Tag Archives: Coping with Divorce Stress

Five Years On…

In less than an hour, it will be exactly five years since that morning when my ex came downstairs, while I was making breakfast, and told me our almost 40 year marriage was over. So what would I tell my then 5-year-ago- self about how her life would be 5 years on?

I’d give her a warning that the first 2 years will be hell.  Year 1 she will be in such a daze, that 5 years on she’ll be able to remember very little about it.  Year 2, when everyone assumes the worst is over, she’ll still be in the middle of ugly legal proceedings, and the reality will set in that, yes, this is how it is going to be for the rest of her life, so she’d better get on with it.

I’d warn her that the man she devoted almost 40 years to will treat her worse than s–t – until he gets what he wants, and then, in e-mails,  will start referring to himself by the ‘pet’ name they used when they were still married as if nothing of any real consequence has happened.  (Until she tells him not to.)

I’d warn her that her family will never be the same.  Her relationship with her kids will change – some for the better, some for the worse – but the family unit she had nurtured and treasured all those years will be irrevocably changed.

I’d warn her that she is going to have some of the worst – and some of the best – days of her life.  That although she had lost someone very important in her life, the way would now be free for other wonderful people to show up, people she would never have had the chance to meet if she had still been married.  New friends – as well as the old – who will bring colour, and depth and joy, and experiences to her life.

She’ll visit places she has dreamed about for years – decades even – that she would never have got to visit if she’d still been married.  She’ll witness sunsets and sunrises, share a bottle of wine in a piazza in Italy with a friend, climb a sacred hill with another, sing along with an inspired musician under a starry November sky, stand atop Masada in Israel alone, climb to a magical Scottish lochan with her daughter and four-month-old grandson.

I’d warn her she will make mistakes along the way.  When someone walks out on a marriage, especially when they have another person waiting in the wings, it’s not a spur of the moment decision.  Their exit is carefully planned, so they enter divorce proceedings at a huge advantage – clear headed and determined – while she will be reeling from her broken heart.  It’ll be like running the most important race of her life against an elite athlete while she is hampered by a broken leg.  But… friends, family, and (hopefully – finally ) a good lawyer will help her redress that balance and get her to that finish line one way or another.

I’d warn her that friends and family will finally come clean about what they really thought of her ex.  They’ll be saying these things in the hope it will make her feel better, but in actual fact it will have the opposite effect and she will feel stupid, blind and foolish.  It they could see those things so clearly, why didn’t she?  And the truth will be that, yes, she did see those things too, but she filed them at the back of her subconscious out of love.  Love for her ex and her kids.

And love is never something to be ashamed of.

And then, slowly, gradually, she will start learning to love herself.  She will amaze herself by the things she does, even in the midst of that pain and grief.  She will amaze herself with her courage, whether it’s travelling alone, fighting back in the divorce, going to work for the first time in 40 years, getting up and talking in front of groups of people, setting  up her own business, getting that story published… just putting one foot in front of the other day after day after day after day, until one day she will finally look back and see just how far she’s come.  It might not have been the path she’d hoped to travel, but it will still be a good solid path.  A journey to be proud of.

It has been said that you don’t ‘move on’ after great grief or trauma, you move forward.  And so it will be for her. She will carry it with her, but she will move forward.  At first the burden will be so heavy and painful that she will sink to her knees and sob into the carpet alone at 2 o’clock in the morning.  But then, one morning – 5 years later – she will wake up to a beautiful spring morning, with the birds chirping lustily outside her window, and embrace the knowledge that it’s good to be alive. She’ll have plans for the day – things and people to look forward to.

She will be okay.

You will be okay.

 

Coping With Isolation

I’m very lucky where I live. We’re not yet restricted with how many times we can go out in a day, and I live beside a river path, so nature is close at hand.  Almost closer at hand now.  With the pre-Covid constant hum of traffic erased, the birds seem to be singing more sweetly, the river bubbling more peacefully, and some people, including myself, are able to take the time to slow down and listen to nature.

It’s the same walk I took every day for a year after my husband left me five years ago.  Did I notice nature then? I can’t remember but I doubt it.  Every day was a painful blur. I’d walk that river path with my hood pulled over my face and sunglasses covering my eyes so people couldn’t see the tears falling from them. Continue reading

Isolation

Photo by Dương Nhân from Pexels

Wow!  Hasn’t the world changed fast? Everything that was familiar about our lives has been turned upside down in a matter of days.  Around the world, fear of the unknown is at the highest it’s ever been for generations.

