08/26/2011 08:00 pm ET | Updated Oct 13, 2014

Dealing With The Rough Ride Of Divorce

by D.Jiang via Getty Images

Here's the deal. I am a first timer at divorce so please don't think of me as any expert or a qualified advice giver. Everyone's situation is different. I am just grappling with mine and sharing my experience. I am giving you a sincere reading from where I stand. I am navigating my way as best I can. If you can relate to anything I write and it offers some comfort, then it's a good read and that's all we can hope for.

I am nine months in since the divorce settlement and being forced to sell our family house that we raised our children in. I literally did "move on" to an apartment and put all those wonderful years in boxes. That was hard. I did attempt to re-create my children's rooms in my new apartment with some of the charm of their things from home, but it's not the same. No one's getting fooled that this is the room they grew up in. It's all so different. Never mind that they are young adult children and dreaming about their own place anyway but still, everyone wants a home to "go home" to. I can hear the chorus chanting, "Move On," and I am telling myself, too, Come On, Giddyup Girl, Move dat hawse on down the road! Sentimentality, nostalgia, and any more thoughts of "what just happened?" are about as useful as a horse kicking me in the teeth.

The most popular divorce advice I have heard is, "Move on." I have nodded my head up and down for months, until I found my head shaking from left to right because it's not covering it. The expectation is that you can "move on" just like that. What is really happening is that you are being tested to see how well you deal with trauma, upheaval, being betrayed by someone you trusted. Anyone who has dealt with trauma knows what I am talking about. You don't "move on," you deal.

One great aspect about radical change is the distraction of all the new activity. There are a myriad of new tasks that began with packing up the house, moving, deciding what to store, what to give away and sell, then the unpacking boxes and putting things into place in the apartment. Things don't fit, more into storage, hang pictures, price out curtain rods, put them up. Cleaning out clothes, going to consignment shops, giving things away. It's endless, so time consuming. All this business gloriously kept my attention occupied while my insides tried ever so arduously to deal with the trauma of it all. The advice to "keep busy," not that I had a choice, does help while you process.

As the activity slowed down, there are a few "a-ha" moments. One big one that people said so often but that took some quieting down for me to see is that it's not about me. Which of course seems to contradict that my husband left and went off with someone else. He made a change by leaving but he left with all his demons. I remained and have been forced to deal with all this change but inside I am still. I am still me.

Divorce gives you a chance to see what you are made of and how strong you are. To use the metaphor of moving, you do clear out a lot of things you don't need. You pare down to the essential you, to your essential truth. When you arrive to find that what you really care about is family and being there for each other through thick and thin, yes, it is perplexing. How ironic that I, who believed in our marriage, and family, and being their for my partner, now have to instill those values to our children on my own. Hmm, how does that work?

Divorce forces into motion very trying and painful situations that arise and get imposed upon you, especially with the weirdness of there being another woman. The awkward presence of this foreign intruder, whose entrance into our lives brought on a bizarre turn of events, makes us all feel uncomfortable. Some large blinders are needed to avoid that. Before any of this happened and for most of my life really I think I had assumed that everybody is deep down trying to do the right thing and be nice. It is the belief system I learned growing up both from my parents and from the schools I went to that promoted that. I have come to understand by experience that unfortunately the reverse is also true. If people have the capacity to be cruel, they will be. People have different scales of right and wrong.

There will be shifts in all your relationships. Divorce affects everyone around you. Everyone in your life has to do some adjusting along with you. You learn what people stand for, what is okay with them, what their values are, what matters to them. You rediscover all of that for yourself, too. Divorce strips you down to your naked self. The rawness does make you feel alive. You have heightened appreciation for the kindness of friends. You are never more grateful for those who allow you to feel any way you feel, as you work through this hard process. Tears do stop eventually. After so much drama you just want peace. You can hear birds chirp and feel the warmth of the shining sun. I try to catch myself every time I whimper and replace, "I didn't want this," with "Move it!" and go for a walk.

I love to walk and hike. It's meditation for me. I have walked this divorce into the ground. I walk through the terrain of my life. Thoughts blow off like leaves from the back of a truck. What about all those cards he wrote me. "You are the love of my life," "My soul mate," "I will love you forever and always." Why write those things if you didn't mean it? Walk. What was he hiding all this time? Did he always hide things? Was he so good at lying that I didn't see it? What else did he lie about? Walk. What was he planting in the soil of our marriage? Walk it off. Move way down the road from those thoughts.

You do move on. You have to. You want to! You have new things to deal with and you will get through them. Those storage bins will get cleared out before the year's end! Jobs will emerge to pay the bills. The kids will go here and go there. They will cope with the divorce of their parents because they have to. Friendships will adjust. New friendships will be made. Life goes on. The road is rough. Everybody gets that. Deal with it. Get back on the horse and ride. There's a big, beautiful prairie out yonder and there are plenty of sunsets to ride off into yet.