Surviving until Thriving ~
The Crazy Time of Divorce, Empty Nest and Life in General.
It was on a Monday evening in July, just before my birthday, that I decided to check my emails down in my office when I also opened up the page on Facebook that would change my life forever.
There waiting for me were 16 pages of unedifying and unexpected text messages between my husband of 21 years, and a 35 year old Romanian woman, who lived in Sweden, whom he had met through work.
All our lives changed in that split second.
There is nothing easy about divorce. It is a savage, crushing, devastating crippling, terrible, awful, dreadful, dire, catastrophic journey because you don’t know where, or when, it is ever going to end for a long time.
You feel trapped between the failure of the past, and the uncertainty of the future.
You despair at the death of your dreams and you rail against the fact that this isn’t how you thought your life would turn out. Your ducks were supposed to line up a different way.
You struggle to understand what went wrong in your marriage, you question what’s wrong with you, what’s wrong with him, you struggle to apportion blame, you battle guilt and you agonise over whether the children will be damaged, or whether there was something more you could have done. But one thing that is certain, life will never be the same.
Divorce is like a death and as in bereavement, there are certain stages you will go through and because I believe that “Divorce is a process – not an event “ and whether you go through them quickly or slowly you will go through them, and my advice is to try and detach from the process and become self aware at times to see where you are, what you are learning and how far you have come, because a divorce is also a beginning.
From the moment you confront your spouse, or you are confronted, the breakdown has begun but the clock is also resetting on your life. It is eventually up to you how you play the hands you have been dealt.
Most parents I have worked with during this time go a little crazy. I was totally unprepared for the emotional, financial, & physical roller coaster of turmoil and despair that I found myself in at 3am in the morning – alone in a cold house with the kids both recently left for University and a mountain of unopened mail that I found informing me of the financial mess my husband had got us into. And even the irony of him being a highly paid Chartered Accountant really didn’t make me smile or help me in any way. I had to grow up, face up and to take on challenges from sorting out my financial security to finding a way to get rid of the mouse that jumped out of the bin one evening in the kitchen.
I remember sitting down one Winter Saturday evening in my kitchen, the kids having flown the nest, with a hot chocolate and my laptop open to address a spreadsheet that gave me palpitations as I had delegated all the finances for the last 21 years to my husband – well you would as he was a Chartered Accountant wouldn’t you ?
Not anymore as I battled my fear, understood the mess, took very small actions over a regular period of time and asked for advice from professional people to help me gain confidence.
The trouble is this is only one arena where you have to learn to step up and take control – despite feeling devastated, angry, terrified and unsure.
You swing between euphoria, rage, depression and despair.
I also was battling the Empty Nest Syndrome as both my children had gone off to University leaving me alone in a large house, that wouldn’t sell and the death of one of our dear dogs who we had had for 18 years.
I cried, I railed, I talked incessantly to my friends, & my Auntie Marie and Uncle Seamus as I began my journey back into my new life as a single woman.
Some of my clients jump into new relationships immediately, some withdraw completely, others take their time, seek the help they need emotionally, financially, and some consider suicide in that 3am dark watershed when the rest of the world is asleep. But most can be heard shouting at some point, “I could kill him.” My meltdown happened in a small box classroom used for helping children with additional needs when I heard about another financial disaster and my tears where tears of anger rather than despair
You soon discover that severing the legal bond is the relatively easy part. You may have “got the house” fought over the lawn mower and the pots and pans, divided up the memories, photos and friends but …….. what if you never pull out of this? What if you don’t make it emotionally? What if you go mad, have to live alone and stay depressed?
Divorce is far more an acceptable part of life than it once was in the 50’s, as more and more people are living longer. Perhaps it isn’t really realistic to think that if you marry in your 20’s that you’ll still be together in your 90’s. Perhaps we will all have 3 significant and serious relationships in a life time.
Whatever the media or society’s opinion on divorce from “War of The Roses” to “Kramer Verses Kramer” divorce is always a sad and distressing time as it is the death of dreams, ideals, memories, & the threat to your self esteem and your self confidence and self worth. You wonder are you loveable. But from these ashes comes the Phoenix as a crisis forces change and it forces growth.
What is certain is that the old myths and manners around divorce are changing but what is vital, crucial and very important is how you handle these changes from within.
Your children look to you for the blueprint for love, they also look to you in how you handle change, challenge, trauma and divorce.
Be mindful of that blueprint.
So seek the support you need, ask for help and go on line to a very helpful, supportive group in http://www.women-scorned.co.uk/ that really understands what you are going through and shares with you ways to stay sane until you become empowered and resourceful and whole again.
Sue Atkins ITV Parenting Expert and Agony Aunt