- Gender and Relationships
D-I-V-O-R-C-E: Seven Letters That Will Change Your Life
“Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.”— author unknown
Marriage can be wonderful and life changing...against all odds. The odds of two people meeting and living together for their life time is rather difficult to imagine...but as we all know it happens. My parents were married for 60 years before death ended their marriage (which they probably resumed in the afterlife). But in some cases it does not last.
I am not a marriage basher or a man basher or anything like that. My purpose is to share my experience and to give hope to those who find themselves divorced and trying to make sense of it all.
It was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me...I found my self worth once again. I had lost it. And probably that is my fault. But it was found and changed dramatically the course of my life.
It happens....marriages end
The last thing on my mind when I married a man who was my Prince Charming was that one day our marriage would become broken and irrepairably damaged.
But it happened.
And for me it turned out to be a turning point and a positive change that would shape my life for years to come.
I was devastated at the time and tried to put together the pieces of my life so that I could be the Mother to my daughter that she deserved.
Perhaps a foreshadowing....I felt as if I were fading away.
Dr. Phil fan or not the little video snibbett is worth the view
Personally I am not a huge fan of Dr. Phil. Probably I am not what you would call a "fan" at all He does however make excellent points in this short, casual chat.
One of them being:
Paraphrased he says: You will be able to trust again when the idea of another person disappointing you will not leave you emotionally bankrupt. Take a moment and hear his words.
Short and to the points...casual Dr. Phil at his best...
Starry eyed and riding on a rainbow two hearts find each other and begin their lifetime of love together. My heart no longer belonged to me.. Repeating the words for better or for worse implies that from that point on no matter what these two hearts will remain intertwined.
That was what I believed many years ago when I married a young man that swept me off my feet. I Sharing my experience of divorce took me back to the time when I lived it. Night turned to day, day to night again, but I sluggishly moved through that time. It was devastating and disconcerting. And I had a precious daughter to love and care for so I had to face each day with some degree of normalcy and move forth. Although at that time it seemed nothing would ever be normal again.
I did not enter my marriage lightly and divorce was the last thing that I had ever thought would happen. Sadly after much consideration, our marriage ended. Being divorced to me was like death. Except in death the person you loved dies.
There is not pretense in what I share here. It was not easy to recover. It was painful and scary. I felt alone and sad. I felt angry and anxious. it took years for me to put this totally behind me.
The good news is----YOU will find a new day, a new beginning, and life will be good again. Be patient with yourself...allow yourself to grieve.
" You are stronger than any situation. You are stronger than any doubt. you are stronger than everyone else thinks you are, stronger than you were yesterday. You can do whatever it is you want, whatever you decide you are going to do. Now, what are you waiting for."— author unknown
Separation before considering divorce
Divorce should be the last resort. It should only happen when all other plausible options have failed. The exception to that is when abuse of any kind is occurring. Then divorce should be swift for a number of reasons.
If your marriage has come to the point where it just is not a harmonious and healthy relationship, a separation might be a wise choice. It will give both of you the opportunity to reflect and decide if you can save your marriage. This is especially troubling when children are involved. But staying together for the children is not wise if there is constant arguing and dissension. A separation will help to find the answers you will need before you proceed to the final end of your marriage.
Divorce is a life event that can call into question all of what individuals believe to be true about their lives. It is a total invasion of an unwanted condition that takes on a whole life of its own. Many times in a marriage one person is more invested n the marriage than the other. When the marriage ends, that one person may feel the devastation that it brings to a greater degree than the other person.This is not a time to compare wounds, my pain is worse than yours. The pain for that person lingers longer and is more heartfelt. For that reason the ending of the marriage is a much more difficult time for that person and recovery takes far longer.
Why didn't our marriage last?
The fairy tale marriage I was in lasted for nine years and then it ended. It took both of us to break it. Perhaps one of the reason it failed is that my expectations for it were unrealistic. The way I can explain it is to say that we outgrew each other. Our values and expectations for the future were not in sync and the differences were great enough to cause an end to nine years of being together.
The reason for divorce in my case was far more complex than I have suggested. Citing what they were would not make any difference now. Trying to make someone else look worse would not make me look better.
My belief was that I would marry once and it would last forever. That was the kind of marriage my parents had. Why should mine be any different? But it was different and it did not last.
