January is reportedly divorce month, as lawyers notice a sharp increase in divorce filings at the start of the year. Many people grin and bear it throughout the holidays; the goal was to reach 2013 and start the divorce process first thing in January. If you fall into this group, you are not alone.
For me, this means my phone will buzz a few extra times this month because I have somehow emerged as the town Divorce Welcome Wagon. You might have moved into a new dwelling and experienced a welcome wagon, either through a packet of coupons and flyers that arrive in the mail or perhaps a ladies auxiliary pay you a visit. The goal is to welcome you and hopefully provide information on assimilating into the community. Individuals who are divorcing need such a welcome.
As our local Divorce Welcome Wagon, every once in a while I get a call from an acquaintance to have lunch. Usually I know them socially from the pool club or maybe the soccer fields. I hope they are reaching out because they want a new friend (and I am an awesome friend) or maybe they want advice on entering a PhD program as part of a mid-life crisis like I did. But unfortunately, before our lunch orders are even taken, I usually find my lunch date sobbing that they are getting a divorce. I am one of the first people they tell before most family and friends. I consider the confidence they place in me a great honor and I take it very seriously.
They have reached out to me, because they know that I weathered the divorce storm in our very small community. They want reassurances that they will be ok, their children will be ok and that there is at least some chance they will find happiness at the end of the insanity they have correctly imagined will ensue. They know I have been through the war and came out on the other side, and they want details on how I survived.
I always start out with the same line that was imparted to me at the start of my divorce process: "Getting divorced sucks, being divorced does not suck."
It doesn't matter the reason for your divorce; even if you are running at top speed out of your marriage shouting "yipeeee!!!," getting divorced still sucks. This is true for many many reasons. A divorce is a death of a marriage. No matter how horrible the marriage was, you will mourn the loss of it. You may have been dumped, cheated on or lied to, but you will still grieve. While you may have moved on in your personal life, there are times when you will be sad. Divorce also sucks because it feels as if the legal system is creeping into your life and setting up shop -- permanently. Every single nook and cranny of your life is examined; every financial aspect is put under a microscope. Honestly, it is like being audited by the IRS. You need to look into a crystal ball and determine how you want to live a new life that you can't even possibly imagine because you are grieving the loss of the one you thought was going to be around forever. So, be warned, it is horrible. But being divorced does not suck.
I need to tell you first and foremost that you will be OK. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you exactly how that is going to happen. Just as each marriage, and the demise of each marriage, is different, so is every divorce, and so is every post-divorce life. Honestly, I don't know any divorcee that wants their marriage back. Most people realize that they are much happier post-divorce. Even if they thought they were happily married, they come to realize that they really were not.You will get to this point -- that I can promise.
Second, your children will also be OK. My therapist was the one who put this in perspective for me. The fact that your children come from a divorced family will be a very small piece of their directory information; it is just a label and that label does not define who they really are on the inside. My children were born superstars and so were yours; just because their parents are getting divorced doesn't mean they aren't superstars anymore.
Regardless of the support system you have in your life, you need a good therapist. Finding a therapist is like finding a nursery school for your kids; when you visit, you feel safe and that you belong. ou need to be willing to get psychologically naked with your therapist and that will take a high level of comfort. This comfort is critical because the only way to work on yourself and heal from the loss of divorce is to share every intimate detail. I found my therapist through a friend, you can also ask your general doctor and your divorce attorney for recommendations.
In keeping with my commitment to painful honesty, you will lose friends. People today don't know what the heck to do when a couple splits up. Either they stay friends with one member of the couple or dump both of you. I found out the hard way who my friends were and realized very quickly that I didn't have many real ones. And that was actually OK, because I wound up with a few gems. Furthermore, your divorce, and your decision to divorce, will be tried in the court of the gossip and public opinion, and you may find your "friends" playing judge and jury. Women, some of whom I considered to be very close friends, were vicious with their judgment, spreading lies and rumors. It was horrifying but eye opening at the same time. It was painful to lose friends.
Those are the highlights of my first conversation with these extraordinary women. I never expected to be a source for divorce support, but I am up to the task. I'm happy to report that after all is said and done, these women come out of their own divorces a little stronger and wiser, and knowing that I helped them through the turmoil is very rewarding.
If you are going through a divorce and don't think anyone will understand, reach out to a divorced friend. I bet you will find a very strong heart ready and willing to open to you.
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