Being in the middle of a divorce myself, I've recently had a lot of friends reach out and confide that they're either considering a divorce or in the beginning stages of separation. I recognized a lot of the fears and worries I hear from them as fears and worries of my own from a year ago, when I reached out to a friend who had gone through it and confided in her. And while I am far from an expert, I thought maybe a blog post on the subject would maybe at least make others feel a little less lonely on their divorce journey. If you're happily married, this isn't the blog post you're gonna want to read. Seriously. We're all happy for you, but...you're gonna want to turn back now.
You're Not a Failure Because of a Failed Marriage
Oh. My. God. Let's start here, because if I see one more sickeningly condescending Facebook post about how "marriage worked in our grandparents' day because they fixed broken things instead of throwing them out" I'm going to Hulk smash my freaking phone. That's awesome and all, but maybe not everyone is a master carpenter or Ms. Fucking Fixit, and they just end up with a house full of unusable junk. Marriages "worked" 70 years ago because women were property, dude. What's she gonna do if she's unhappy, go get a job and support herself?
El oh el.
Look, we're all just human, going through life on a pretty strict trial and error basis. Things aren't going to work out perfectly every single time we take on a lifelong commitment. Shocker, right? And maybe you're the exception and found the 1 person out of a planet stuffed with billions that is meant for you (or 1 out of billions that you can tolerate, which sounds less romantic but more feasible) and you're in it until death do you part. If so, that's awesome. Way to go, enjoy your relationship, be happy by all means, but shut the sanctimonious fuck up about how "marriage is hard work but we toil in the matrimony fields gladly." Maybe some of us are looking for a life that...I don't know, doesn't feel so much like work?
People Are Gonna Talk
Oh boy, are people gonna talk. Even if you vow to maintain a strict code of dignity and demure coyness when confronted by errant gossip, people will make up their own shitty narrative and pass it around like patient zero at a chicken pox party. Be prepared to find out who your friends are, and who in your life is just a toxic idiot with no self control.
You'll probably be surprised about the things you hear about yourself and your marriage, too. If you're the one who initiated, don't be surprised to find out that the cold splash of divorce papers on your partner's reality brings out the worst in them, and they start spreading around psychotic lies in a last ditch effort to save face or discredit your character. All you can really do is let it roll off your back, and trust that the truth shall set you free. Or at least, handcuffs definitely won't, so don't burn their house down or anything.
Not Everything Deserves a Reaction From You
In fact, most things probably don't. This can be the most difficult thing to master, but learning to hold your tongue is a vital part of surviving divorce. I try to stick to a 12 hour minimum of processing anger and frustration before deciding if a response is absolutely necessary. Will it change anything, or will it just lead to more arguing? Will it help the situation, or hurt? Does it need to be said, or do I just need to be right? Is it coming from a place of peace, or anger?
Make your peace a priority. Above all, give yourself that gift. If it costs you your peace, it's too expensive. Learn to let things go as a kindness to yourself, and don't give others your time and energy unless they truly earned it. Life is too short to waste on people and situations that drain you.
This, Too, Is a Gift
It might not feel like it right now, but divorce is a huge gift. If you aren't the partner who initiated, you might feel betrayed, hurt, scared, maybe even devastated. Those are all valid and real feelings, and you have every right to them. Feel the hell out of them, cry, rage, scream into a pillow, and do whatever you need to do (not burning a house down, see above) to process them. If you are the partner who wanted to get a divorce, you might be feeling a strange mixture of relief and guilt, fear, or panic. Feel what you feel, and get through it. Even if you feel like the worst human on earth to cause your partner pain like this, understand that in some way, you're giving them a tremendous gift. You're getting divorced because it's the right thing for you. No happy, stable marriage on earth every ended due to spontaneous divorce. It comes from somewhere, and you're going to be better for it. Maybe not today, or next month, or even next year, but trust that something is coming. Something bigger and better than you ever imagined for yourself. Your life is too precious to spend with someone who isn't right for you.
You'll Get to Know Yourself All Over Again
You might be finding that after divorce, you aren't entirely sure who you are anymore. Being in an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage can change you as a person, and it might be shocking to realize that you're a stranger to yourself. Embrace the fuck out of this. Create and live the life you want, as the person you want to be. Make change and enrichment the name of the game, and go after happiness with a "death or glory" attitude. An enormous chapter of your life has closed, and whatever comes after it is up to you. Make it an epic. Make it a comic book. Make it a torrid romance with a filthy cover, if that's what you want. Just make it undeniably, completely you.
If you're going through a divorce or separation or breakup, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook at any time! And don't be afraid to create your own support group within your friends, even if no one else knows yet. While you're re-creating yourself, focus on making "not afraid to ask for help" a core part of your you-ness. Trust me, your friends love you and want to help. And it'll probably surprise you just how much they love you. I have a text from a friend saved that she probably doesn't even know means so much to me. It says, "I have a feeling there isn't much in this world that can take you out." And I look at it every damn day. People rock, if you give them the opportunity to do so.