairs—of all types—to just remembering to breathe; because in the midst of upheaval, many people forget to do the kind of breathing that helps one heal.
We all know that there will be anger, guilt, and shame. Even if there was no “big sin” committed during the marriage by either party, there is shame in having failed. And we all know that everyone at least professes to want “what is best for the kids” when there are kids to be considered. But what does that look like in real life? On a personal level?
For me, it looked like chaos and confusion. At times, it still does.
If a relationship isn’t working, but it’s broken enough to leave, how many times do you try to repair it? Will I ever know the answer to that question? Perhaps not. Therein lies the guilt. You may find it crushing to face the fact that the many years of service and sacrifice you made for your family and significant other are just a distant memory for them.
I lost a part of me in the decades I spent as wife-mother-business partner. Now I am searching again for who I am and hopefully will “find myself” in middle age. Perhaps I might never have done that without the impetus of a failed marriage.
For anyone finding themselves in the position of separating from a long-term committed relationship—especially those who are doing so not necessarily of their own volition—I offer the following few suggestions for locating the light at the end of the tunnel:
- If at all possible, “play nice” with your ex.
- Get to therapy, and quickly. Different types suit different folks; but everyone needs it.
- Gather your network of friends apart from those you established while you were part of a couple.
- Get out of the house! Go places, do things, see people. Even if you don’t want to—especially if you don’t want to.
- Be creative. Try new things that you couldn’t or wouldn’t allow yourself to do when you were with your ex.
- Journal—yes, men too!
- Work, but not too much. Drink, but not too much. Eat yummy food, but not too much. Be merry—no limits!
- Exercise. This is a tough one for me to recommend, but honestly, it does help. Endorphins!
- Create a routine, and stick to it most of the time, on most days—except when the urge to get spontaneous overtakes you.
- Meditate, pray, and contemplate in quiet stillness. Listen to whatever messages may find their way to you, take what you need, and leave the rest.
Denise owns Another Person’s Opinion At Your Service, an advocacy and administrative support service for personal, business, and professional enrichment. In her spare time she writes for the therapy blog Whereapy.