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How to Be a Divorced Woman
I had a short marriage and a long divorce.
Two people get married and two people get divorced. Does it really matter who starts (or ends) things officially?
In the end you feel battered, empty and less than sane.
Some women get divorced for obvious reasons like domestic violence. This wasn't the problem with my marriage. He just didn't want to remain married.
I don't have a magic answer for divorced women. But, I've been there and come out from the other side. It happens, you have to stay on track, keep going forward and watching one day turn into night and become daylight again.
Give Yourself Permission and Time to be a Wreck
For me I had a real need to go to a specific beach which I remembered from when I was a kid. Ironically, that beach was far, far away from where I was living when I was married and still far enough to be a full day's drive away from where I moved after the divorce. But, I just needed to be there. I still don't know why. Maybe I just needed a goal, something real to pull myself forward through one day to the next.
I bought a car. I used the last of my savings and the money I had kept from my parents (the money they gave me for my wedding). I paid cash, got the paperwork done and then I made my plans, packed and drove away. I spent a weekend in the town near the beach. I liked the drive itself but I knew I was headed to that beach like a migrating bird with a plan.
I didn't find that part of beach right away and it wasn't summer so things were a bit chilly and wet. I drove down as close as I could in the car and then I got out and walked down to the water. I didn't do anything. I stood there awhile and didn't feel anything. I hadn't felt anything for a couple of months. Then I got back into the car and drove into town, found a motel. I went out to find a grocery store so I could get fresh, new shampoo and soap. Some groceries: fruit and cottage cheese to have in the motel room. I like doing that when I take a road trip. Having new soap and shampoo, like a poor woman's day at the spa.
In the morning I began the drive back home. I didn't feel anything different. But, once I got back I applied for (and was happy to get) the first job I applied for. Maybe taking that time made some difference in how I did on the interview. Maybe getting away to that beach broke the ice inside of me enough that I could seem human again. Even though I wasn't feeling it.
Now, I understand how much I really was feeling buried under all my sand, ice, and whatever else. I was angry. Angrier than I could handle feeling.
Getting Back Up Again After a Divorce
Become Part of the World Again
Getting that job helped a lot!
So that's lesson two on how to be a divorced woman. Get yourself out there in the world. Be with people again, even when you don't want to. It helps if you put yourself in the path of no resistance. Like a job where you need to be doing things and you just go and do things without thinking about what you're feeling. Don't spend time dwelling on what an emotional wreck you are. Put that in the background so you can keep living.
It takes time to get through your feelings. They are too strong to work out all at once. Talking to people can help but it's not for everyone. Plus, I would not have wanted to even try sharing what I was feeling then. There was too much of it. As time went by and I could feel myself thawing out I knew I was feeling far more than I would ever want to let loose on another person. Too much of almost every emotion.
I don't want it to seem that I never talked to anyone during this time. Of course I did. I had one friend in particular who helped me a lot. She had a lot more experience with men. My husband had been my first big relationship, first time of being physically intimate and my first marriage. She gave me perspective. Which I really needed.
At one point I was sure I was clinically insane. But that was in the very early days when I still felt less than human and frozen. I kept a personal blog those days. At the end of the time, about the time I started the job, I deleted the whole blog. I really regret that. In my life I would say I really don't have any big regrets, but that is one. There is no way I could remember the things I wrote in those days. But, keeping the journal was so important. Essential, really.
Don't Burn Out: Start Letting Some Things Go
I regret deleting that blog and all my angst, rants, tears and fears. But, I know it was a step I took (a big one, as it was not an easy decision to make at the time I did it) towards letting go and moving away from the wreckage, flotsam and jetsam of the divorce.
At some point you need to begin putting space between the person you were when you were married, the person you became as you were divorced and the shiny, new person you are becoming as you stop being an open wound.
You do begin to heal and to forget some of your feelings. Some of it just becomes less important.
I didn't realize how angry I was with my ex-husband until I discovered he had changed his email address and I didn't have the new one. It really bothered me that I might not be able to contact him, or at least have the feeling that he was there on the other end of the Internet. (We had been friends far longer than we were married). At that point, on that day actually, I discovered a lot of anger and let it go. I couldn't hold onto anger when I understood that I couldn't let go of him, our friendship and all that we had been and done together. It won't ever be the same, but it's something I want to keep. Over ten years since the divorce and I'd say he is a friend again. It changed over time, in stages.
Letting go of anger was such an important step in getting my own self back. I think that was when the last of the frozen feeling finally left me. I began not only being in the world again but feeling I was actually there, in the world, again.
Stop Being a Divorced Woman
Last of all, think about who you want to be and put yourself there.
I started this by typing that I was married a short time and divorced a long time. That is how I felt. I was seeing myself as a divorced woman, not a single woman, not a career woman, not a woman even. I put the divorced as front and centre of who I am.
I don't any more.
Now I'm just me. I happen to be divorced. But, it's just one facet of who I am. It's not how I introduce myself.
So that's how I was a divorced woman and how I found my way out of it - to be myself again.
Links and Resources
- I Am Divorced Not Dead
- Divorce Support | About.com
- Divorced Women Online
- The Ultimate Divorce Survival Guide | Divorced Women Online
- Anne Hill: How To Survive A Divorce
- Paula H. Noe, Esquire: What Do Divorcing Women Want And Need?
- Alison Patton: What Smart Women Do After Divorce
- How I Survived My Unwanted Divorce | First Wives World