Tag Archives: depression after divorce

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

Sleepless Night of the Soul

I rarely have of those nights any more. You know the ones I mean… where no matter what you do, sleep refuses to come and your mind tumbles wildly through the night hours. Not like in the early days after my husband left me, where night after night, week after week, sleep was elusive and, when it came, filled with painful dreams. But I experienced one tonight.  And now, here I am, at 5am, sitting at my desk with a cup of tea, staring out onto a dark bleak snowy landscape waiting for the dawn to break and banish the night.

It makes sense why it all came to a head tonight.  It was Valentine’s Day on Friday and all that online gushing about how wonderful other people’s spouses or partners are can kind of get to you after a while.  And then on Saturday I hosted an annual winter party that for fifteen years my ex and I hosted together, so perhaps it was only natural that he’s been on my mind a lot.

When I couldn’t sleep tonight, I picked up my iPad and started scrolling through my Facebook page.  I came across a quote that made me  immediately think about her.

Yes her.

You know who I mean. Continue reading

Trigger dates

For the last ten years of my marriage, August 5th, was a date that brought me joy. On  August 5th, 2005, after enduring four years of kidney dialysis, my husband was given the generous gift of a cadaver donor kidney.

I remember that day clearly; the lunchtime phone call from the hospital and their inability to contact my husband.  (Although he had a cell phone, he refused to carry it.)  Even though I was his wife, for reasons of patient confidentiality they couldn’t tell me the reason for their call, but they did answer my question.  “Is it time sensitive?” I asked.

The voice on the other line replied, “Yes’.

“How long does he have?” ”

“Thirty minutes.”

Thirty minutes and they’d give the kidney to someone else.

My son and I swung into action.  I phoned every person and place I could possibly think of where my husband might be. My son jumped into my car and literally cruised the streets downtown, close to his office, looking for him.

Long story short, they got to the hospital in time and he got the kidney.

I remember that night, seeing him post op, unconscious, his body swollen with all the fluid he’d received.  Honestly… he looked so white and awful I was terrified he might die.  But he survived and our lives changed. No longer were any of us – but particularly him – tied to the relentless demands of the dialysis machine.

Ten years later, on August 5th, my daughter discovered that the story my husband had fed all of us – that there was no-one else involved in his decision to break up our marriage – was an outright, and deliberate, lie.

Until that moment, I think I’d carried the illusion that our marriage might still be saved.  After that moment… after almost 40 years of loving him, I felt irrelevant and worthless. I wasn’t worth being told the truth.  What purpose did I have?  What meaning did my life have?  What meaning or purpose had I ever had?

Over the past few years, the sense of worthlessness has eased.  It’s a cliche but true – how someone treats you says nothing about you and everything about them. My meaning and purpose have started to crawl back, but August 5th is never an easy day.

And then, driving to pick up a friend from the airport today, I saw a sign by the side of the road that said, “You matter’.

It turns out it’s one of many signs displayed around our city by the woman depicted in this article. She states, “I believe that someone out there read that sign and it made their day better.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but Ann made my day better. Tomorrow – August 5th – will be much easier.

Thank you, Ann.

 

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

What do you need more of in your life?

Photo by Ju Carvalho.

Gumption: the ability to decide what is the best thing to do in a given situation, and to do it with energy and determination.

After a six-month break, I’ve started writing Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages again.  I’ve struggled for a few days getting even two pages written, far less three, so, to make things a bit easier for myself, this morning I used a journalling prompt I found on Pinterest last night.

“What do you need more of in your life?”

The three pages came quick and fast – oh yes, I need a lot more self-discipline, a good dose of self-belief, and a little male company wouldn’t go wrong – but it wasn’t until about halfway down the last page that I finally figured it out.  What I need – what I really need more of – in my life is ‘gumption’.  Find that, and perhaps the rest will fall into place. Continue reading

Choose your words carefully.

I’ve been thinking a lot about subtext recently –  when someone says something that doesn’t match up to what they actually think or mean – and it got me thinking about some of the things people said to me in the days, weeks, months, even years, after my husband left me.

“You’re better off without him.”

“Think of it as being released.”

“He was a weight around your neck.”

“I never trusted him.”

“The first time my husband cheated on me would be his last time.”

“You should have walked out years ago.”

I know what my friends and family were trying to do.  They were trying to comfort me.  Support me.  Help me.  Love me.  I know they were, but sometimes those words of ‘support’ cut me to the core.

Because if you really look at those phrases, and how they can be interpreted by someone who is in emotional pain, it’s not hard to read the subtext behind them.  Continue reading

Meet The Day

A video came through on my Facebook feed today –  an old interview with the actor Pierce Brosnan where he talked about the grief he experienced when his first wife died.  How did he cope?  His response – With young children to care for, he just had to get up and Meet the Day.

I remember my mum asking one of her friends, whose husband died when their children were young, how she had coped. Her friend replied that she just had to get on with it.  She had young children to feed, clothe, house and bring up.  And, she admitted, in some ways it was perhaps easier than if he she had been left alone later in life. She had no choice. She just had to get on with it – for the children’s sake. Despite everything, she had a purpose. A vitally important purpose.

One of the challenges of senior divorce is that we are usually left with only having one person to look after.  Ourselves.  And as wives and mothers, we’ve always put ourselves at the bottom of the pecking order behind husbands and children.  With our children probably grown with families of their own by now, it can be hard to suddenly switch focus from being a wife and mother to being… ourselves.

And there are times when it’s all too easy to wonder if the fight is worth it.

But it is.  Truly it is.  If you are at the beginning of this journey, please trust me. When it first happened to me, others who had been down the same path assured me it would get better/easier – and they were right. It will take time, and there may be a few missteps along the way, but it won’t always hurt this much and YOU are worth it.

Pierce’s advice is good advice  Get up and Meet The Day.

Set your alarm. Get out of bed when it rings, and make your bed before you can be tempted to climb back under the covers and sleep away the day.  Have a shower.  Put your clothes on – nice ones, not your ratty t-shirt and jeans. Meet that day face on.

If the day looms empty before you – weekends can be the worst –  make a plan of attack the night before.
For example:
– Arrange to meet a friend for coffee.
– If you need to go back to work, work on your resume and contact the library to see if they offer any free workshops to help you update your skills.
– Get outside if you can and go for a walk.  Or a bike ride. Go swimming. Volunteer at your local dog rescue centre to become a dog walker.
– Do something creative – write, draw, paint, sew, play the piano, redecorate your room, bake a cake.
– Keep a gratitude journal – find 5 things to be grateful for that day.
– If you have to meet with your lawyer and find it overwhelming, ask a friend to go with you.
– If you find Morning Pages useful/helpful, start your day by writing in your journal

It’s hard.  Painfully hard – especially those first weeks, months, year – but you can do it.

You are stronger than you think.

Meet.  The.  Day.

 

 

Trigger Dates

Version 2

I didn’t feel great when I woke up this morning – kind of dizzy and lightheaded. When I looked in the mirror I thought I looked a bit pale. I brushed it off, putting it down to leaving the island on the first boat today and not sleeping terribly well last night.

We were on the ferry when my daughter said Continue reading