Stages of grief
Five Stages of Grief
Seven Stages of Grief
shock and denial
pain and guilt
anger and bargaining
reconstruciton and working through
acceptance and hope
A separation for another reason
My eight year old daughter and I had left Box Elder South Dakota in January of 1980 to travel south. I was heading to a new teaching position in Florida. My husband was remaining in South Dakota on Ellsworth Air Force Base because he was about to separate from the Air Force and he had one more year. The plan was that I would go ahead of us and find a new teaching position so that when he arrived he could settle into life with us, find a job, and we would live happily ever after.
Our daughter was the apple of her daddy's eye
No longer knew each other
The months actually went by relatively quickly. We spoke on the phone often and I wrote letters almost every day. and a year later we were reunited. It was an exciting time to be with him once again and for my daughter to have her Daddy back. They had always been very close.
Within a few weeks though the feeling of not knowing this person that I had fallen so desperately in love with nine years before crept into my soul. I would go to work and found on my way home from work that I actually was not excited about getting home to be with him. The raison d’etre that bubbled up within me when I even thought of him was no longer present.This was not the usual 'we were comfortable with each other so the fireworks were missing' feeling. This was a wall that neither of us could climb.
We did not know each other any longer. We had no common ground to speak of with the exception of our precious daughter with whom he did talk and do a few things with but only if she suggested it.
We continued to go through daily routines for a few more weeks. There was no anger, no harsh words, almost no words were spoken. He was looking for work but was not finding anything available. Where we were living was a very rural area where jobs were scarce.
I had a feeling
One morning I slipped quietly off to work at the same time I usually went leaving him tucked in bed. At the end of the day my daughter and I returned home and his truck was not in the driveway.
My daughter said ‘Oh Daddy must be fishing.” That was what he had begun to do in the afternoons. ‘Yes, “ I agreed, " I guess you are right, "
We went inside and right away I felt something was different. You know how you sense a strangeness, an unfamiliarity about your surroundings? That was what I was feeling.
I walked to the back of the house and when I got to the bedroom we shared the closet doors were open. His clothes were gone. The drawers to the dresser were open a bit. When I investigated I found his clothing from those drawers was gone also.
Walking back up to the spare bedroom I peeked in and all of the stereo equipment we had bought in Japan was gone. At this point I did not need someone to draw me a picture. The picture was clear and present. He had left me. He had left me not my daughter. She was collateral damage.
That feeling of seeing white that you may have experienced fell over me. It was surreal. It was a feeling of disbelief unlike any other I had ever known.
Even today I cannot say how I got through the next few days. I know that I did some crazy stuff. I would get up in the middle of the night and put my precious daughter in the car and just drive around. I was not looking for him. I was just driving around because I could not sleep. I was numb. Nothing seemed to make sense to me.
I had had no idea that he had planned to do this.
The need to know
At the end of that week that seemed to stretch on and on and on, I made a decision. I decided to go find him and confront him. I had an idea that if he had gone anywhere it would be to Albany, Georgia, because that was the last place we had lived before we moved to Japan in 1973. We had a mutual friend there. I knew his name so found out his phone number and I called him. His name was Ted. Ted had been infatuated with me when he met me while I was married to my husband. He never said anything to me but I knew and my husband had made little comments to me so I suspected it might be so. For that reason I thought I might be able to convince him to tell me if he knew where my husband was if in fact he was in Albany.
Dialing the phone number was emotional. I could barely make my fingers press the numbers. When he answered, I told him who I was and he said he knew who it was, he remembered my voice.
With no chit chat or pleasantries I asked him if he knew whether my husband was there and if so did he know where he was. At first he sort of mumbled something about not wanting to get in the middle of things but I begged him to tell me. I told him that if we had ever been friends to please tell me. After a few more seconds of begging, he told me exactly where he was.
Within eight hours I was outside of the mobile home that was now his home. My heart was no longer in my chest. It was exploding by this point. I had found him and I knew he was not alone. There was a second vehicle in the yard. When I was able to make it to the door to knock, it was opened by him and just behind him stood a young woman.
As it does, time passed...a new normal emerged for us...
I asked him to step outside for a few minutes and found I was unable to speak. Finally some words came. Tears followed. All I wanted to know was why he had bothered to come home to Florida at all. He never intended to stay. No answer really. There really was no answer. But I knew and did not need to wonder any longer. Those few weeks we had been reunited were really just marking time for him. This was planned all along. The other woman had come with him from South Dakota.
Turning from him with no words of goodbye I returned to my car and to my Florida home. To be my daughter’s sole caregiver.
