It isn’t unnatural to never think divorce will happen to you. Even though my ex and I had a longstanding joke of endless scenarios of what would happen in the event of our breakup, I never seriously believed it would end. And after years of dedication and service to a relationship that was notoriously on and off again, an ultimate end-all breakup seemed so unlikely. But even if you don’t entertain the notion of divorce, most of us at least have painted some picture in our minds of what it would be like. Here are things that I’m learning about divorce that I never heard about or witnessed until living it.
Emotional Stability – GONE. I’ve always been an emotional person, and I’ve learned different ways to cope with disappointment or tragedy, however, none of these coping mechanisms can prepare you for the merciless roller coaster of depression. Some days, I am so empowered and I feel like I am finally on the right track, ready to start fresh, and meet new people, and the next day, cannot pull myself out of bed. The extremes of this cycle are unlike anything I’ve experienced, even as a recovering alcoholic.
Mutual Friends? Gone. I have done quite a bit of reading on this, post-separation, and this was the most painful reality that I had to face during this entire ordeal. I always knew my ex was a jerk, so when the isolation and abuse started, things eventually clicked. I knew the types of people who become abusers, and although I couldn’t recognize it until it was too late for our marriage, it was a truth I couldn’t deny. However, when you have friends, girlfriends who are wives themselves, who have weathered in their relationships with the help and support of their friends, including and mainly me, because I’m always there for my friends. I have even solicited help from my ex when our friends marriages were in trouble. Did any single one of these people return the favor or even attempt to support what is right or finding good solutions to what isn’t? Did any single one of these people provide me with the love or support that my heart is aching for? Sadly, no. I remember a specific instance where I met some of these ladies at an event, the first time we had all been together like that since my marital status had changed. We were all sitting around, talking, mostly baby talk (which I cannot relate to, nor do I want to at this point) and the next song played stirred up a rush of emotions, so I excused myself and left the table, to go to the restroom to compose myself. As I returned, no one even bothered to ask what was going on, and I left the event feeling abandoned and like a mess. I learned not to look to others when I’m at my weakest, because the weak ones will just want to push you away, they don’t want a reminder of what could go wrong in a marriage very much like their own. This hit me extremely hard, but I did learn to appreciate those friends who did understand the concept of loyalty and were there for me in capacities I didn’t even know I needed.
Another loss I experienced mostly at night. Peaceful Sleep also became a distant memory. Although I separated from my abuser, and was in a physically safe place with my family that I trust unconditionally, I’ve written about my nightmares in other entries, so there’s no need to get into great detail, but consciously thinking about something besides the divorce and the abuse has helped to avoid nightmares on most nights. This is still a work in progress.
Most importantly, I like to remind myself of the things I didn’t lose. Volunteering my time with women who have also been abused has made me humbled and thankful for so many things, including the fact that I did not allow myself to stay in a situation where I was being abused. I can admit, and I do so without shame, that I did marry the wrong kind of man. I did put up with insults, disrespect, isolation and manipulation longer than I should have. I admit that I did not listen to my friends and my family when they warned me against the potential disaster of choosing this type of man. I admit that without shame, because I have forgiven myself. I only had good intentions, and maybe he did too, I don’t know, nor do I care to find out. Maybe someday I can forgive him, but that day isn’t today or anytime soon.