I never planned to get divorced. Who does? I had known my husband since the age of 18. I felt secure; I thought I had my life planned. By the time we got divorced I had known him for 30 years and for most of those years I was so happy until suddenly what seemed out of no where things began to crumble . The path to divorce was not a straightforward one and you will see in my account the frequent use of the word BUT because for every negative there is a positive.
In an ideal world logic would prevail but logic and emotion are hard to reconcile. You will find well meaning relatives and friends and even the professionals telling you how you ‘can’t go on like this’, ‘you only have one life’ etc. Everything they say is true, it’s logical BUT when you are in the midst of an emotional maelstrom these external voices are not always a help because as I saw it and as I still see it at times the inner voice in you is saying and sometimes screaming ‘how do you know life is going to be better on the other side? What do you know? You are not facing the huge life changing upheaval that comes with divorce, the uncertainty that accompanies it, the unknown future that lies ahead of you?’ The fact is however miserable I was, familiarity, fear of the unknown and also continued love for my husband and the belief somewhere inside me that we could get things back on track delayed me taking action. Divorce was too terrifying a concept for me to contemplate. It wasn’t just the emotions, I would say to myself how on earth am I going to afford to pay for a divorce? In the end to some extent the decision was taken out of my hands and I embarked on what would become a difficult and painful process…BUT
What I have learnt along the way has been invaluable:
- The anticipation is often worse than the actual process. In those weeks, months sometimes years of unhappiness divorce may sometimes pop up in the mind only to be hastily banished. Fear takes over and prevents us from thinking clearly. If you are in those early stages of questioning, of fear, the best piece of advice I can give is SEEK ADVICE preferably from a lawyer who takes the time to understand you and your story. Seeing a lawyer does not mean that the juggernaut of the law is taking over it just means you will know where you stand, you will be given the information that with any luck will reassure you and give you the confidence to make a decision.
- Seek support from a professional counsellor and therapist who has knowledge and experience of the divorce journey. Without the professional support I received I would have crumbled.
- Take each day at a time. The more you look ahead the more daunting the future can seem.
- Should you embark on the process, be involved. Often it can feel you have no control over your situation but the more you understand the process and what is going on the more you will feel in control.
- Don’t have expectations or feel under pressure to feel a certain way. Those who have your best interests at heart will try to encourage you and show you that your life will be better. They say these things because they genuinely believe and wish the misery to end and the happiness to begin. They suffer in seeing you suffer BUT it takes time, sometimes a long time to believe things will get better and its only too easy to beat yourself up about how you are reacting and how you should be feeling. We all react differently and cope differently and there are no ‘shoulds’. Whatever you feel go with it, don’t fight it. I’ve learnt its normal to feel fear, to feel lost, to question everything. Those who are ready with words however well intentioned are often those who have not been in the place you are now in. Seeing something from the outside gives them the benefit of perspective but not necessarily the benefit of understanding the turmoil you are feeling inside.
And when the divorce is over the pain does not just disappear. A wise friend once said divorce is a piece of paper, it doesn’t mean that your feelings and emotions suddenly switch off. In many ways the start of a new chapter is a period of fear, adjustment, transition and above all processing what has just happened. Suddenly you are part of a different group. There are those who are married and have their lives and then there is you – newly single perhaps with the responsibility of children perhaps not.
Whatever the circumstances there can be a desperate feeling of loneliness and vulnerability BUT every day, every week that passes you get stronger, you re-find yourself, you regain confidence and you do more than just survive. It’s a rollercoaster, don’t rush the process of emotions, just go with the ups and downs. You may not recover as quickly as your friends and family would hope but gradually the weight of unhappiness you have been carrying around for so long begins to lift and you realise you have come out the other side and not only have you come out the other side but you are a far stronger person than you could ever have imagined!
Finally, would I have done anything differently? Logic says yes but emotions say no. Be guided by professional advice but allow yourself to feel what you feel.