A few weeks later I somehow scraped together the six hundred dollars it took to file for divorce. I had to go to court which was something I had never done prior to that. Sitting in the chair in the front of the courtroom next to the judge again my heart was no longer in my chest. He asked me words I had no idea I would ever be asked:
“Do you think you are a fit Mother for this child?” With no need to think of an answer, I turned and looked at him with an incredulous look on my face, and answered, loudly, “Yes!!!”
The gavel sounded and I was a divorced woman. My husband did not make the trip to Florida to attend the proceedings.
And that would be that. Now everything would fall into place, life would go on, and this would all be behind me.
Not exactly how it turned out.
About your children
Until my daughter was thirteen I made excuses for her Father for why he didn't come get her or call her or write to her. Finally one day she said, "Mom, you don't need to do that any more. I know."
I had never wanted to make him look bad in her eyes. She had to conclude whatever she had to conclude by his actions toward her. And she did.
I can only offer to you this suggestion when you have children.
- Speak as candidly with them as you feel they are ready to receive.
- Be careful about disparaging the other person You will not look better if you make the other person look worse.
- Even in your anger, and you will be angry, reassure your children that they have no ownership in the reason you split up. Reassure them more than once.
- Do everything you can to make them feel loved and valued and that you and your spouse are not in competition for their affections
- Be there for them. You are wounded and fragile and so are they.
Slowly trying to make sense of it all.
Something I found out on the way to my new life was that getting divorced was like having someone you love die. The big difference is that the one you loved is still living.
This was my experience. I went through the same steps after my divorce that I had experienced at the loss of a closely beloved family member or friend.
It was a process to recover. And I had a child who needed her Mother. I tried to be there to be the best Mother I could be. I do know that I was not 100% for months. I went through the motions of living. I went to work and came home and fixed dinner and went to bed and got up and did it all over again It was a time when I withdrew into myself and tried to put the pieces back together. As I came to terms with the new situation, I realized that my life was going to go on. I realized something else too. I realized that for all of the years I lived my life through his eyes. My worth was measured by how he felt and acted toward me. I was trying to be who I thought he wanted me to be. That was my fault. I allowed that to happen. I do not think I did it consciously. It was just part of who I was. I was a people pleaser. It turned out not to be a good thing.
AD (after divorce) many many months later, I realized I was worthy without him. and that identity was not tied up in his vision of who I am (or was at the time).
We remained in contact for a few years intermittently. He died a few years ago of a lung disease.
Would I have divorced him had I known how painful it would be? I would have. Especially knowing what I know now. It was a turning point in my life. I began to be me and not someone else's vision of who I should be. How refreshing that was. I never remarried and would not even consider it now. I am rotten. I call all of the shots as I have been single for so long. I am independent and head strong. I have male friends but I do not want someone to share my home. Share time with someone else and share their company but no live ins. This is the life I have grown to love. It does not work for some. It works for me.
Slow but sure
My road to recovery was slow and painful. There were many oceans filled with the tears I shed. I continually tried to second guess the past. The shoulda', woulda', couldas' were with me night and day.
My confidence was shaken. And my self worth called into question, by me. What could I have done to make my marriage work? Why wasn't I able to hold it together? Over and over i replayed it. My life rolled through each step of the grief process slowly pulling me along sucking out all of my life. Day and night passed till I got through a week. Weeks became months and months years.
That first year AD (after the divorce). about six months after it, I met a young man. He helped me to recover. He renewed my belief in who I was. And his belief in me was not tied up in who he was. it was all about me which was a unique experience for me. He remains a friend of mine to this day all of these years later.
For several years AD, i would find my mind wandering back to thoughts of the idyllic days of my married years. Tears would come at times. But these times became fewer and farther between as time passed. I could not deny that nine years of my life had been shared with someone else. And they were nine good years so I suppose part of me mourned for that. But not to obsession. Just a few fleeting moments every now and then as a song or place would find its way to me that rekindled those days of years past.
All I can offer to someone who may be facing separation and divorce is that you can survive. You can overcome the upheaval in your life and come out on the other side stronger, healthier, and wiser. Allow yourself to grieve as you put the new life you now have together.
If you find dealing with all of this is too much, find someone you trust to listen. Listening will allow you to vent. You are not asking for advice just someone to hear you out. Sometimes talking it out allows you to voice concerns and helps you to sort through all you now have on your plate. If you want advice, ask for it. If it will not work for you at least you have another viewpoint. Your true friends and family will be there to be your safety net.
Believe in yourself. Be kind and patient with yourself. Take one day at a time and you will survive.
© 2012 Patricia Scott