The 5 Best and Worst Things When Going Through Divorce
Divorce. Even the word itself is ugh—just yucky. I hate the way it sounds—the finality of it all. But then again, that is what divorce is all about…finalizing the end of a relationship. While I’ve been through my fair share of heartache, of anger, and of closing (rephrase to slamming) the door on a relationship, there’s definitely some things that I didn’t know until I was actually living, breathing, experiencing divorce. Here’s my list of the best and the worst things that divorce brought me:
5 Worst Things When Going Through Divorce
1) Repulsive Rebound. You’re feeling awful—ugly, used, unwanted. Every revolting term he’s every said to you is alive and vibrant in your mind. Sad thing is while you don’t want to believe any of it is true, there’s this nagging feeling of “It must be true, otherwise we wouldn’t be here…” With this comes the projection of your low self worth into other areas of your life. Suddenly you’re not valuable enough for anyone or anything other than the repulsive rebound. It’s going to happen. Whatever. Allow the shudder to go through your body and the “EWWWs” to leave your lips. And then move on—quickly! Pretend this never existed and pray that those around you will too. Take no photographic evidence of this nightmare. And never, under any circumstance, mention the repulsive rebound again. *Shudder*
2) Pretending Everything’s Okay. Your life sucks right now. Embrace that fact. If you don’t, it’s going to get a whole lot worse. When your family asks how you are, be honest. Share with those you trust. There’s no need to become this martyr of divorce. Think about your own advice that you’ve given to your friends in need. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Telling your friends or sibling or whoever that you’re there for them blah, blah, blah. Now is your turn to show them that you trust them enough to let them in on your life. And you know what? You’re going to feel better if you let them in. If you have kids, keep your emotions about your soon-to-be-ex to yourself. This is really hard, but extremely necessary. They are getting divorced here too, except they didn’t get to decide whether or not it would happen. If you don’t keep your mouth shut, it will bite you in the butt in the end. You. Not your ex, but you. Trust me, I know.
3) Inner cynic. Suddenly every “happy” couple or family is going to irritate the crap out of you. You’re going to wonder why your once so-put-together family can’t be like that. Every self-righteous thought you ever had about how “perfect” your family was before the divorce will be at the forefront of your mind. You will wonder if it’s karma taking hold, if you should’ve been more understanding with what your single parent friends were experiencing, if you somehow brought everything upon yourself. The inner cynic sucks. You get to decide whether you dismiss the inner cynic or learn from it. Learning empathy toward different kinds of families, realizing my way is not the “right” way—it’s just my way, and there’s a shared responsibility of divorce are a few things my inner cynic has taught me. Eventually parts of your inner cynic will dissipate—notice I said parts. If it ever entirely leaves, please let me know how you were able to accomplish this. I’m still working on it… And know this—no one has the “perfect” family. Everyone has their problems, their issues—just can’t see it from the outside. Whenever you start feeling agitated around the Brady Bunch, know they are more than likely dealing with their own set of quandaries. Yours just happen to be out there in the open, but only for the moment.
4) Pity peeps. Seriously. Your family and friends are going to start looking at you with pity all over their faces. They can’t help it. So get used to their heads tilted toward the right, worry filling their eyes, and sighs coming out of their mouths with every other breath that they take. It’s annoying. It’s frustrating. It’s not going to change. Do what I did—shake your head, roll your eyes just a bit, and tell them you don’t need their pity. Shoulder to lean on, extra tissue at times, and patience—absolutely! Pity—not so much. Try to remember they are going through the divorce too. Marriage, relationships, is not merely about two people. Friends, family, kids—everyone was a part of it. And now it’s over. They all need to grieve as well, and honestly, you don’t give a crap about their needs right now (except for your kids, I hope…). Think of their pity as their way of trying to comfort you and deal with the loss at the same time. Hang in there—this will change in a few years (sorry, but it does take forever).
5) The silence. The lack of noise, in the beginning, will be a cause for additional waterworks. The familiar sounds of the lawn mower in the front yard on a Saturday morning, kids wrestling in the living room with the ex, and the flushing of the toilet when you’re not in there will no longer be present. Unless you’re making the noise, there isn’t any. You’ll notice the sounds of the house late at night, and sometimes be scared. Start turning on your stereo (totally dating myself here) or iPod thingy, leave timers on your T.V., and be okay with talking to yourself out loud. Eventually the silence will be a gift from God—I promise.
