Tag Archives: Divorce in later life

How’s it going?

This Saturday, April 25th, 2020, it will be exactly 5 years since that horrendous Saturday morning, April 25th 2015, when my husband came downstairs as I was making his breakfast and announced our marriage was over.

Five years.

Five years.

I thought I was over it.

And then, this weekend something happened which brought me (temporarily) back to my knees.

I had hoped a good night’s sleep would help me put things in perspective, but it didn’t.  So when I got up this morning, I wrote about it in my Morning Pages, hoping that would exorcise it…  but all I did was stain the pages with tears. 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

Love in the time of the Corona virus – Part One

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

It’s been a long hard journey to get to where I am now.  The first two years after my ex left me were sheer hell.  Since then, with the support of friends and family, and a lot of hard work on my part, my life has become one that is richer and fuller than I could have imagined even three years ago.  My heart and my mind are finally at peace. What more could I possibly want?

A man?

I don’t need a man in my life – I have proved that – but do I want one? 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.

The Cruellest Month

T.S Eliot’s poem claims that ‘April is the cruellest month’, but when it comes to marital break-ups, that title belongs to January.  In fact, Family Lawyers refer to January as ‘Divorce Month’ as it’s the busiest month of the year for divorce filings.

Why?  Because many spouses hold off for Xmas to be over before they drop the bombshell.  And although my husband didn’t leave me until – ironically enough – April, I can now look back and say with certainty that December 27th, 2014 was the day he checked out of our marriage both mentally and emotionally.

With the divorce rate now being 40% in Canada, it’s possible you have found yourself in this situation over what is supposed to be the happiest season of the year.

They say only fools give or accept advice, so what I’m going to offer here is an observation from someone who is almost 5 years down the path in which you might have suddenly found yourself.

Bear with me.

I went out for a New Year’s walk along the river path this afternoon, and what I saw was a perfect metaphor for where you might have unwillingly found yourself.  Along with several other spectators, I stood on a bridge and watched as some chunks of ice  floated along the river, before smashing into an ice jam.  There they lay, stuck, for some time, until one or two broke free and slid under an ice bridge.

We watched.  Would they reappear… or would they be trapped under the ice until spring came along to release them?

But no… first one, then another emerged from the ice and continued on their journey.

It still wasn’t smooth sailing.  There were more ice jams, more ice bridges to navigate. Sometimes they got caught once more… but they finally broke free and continued down the river.

And that’s what the journey through divorce feels like.  Especially in the early stages.  You get battered from place to place until there are times when you feel like you are drowning.  But then you re-emerge and continue down your path.  It’s still not going to be plain sailing, and there’ll be another ice jam.  Once again you may get stuck… but once again you WILL break free.

As I headed towards the second bridge which would bring me back across the river, I found it closed off to the public. Structural problems, apparently! So I had to make a detour to a smaller bridge about 100 yards away.  This one was decorated in roses, the flowers of summer.  And as I made my way across it, I spied 2 pieces of ice floating quite happily down the river.  But what they didn’t know, was they were approaching some small rapids.  They were in for a bumpy time.

And that made me think about this post-divorce  journey. In the beginning, it’s rough, so rough that you feel like you’re drowning in the pain and anger and loss and grief.  But, over time, it starts to ease. You go through a smooth patch… and then it gets rocky again.  Smooth for longer this time… then you hit some rapids… but then it eases and you float along.

And so it goes.

If you’re on this painful journey, trust me, you’ve got it, girl.  You can do it.

This year, you will discover that you are stronger than you ever believed possible.

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.

The Ghosts of Christmases Past

There are times when I find it hard to believe this will be my fifth Christmas since my husband left me.

Christmas is a special time for every family. As an immigrant family, far from home, parents, siblings and cousins, we created our own traditions over more than thirty years  – everything from the number of trees we put up, to their decorations, to food and presents.

It’s a common belief that the ‘first’ of anything after a divorce (or death) is the hardest, but I’m not sure that’s true.  That first year I remained in total shock as the ‘firsts’ rolled around.  My daughter gave birth to her first child – a wee boy –  two days before that ‘first’ Christmas, so mixed in with all that grief, there was a huge amount of joy.

For me the ‘seconds’ were the hardest, because that’s when it became real.  This was what it was going to be like for the rest of my life.  Also, by two years in, my friends and family felt I should be ‘over’ it so it wasn’t something anyone except friends who had been through similar experiences really understood..

Navigating these past few years, as Christmas has taken on a whole new shape, has been tricky.  While life generally bumps along, it’s at times like this, when society suggests that families should be at their happiest and closest, when those family fractures feel deeper than ever.

But while many of those Christmases over my 37 years of married life have blurred into one, I’ve had a couple of experiences over the past few years that have made these Christmases amongst the most special of my life.

The first came about in November 2015, about 8 months after my husband left me.  I’d gone back to Scotland and was visiting an old friend.  She’s known me (and my ex) forever, and tears were streaming down my face as I told her what had happened. A little while later, she handed me a small parcel.  When I opened it, I discovered it was a handmade cross stitch Merry Christmas Banner. “I want you to have something new, something special this Christmas,” she said.  “Something that has nothing to do with him or your past.”  She’d started making it for me not long after she found out the news of my separation. The work- and thought – that went into each stitch, made me feel so loved and protected.

The second…? Last year my daughter invited me to stay over at her place on Christmas Eve so that I could be there on Christmas morning to see my grandson’s reaction to his presents under the tree.  It was an experience I will never forget and one I would never have had if I’d still been married.  Forget the pile of presents,  his eyes went as wide as saucers when he saw that Santa had ‘drinked the drink’ he had left out for him the night before.

Drinked the drink.

A beautiful innocent phrase born out of pain and one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Courage, Persistence and Self-Belief

This video just popped up on my Facebook feed and I felt the need to share it.  The courage, persistence and self-belief of this dog is amazing.

Watching him, blindfolded, stepping out into the unknown brought me back to that first year after my husband left me.  If ever there is a visual metaphor for what it’s like walking, terrified, into a new life, blindsided and blindfolded – this is it.

I felt that dog’s fear in a visceral way.  It’s uncertainty.  But – despite near falls hear and there –  he kept putting one foot in front of the other until he got where he was going.

Just out of shot, you know his owner is there encouraging him – just as family and friends were there for me – but ultimately he was the one on the tightrope, doing it alone.

So, if you’re in the early stages of a divorce, and feel just like this dog, take heart.

In case you couldn’t watch the whole thing – he makes it to the other side.

And so can you.

So WILL you.

 

 

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.