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Moving On After Divorce - Woman's Guide to Surviving Divorce
Divorce isn't easy
Everyone knows divorce isn't easy. Not only the process itself, but the emotions that surround the event. Whether the divorce is mutual or one-sided, it's never an enjoyable experience. Add some children to the mix and it's even harder to recover. Just because marriage is meant to be forever doesn't mean the aftermath of a divorce has to be. I'm writing from experience and not from any knowledge of divorce law, custody battles or the psychological effects of divorce. This is just my story and my opinion of how to make it through what will be a tough time in your life. I hope my experience can help other women recover more quickly.
When someone finds out you're getting a divorce, their first thought or comment is, "What happened?" Most of the time people won't have a clue that anything was wrong with your marriage. Don't feel that you have to give them the personal details of "what happened." It's much easier to use a general statement like, "we grew apart" or "it just didn't work out."
What happened in my marriage? I fell out of love. It's that simple. We got married too soon and had a baby too soon after that. We didn't have the time to get to know each other and spend time together as a married couple before the excitement of having a baby loomed ahead. We were both scared, but excited at the same time.
In a way, I'm glad things happened as they did. If I hadn't gotten pregnant so quickly, I may not have come to realize that he wasn't the right one for me. I didn't feel that he showed me the emotional support I needed during my pregnancy and childbirth. Maybe it was because he wasn't ready to be a father. Whatever the reason, this time in our loves allowed me to realize that it wasn't meant to be.
Soon after the baby was born I felt alone. I suffered from postpartum depression. I would sit in the rocking chair with a crying baby the entire night while he sat in another room of the apartment playing video games and chatting with friends on the computer. The resentment I felt for him during those tough few months led me to eventually fall out of love with him. I didn't want to be around him. He didn't make me laugh or make feel loved. It just wasn't working.
Near the end of our marriage, I was threatening to leave. I guess he thought I was bluffing because he would occasionally throw a "when are you moving out?" into the mix of an argument. So, one day while he was at work, my mother and I moved all of my and the baby's belongings out of the apartment and into her house. When he arrived home he called me, obviously upset. I had left something of the baby's at the apartment and had to go back. When I pulled in the driveway that night, I could see him standing in the now empty living room through the window. He was crying. I felt horrible. Sometimes it takes a person exiting our lives to realize just how much we care for them. The sad part is, by this time it's too late.
Moving on was hard for me. Since I was a teenager, I'd always been in a relationship. I had never lived on my own. I was either living with my parents or living with a boyfriend. After a few months at my mother's house, I started to feel like a burden. I knew it was hard for her and my stepfather to have a crying baby in the house. They had just bought a house together and probably wanted to live their lives child free. Here I was, taking up their basement and providing some nightly wailing to keep them awake. I decided it was time I moved out on my own. The apartment search began.
I finally found a place of my own and moved out of my parents house. I was alone and scared, but determined to make it work. My mother was a big help and over time, I began to feel more and more independent and happy to be alone. I learned how to appreciate having my own place where I could do what I want, decorate it the way I want to and not have anyone complain about the noise or whether I was staying up too late on a work night. Life was finally getting better!
The neighbors on the second floor were amazing. A young married couple that loved cats. Since I've always worked at a veterinary hospital, conversations about their cats came easily and helped us become friends. I always felt more alone at night after the baby was in bed. Luckily, this was the time that they would sit on the back deck, have a drink and talk. I'd take the baby monitor out with me and spend time with my new friends. Ahhhh.. life was good.
Once I had enough money to file for divorce, I did it. I didn't ask for alimoney or any of his belongings. "How could I do that when I'm the one that left him?" If he had left me, I'd feel more like I had a right to some of his money and things we purchased together. I didn't feel right asking for anything and I wanted it to be over with as quickly as possible. And it was. He didn't fight it. We agreed on child support together and he played an active role in his child's life. There was a little bit of drama when I first started dating again because he was still in love with me. Once he got over the hurt and realized that I was really gone, he gave up.
To this day, he takes his daughter every weekend and helps out by giving me a little extra money if I need it. We are what I would consider good friends and I'm thankful for that. So many people have nasty divorces with a lot of name calling and mudslinging. I'm very grateful that my divorce went so smoothly.
You can recover from divorce! Don't try dating immediately afterward. Live alone and find yourself again. Learn to love yourself again and get to know the real "you." I think this is the most important step in the recovery process. When you're married you lose "you" and become "us." It takes time to get back to being "you" again. Once you get there, you can invite someone else into your life again. Take as much time as you need to get back on your feet and start to feel happy again. It's not easy, but you can do it!