5 Best Things When Going Through Divorce
1) Shopping for new clothes. Let’s face it—the greatest thing about divorce will be the pounds you are about to shed. They will fall off of your body with no rhyme or reason. Your clothing will no longer fit you. Think of it as the Divorce Diet—except you do get to eat and will drink more wine than you’ve consumed in quite some time. Granted money’s tight. With that being said, it’s time to get out your Kohl’s cash, Kohl’s discount scratch (I’m praying for the 30% for you), and your credit card need be. After all, they are paying you to shop. Your size 10s will be tossed to the side, and suddenly you’re fitting into a size 6. This will make you happy and it is okay to look in the mirror, smile (maybe even whistle), and appreciate the hot mama that’s in front of you. And yes, it will feel great when you arrive in court looking better than you have in years. Work it, girl!
2) The relief. When the agreements have been made, the papers have been signed, and the fighting is on its way to once in awhile compared to once every hour—that’s when the relief sets in. Granted there will be times, many times, when you still want to rip the head off of your ex but those times become fewer and further between. There’s this sense of liberation that coincides with little things—like having a bowl of Frosted Flakes for dinner, watching ESPN because you want to, changing the car’s oil (alright, this was a stretch—but taking the car to get the oil changed)—all the little stuff that created arguments in the past are now pleasant tasks. The relief of having the license to be you again. The relief of knowing your kids can understand that unhealthy relationships don’t have to be tolerated—even when it’s the most difficult choice that needed to be made. The relief felt in your heart, in your mind, in your body. The relief no one possibly understands other than yourself, because no one experienced the dynamics of that mess other than you. Take a deep breath. Relief. Finally, some relief.
3) The silence. You are no longer obligated to answer your cell phone when he’s calling you. Take a moment. Listen. Ahhh. There’s no fighting, no slamming doors, no tension in the air that wants to mount you like a three-peckered bill goat. If you have kids, the silence will happen on weekends or every other week or whatever schedule you and your ex create. Enjoy the silence. Lord knows you’ve probably earned it.
4) The clean house. You will no longer see his socks spewed all over the house or have to pick up after his mess. The toilet seat will remain in the correct position, and your bootie will never have to fall into the cold water at 3 am because SOMEONE left the seat up AGAIN. Dishes in the sink? I don’t think so. Searching for the remote? Oh, no—not any more. Look, it’s right where I left it! Piles and piles of laundry? Nope—and that’s not a new outfit, it was found at the bottom of the basket. And that god-awful painting by your sister-in-law that had to be hung up in the living room? Yeah, take that right out the door with you. No, my friend, the house or apartment or sister’s basement that you are now in will be all yours. Of course, if you have kids, the clean house will only appear on weekends or every other week or whatever schedule you and your ex create. Whatever. Having a clean house for more than 10 minutes is now yours. Bask in it.
5) Finding you. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably lost yourself somewhere along the way. Remember the girl that laughed? The girl that was fun to be around? Remember the girl that liked to do new things—whether it was finding a new path to hike on, writing because you enjoyed it, taking a class because it sounded interesting? Yeah, that girl. Find her again. She’s still in there, just has been in hibernation mode for a bit. Make new friends—and it’s easier than it sounds. These days there are great sites like Meetup.com that aren’t for finding some creepy guy to fill your time. You can meet people that have the same interests as you—join a book club, wine-tasting club, or hiking club. Enough of your time has been wasted being unhappy. Now’s the time to rediscover yourself. And if you have kids, no worries. There are groups that meet with kids, specific to their ages. Allow them to see the fun mommy that they need and probably are missing too. No more time in the chair or in bed with a box of tissue. Find yourself—I bet you’re an amazing person!
Divorce does suck and I hope that no one thinks I’m making light of it. There are times when I look at my children and wish that things could’ve been different for them. I hope one day they understand why I’ve made some of the choices I did, and learn from the poor choices I made. Notice I didn’t say accept my choices or agree with my choices, just understand why I made those choices. At the end of the day, I like who I am. And I know that I would’ve never become the person I am today without letting go of the chains that bound me.
Meredith is a mom, sister, wife, friend, teacher, critic, Starbucks junkie, writer, coach, and a million other things. She enjoys writing about the good, scary, funny, sad, exciting and all those other truths that too many people are afraid to write about. You can find her blog at http://merelovesthepack.blogspot.com or on Twitter: @FmTheSidelines.