With the advantage of hindsight, I can see that the breakup of my marriage was a transformative experience for me. The upheaval, coming like a bolt from the blue and feeling like hell, jolted me back to life and forced me to begin afresh. It shook me out of the fog I had been living in for years and liberated me in the process.
I was in my mid-forties, married for twenty years with three children, when I learned my wife was having an affair. I was knocked sideways, torn open like a tin can. Divorce was not in my script at all, so when I saw my marriage crumbling beyond repair I was totally disoriented.
Betrayal in the form of adultery is always painful. In my case, its exceptional power lay in the fact that it reawakened my deepest emotions: my wife was rejecting me in much the same way I felt my mother had "rejected" me by dying when I was ten years old. In effect the situation that resulted was similar, only this time it touched the core of my being.
My whole life disintegrated. My family was in tatters; I was no longer a husband (except on paper) or life-partner and was battling to remain a father. I lost all sense of who I was as my confidence plummeted. I felt completely deskilled instead of the reasonably competent person I had been. Every one of my accounts was called in - I stood naked at the counter of life. Most of all, I felt emasculated and impotent. For me this was loss on a grand scale and the pain was severe.
My growing frustration with both my professional and my personal life led me to seek help before the real crisis broke. Now I needed therapy desperately. And for the next few years I brought the saga unfolding at home to therapy, where I struggled to make sense of it and to face the changes it demanded: urgent need for a new map of the territory and a new compass. Knowing this did not make accommodation to my situation easy; it was a long, hard road.
Ultimately, however, I was able to use the crisis to turn my life around. The therapy helped me to rebuild my confidence, to start believing in myself and to put myself center-stage. I shed a lot of my emotional armor and began to develop a greater awareness of my feelings. This fundamentally changed the way I functioned, shifting me from being 'in my head' to being 'in my heart' more; from looking out to looking inward. I slowly came to realize that "It's all in me" -- we see the world as we are, not as it is.
My new perspective allowed me to feel at ease with myself and more comfortable in my relationships with other people. I moved from feeling weak and powerless to feeling passionate and powerful. All in all, I emerged from the turmoil as a revitalized man, with the whiff of freedom my nostrils.
While in the throes of divorce, I was sure my days of despair would never end. But inadvertently my breakup crisis -- the proverbial 'kick in the butt' - launched me into my present, and best, phase of my life. Although I would not recommend divorce as a way to improve your life, I have no doubt my divorce, despite or perhaps because of its travails, transformed me.