For those of you in the early stages of a divorce, worried about finances etc, probably living alone for the first time in years or even decades, the compulsory social isolation is a double whammy. The very time we most need a hug, none are available.  We are now physically cut off from friends, family and grandchildren. Continue reading

The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse

I came upon a review of this book in The Guardian at the weekend.  It looked lovely, so I thought I would pick up a couple of copies for my grandchildren.  However, when I went to the bookstore, they had only one copy left.  So I bought it… and I’m going to keep it for myself.  I will buy other copies for my grandkids, but this one is mine.

It’s the kind of book that takes five minutes – or a lifetime – to read. In many ways it’s reminiscent of Winnie-the Pooh, both in terms of the illustrations, wisdom and the fact that it’s a book about friendship. By the end of it, I was in tears. Some of the conversations between the animals are so profound. One, in particular, given the fact that my heart – and I imagine yours too – has been broken, really struck me.

“What do we do when our hearts hurt?” asked the boy.

“We wrap them with friendship, shared tears and time, till they wake hopeful and happy again.”

Isn’t that so true.  It’s one of the most profound lessons I learned after my husband left me.  I will be forever grateful for the friends who gathered around me, who allowed me to talk and cry. And it’s also true about time. Time does heal all wounds.  There may be a scar left, but the wound heals and the pain is gone.

Or how about…

“Asking for help isn’t giving up,” said the horse.  “It’s refusing to give up.”

The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by Charlie Mackesy is the perfect book for any occasion – happy or sad.

If you’d like to find out more about the artist, check out his Twitter account.

And buy the book.

Please, if your heart is hurting – or even if it’s not – buy the book.

Blue Christmas

Christmas can be hard.  I have a friend who was widowed 18 months ago, and she is struggling this year.  Although being widowed after 30+ years is different to being divorced (her husband didn’t choose to leave her) I believe the grief is similar.

‘Just get through the first year,’ people, who had never experienced loss, advised me.  “Get through that first birthday, anniversary, Christmas, whatever, and it will get easier.”

Little do they know.

That first ‘everything’ you are in shock.  It was the second one that my friend – and myself – found the hardest, because now it’s ‘real’.  This is how it’s going to be for the rest of your life.  He’s not coming back.

But let me assure you… with time it does get easier.  The holiday season is always going to be difficult with the memories it conjures up, but over time, things will get easier.

So… I have a project for you to make next Christmas a little better.

  1. Get yourself a large bowl or jar  – decorate it if you wish.
  2. Cut out 52 pieces of paper about one-and-a-half by two inches.
  3. Roll each up into a little scroll and tie it up with ribbon.
  4. Each week in 2020 write down something good that has happened to you that week and put it in the jar.
  5. On either Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve 2020 open them up and read these new happy memories.

Wishing you peace this Christmas Season and every good wish for 2020.

Should You Meet The Other Woman?

When my husband left me, he insisted there was no-one else… but hoped there might be someone in the future.  And he promised, out of respect for me and our kids, that he wouldn’t even attempt to date for six months.

In my gut I knew there was someone else but I was accused of being paranoid. Hadn’t he promised me there was no one?? But then the truth came out. Yes, there had been another woman all along. Continue reading

Woyaya – We Will Get There!

 

Photo by Krivec Ales from Pexels

In the years after my husband left me, I had to stop listening to music popular in the years we were married.  The memories were just too painful.

Instead, I went back to music from before I met him.  Those songs held no negative memories, and helped me find ‘me’ again… if you know what I mean. Continue reading

It Takes Two To Make a Relationship Work…

… or does it?

Princess Diana famously said, ‘There were three of us in our marriage, so it was a bit crowded.’

And then there’s that old chestnut, “It takes two to destroy a marriage.”

After my ex left me, I wrestled with both those sayings.

If it hadn’t been for my ex’s girlfriend (now wife) giving him an ultimatum, would he have ever left?

And if it takes two for a marriage to break down, then I must share 50% of the blame for the failure of mine. 

I asked my husband, ‘What did I do wrong?’  Continue reading

On Being a Single Grandparent

My husband’s job took him away from home, so I spent a lot of time as a single-parent. Particularly when our kids were really young, he was often gone for weeks, months, and one time for over a year, with only two short visits home.

I loved my husband.  I love my kids and grandkids.  As immigrants, with extended family living thousands of miles away, I cherished our tiny family unit. When our kids got married and the first grandchild came along, it was wonderful seeing that family expand.

I loved it when my husband and I spent time with our little granddaughter, babysitting her for a few hours, or having her for a sleepover.  We took her to our local park, out for dinner or breakfast, and once – unsuccessfully – to the movies. Spending time with her, it was like we were getting a chance to make up for all the time we’d spent apart and unable to enjoy our own kids together when they were little. Continue reading