Forgive me for sounding a bit dramatic, but last year my life literally flipped upside down. After months of deliberation, professional help, and spiritual consideration, I made the decision to get divorced.
We didn’t have children. We didn’t have to go to court. It was, as divorces go, pretty “smooth sailing.” It was fairly inexpensive. And not overly complicated as far as legalities were concerned.
And while it was absolutely the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make, it was inevitably the most right one.
In fact, I’d never felt more confident about anything in my life.
I remember at the time initially following my divorce, everyone around me kept showing surprise at how “put together” I was. Never had I been more “fit”, more “glowing”, more “myself”. Never had I been more “comfortable”, more “happy”, more “at peace.”
And I think many spectators of the ordeal probably wondered if I really was put together or if I just went home every night and cried in my pillow.
Most nights, I did not actually cry in my pillow because I truly was at peace. I was not thrilled by any means with what I had experienced, but I knew I made the right decision. And it showed to the people around me.
One of those people, a good friend who had also been through a very exasperating divorce told me: “You seem great and all. I’m happy for you. But you need to realize something. You need to mourn your marriage like a death. And you might feel fine now, but one of these days, it’s going to hit you. And it’s going to hit you hard. And when that happens, you need to let yourself mourn it.”
I did not know what she meant by that, because at the time I was still experiencing relief from my less than ideal, marital circumstances.
Now several months later, post-divorce, I am starting to understand the vitality of my friend’s advice.
Helpguide.org offers some great insight into several topics related to relationships and family life. They remind all of us, that even if the relationship was becoming dangerous, dysfunctional, or miserable, breakups or divorces are still going to be extremely painful! But why?
Because, not only are you mourning the loss of the relationship itself, but you are disappointed in unmet expectations. You are let down by very serious and deep commitments. You might even feel like your belief system failed you in a very real, and a very personal way.
Divorce is also traumatic because it completely disrupts your life. And again, even if your life is better because of the decision to get a divorce, disruption is disruption. Chaos is difficult to manage. Stress is bound to increase, maybe even exponentially for a period of time. Your routine, responsibilities, expectations, goals, and priorities are suddenly tossed around every which way. Divorce promotes uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety about the future. Your life plan is abruptly erased and you have to rebuild yourself.
First, realize that it is completely okay to feel a wide spectrum of intense emotions. It is okay to be mad, to be sad, confused, bitter, hurt, scared, disappointed. Let yourself be these things. Validate your own emotions and don’t criticize yourself for having them.
Second, you should give yourself a break! Allow yourself time to “not be on top of your game.” You might not function as optimally as you feel that you should. Your productivity level might be down. Don’t sweat it. You’re not a superhero. And you don’t have to be. You can struggle, and you probably should.
Finally, don’t even think about enduring this process alone! Surround yourself with a network of people who love you. Share your feelings with them. Seek professional help as needed. Maybe join a support group! But don’t isolate yourself. Don’t be ashamed with the decision you know you needed to make.
Divorce is not for everybody. I certainly never thought it would be for me. And I’m still figuring out how to navigate a very new, and overwhelmingly scary post-divorce life.
So for all of you who are going through the same thing, hang in there. You’re definitely stronger than you think you are.