Tag Archives: Healing after Divorce

Take Your Time… But Persevere

I was at the beach recently.  A storm was coming in.  The clouds were dark, the waves wild, the wind blowing.

Hard.

It was exhilarating.

I found a sheltered spot, wrapped my coat tightly around me, my hair blowing wildly in all directions, the taste of salt sharp on my lips, and watched.

I watched the water, and the clouds, but mostly the seagulls.

They were an inspiration.

One tried to take off. He flew low to the beach, then was beaten by the wind and landed again, quite ungainly.  He waited a few minutes more, then tried to take off again, flying low… low… mere inches from the beach…until he got the wind beneath his wings and soared.

Another hung almost static in the air, beating her wings but also getting nowhere. She dipped down, searching for another wind, but finding none, landed on the water’s edge.  As she did so, a wave came in and knocked her off balance.  She staggered a little, then straightened herself and plodded onto the beach.  She waited a while, then like the other gull, took off again, staying low to the beach until she too caught the wind beneath her wings and rose into the air.

They weren’t the only two struggling.  All the gulls were fighting the wind… but they kept on going.

And it seemed to me the perfect metaphor for what it’s like going through those first weeks…months… years after a divorce.

Get forced down to earth again?  Take a breather.  Rest.  Don’t force yourself back up immediately.  Find your balance,  then take off.  Stay low at first.  Don’t push it.  Take your time till you feel more confident, then spread those wings.  Catch the wind.  Yes it might shove you around, but land again – even in an ungainly fashion – if you have to and start over again.

But keep going.

The storm will pass.

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.

 

What’s in a name?

Deciding to change your name is a very personal decision. Although I loved being a wife and (love being) a mother, my feeling was that if my ex didn’t want me, I no longer wanted to carry his name. Embarking on my own Shirley Valentine quest to try and rediscover the me I used to be, I would do it with my ‘own’ name.

One reaction I got from someone who had only ever known me by my married name was very inspiring.  They claimed my own name sounded like a character from a Robert Louis Stevenson novel and told me to, “Go out and be the heroine of your own story.”

So what does changing your name actually involve?  When I married in the late 70s it was easy.  I had one bank account, a driver’s licence and a passport.  Done and dusted.

Now, 40 years later, it’s more complicated.  Some of it is costly, some of it’s not.  So how do you go about it?

No matter where you live, the most important thing to start with is to collect ALL of your ORIGINAL documents; birth certificate, marriage certificate and divorce certificate.  (Some people are tempted to dispose of the latter.  Don’t!)

After that, it will depend where you live.  I live in Canada, so this is how I proceeded.

  1. Driver’s Licence.  I took along all 3 certificates and got my new driver’s licence at my local AMA office. (Free)
  2. Once I had my driver’s licence for ID, I was able to change my provincial Health Care Card.  I also did that at the AMA office.  (Free)
  3. I then visited the bank with my new ID and all three original certificates and changed all my account info including credit cards etc.  (Free.)  I also have a bank account in the UK, so I needed to visit the bank with all three ORIGINAL certificates to have that changed.  (Free – except for the cost of getting there!)  This applied to my bank, it may not be the same with others, so check out what you need with your branch.
  4. Social Insurance Number.  This is where original documents are so important, especially if you were born or married overseas.  This was done at my local government office. (Free) They assured me the change would automatically be transferred over to the Taxation Agency, but it’s a good idea to…
  5. … contact your Taxation Agency and confirm that has been done.  Especially before you file your annual taxes. (Free)
  6. Passport.  Ironically I needed less ID for my passport than my Social Insurance Number – they didn’t need my marriage certificate.  Fortunately my passport was up for renewal anyway, so it only cost me the normal amount.
  7. House title.  I’ve still to do that, so I’m not sure what the cost will be.
  8. Then come other important considerations:  car ownership, car insurance, house insurance etc.  These were all free and done at my local AMA office.
  9. Then the minor things – library cards, loyalty reward cards, membership cards. Most of these will be free.
  10. Time share property.  I co-own an overseas timeshare property with my daughter – who is also my executor.  They need original documents AND it will cost approximately $300 to change my name on our joint title.  I will do that on our next visit to the property.

There are probably other things which I haven’t factored in, but I believe these are the most common.  In general, it’s not an expensive undertaking, but it is time-consuming, and here I am, two years after beginning the process, still catching things every so often.

Was it worth it?  I have friends who kept their married names and are perfectly happy about their decisions.  But for me, changing my name has helped me move forward.

One of the last scenes in Shirley Valentine is when her husband passes her on the beach.  She calls out his name and he stops, surprised.
“I didn’t recognise you,” he says.
“I know,” she replies. “I used to be The Mother.  I used to be The Wife.  Now I’m Shirley Valentine again.”

 

It’s That Time of Year Again!

(This post should have gone up at the end of 2018, but better late than never, right?)

Yes, it’s that time of year again when we look back at the year slipping out of sight in our rearview mirror, and view the approaching year with – hopefully – optimism.

Last year we wrote an end-of-year post entitled  Moving forward into the New Year. In it, we decided we would measure, in a tangible way, the frequency of our good and bad days by putting one dime in one of two jars.  The bad days couldn’t be run-of-the-mill bad days – like losing keys, the car not starting or falling down on your a-s  and looking like an idiot while trying to take a photograph.  (True story.)  They had to be bad days specifically connected to our divorce/ex-husbands/feelings of loss and/or failure.

DSC_0390Very quickly, we discovered that we were running out of dimes for our ‘good’ days, so we decided to put dimes in the jars only on our bad days.  And for me personally, although my ex remains inside my head much more than I would like, I was pleasantly surprised to realise I only had eight dimes in my bad day jar.  Some of those days were really bad days.  One involved a visit to my doctor where I just cried my eyes out.  But he was great.  He’s suffered loss himself and advised me that it’s not wrong to grieve.  We only grieve when we lose things that matter.  And my marriage mattered – to me.  The way my husband left me, says everything about him and nothing about me.

Would there have been only eight dimes in the first two years after my husband left me?  Absolutely not.  The jar would have been full to overflowing – and it’s not an exercise we would recommend until you are well into the healing process.  DO NOT DO THIS WHILE YOU ARE FEELING FRAGILE AND LOST.

I can’t promise that there won’t be more than eight dimes next year.  2018 was a really good – and busy – year for me, with lots of travelling and the birth of a granddaughter to fill my life with joy. But looking at those eight dimes laid out on the table in front of me, offers reassurance that I am healing. That I am getting back on my feet.  That life is worth living.

May 2019 bring us all blessings and peace.

Happy New Year.

 

It’s Never Too Late – Week 7 – Vhairi

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Reigniting a Sense of Resilience

At the end of each chapter in Julia Cameron’s book It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, she asks six questions.  Two of them deal with ‘aha’ moments and experiencing synchronicity.

This week, those two things hit me at the same time. Continue reading

It’s Never Too Late – Week 5 – Part 3 – Vhairi

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It’s taken me 3 weeks to finish Chapter Five… but I’ve done it and it’s been an interesting process.

The first week brought me low, the second week I was too busy travelling to commit to completing Julia’s exercises,  but this third week… well, it’s been quite inspiring. Continue reading