RUNAWAY HUSBANDS: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal by Vikki Stark.
I love this book. It was my ‘bible’ in those first few months after my husband walked out on me, assuring me I was not alone, and talking me through the healing process. Even now, two years later, I’ll pick it up, and read through a few pages. There’s always something in there that helps me see how far I’ve come, in both practical and emotional ways, but still acknowledges the hurt and loss that will probably – to some extent – always be with me.
Written by a therapist, who was blindsided when she found herself in the same situation as so many of us, she gathered together the stories and thoughts of over 400 women who had also been abandoned. Patterns emerge throughout the book, both of pain and healing. You – and we – are not alone. Other women have walked this path before us. Their stories are painfully recognizable… and their healing and transformation inspiring. Continue reading
Now that the “battle” is over (I have been officially divorced ten months), I have my future in my own hands: I have a life to live, a future to embrace. Right? Well, maybe not exactly quite there yet.
I had thought I was coming to grips with the rejection and grief that official court-signed document had delivered when I first read the words: Certificate of Divorce. Yet more and more I realize I have been withdrawing into myself. Was I depressed? Yes. Was I anxious about this wide-open future? Absolutely terrified, to be honest and still am. I’ve been taking a mild anti-depressant for over a year now and that helped me to stop bursting into tears at little or even no provocation, but the grief over the death of my marriage, the fact that money is a constant worry. No little pill can make any of that go away.
I was drifting further and further into the hinterland of aloneness, staying home, not answering letters, turning down coffee meets with friends, even family. I’d say I was busy, but the truth was I just couldn’t get out of my misery and into the world. I didn’t want to hear one more person tell me that I’m better off without him. I know that but why can’t I get over the stupid, senseless grief? Continue reading
My mum was sixty-three when my dad died. She lived on an isolated island, my siblings and I between 3-24 hours travel distance away. Ever the mother, she didn’t want us to worry about her, so, despite her great grief, she did three things to keep herself healthy.
1) She tried to eat well even though she had no appetite.
2) Come rain or come shine, she went for a walk every day along the beach, sometimes barely able to see as her tears mixed with the rain soaking her face. Continue reading
By the time a settlement was reached, almost four years from the start, I had retained three lawyers and spent a staggering amount of money on legal fees. In Canada, for the most part, a divorce can be accomplished with minimal use of lawyers, a do-it-yourself kind of thing. If I had known then what I know now….no, I would still retain a lawyer, but I would also be more aware of just what a lawyer can and cannot do.
Each of my lawyers was capable and supportive. They all followed procedure, trying to get everything in place within the guidelines of divorce law to bring us to an agreement for the division of assets. However, my husband did not want to come to an agreement; he wanted his idea of an agreement or none at all. He refused to disclose his assets. The next three years were an endless trail of emails, phone calls, court orders, even mediation. No settlement, not even close. Continue reading
According to the ‘experts’ the top five most stressful life experiences are:
1) Death of a spouse: 100.
2) Divorce: 73.
3) Marital separation: 65.
4) Imprisonment: 63.
5) Death of a close family member: 63.
I disagree, and I believe that any woman who has been abandoned will agree with me.
Here are my top four.
1) Death of a child
2) Divorce due to being abandoned.
3) Death of a spouse.
4) Death of a close family member.
Even at my lowest point, I knew that my husband’s walking out on me was not the worst thing that could happen to me. As a parent, my worst nightmare – my absolute worst nightmare – is something happening to either of my kids, even though they are now adults. No question.
That realisation was both reassuring and frightening, because in those dark black moments when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through, the knowledge that I could experience something even more painful was… terrifying.
The thing about a beloved spouse dying is, yes you will grieve, but deep down amongst all that pain and anguish you know – you know for sure – that you were loved. You know your spouse did not choose to leave you. And although you may weep when you look at old family albums, they conjure up only happy memories of a life and family shared together. When you talk about your spouse with your children, the memories will be happy and your family, though missing a member, will be intact.
When your husband walks out on you, you have none of those certainties or assurances to comfort you. In every other way, your husband is now dead – to you at least – but he’s still walking the streets, he’s still living his life, loving the woman he left you for, and, unless you live in another city, you run the risk that you might run in to them, hand in hand, at any time.
To be lied to and discarded, leaves you feeling not just alone and broken, but worthless. What value can you have as a human being, if the man you loved – the person you believed was your soulmate – could discard you and your life together so easily?
Looking at old photos doesn’t bring reassurance and happy memories of a life shared. Instead it brings doubts and questions. If he told me he loved me every single day of our lives until the day he walked out, did he ever really love me, or was it all one big lie? That picture, where he has his arms around me and we’re smiling at each other, taken just months before he left, was he thinking of her even then?
No, the death of a spouse is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Not even the second worst. When your spouse abandons you, it’s going to take time to grieve. I’ve heard a statistic that it can take one year for every decade of your marriage, if not more. So don’t let anyone – least of all yourself – underestimate the depth of that grief or how long it will take you to get back on your feet.
But please remember this – you will get better.