Diary of a divorcee: from grief to reflection to liberation

January 31 2018 | Guest post by M
Diary of a Divorcee: from grief to reflection to liberation
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I've recently gone through a separation and have documented my feelings through it all, from the grief to the reflection to the liberation. Here's my story…

Divorce & liberation

I only started dating when I was 19. I was so shy in school that the thought of even talking to a boy made me sweat and panic. I was always a dependent person; dependent on my parents to get me places (as I was terrified to drive), dependent on my friends to make plans, which then turned to dependence on my boyfriends… once I got over my fears and started dating.

I'm also a hopeless romantic and always fantasized that my relationships would be like Ethan Embry and Jennifer Love Hewitt's in Can't Hardly Wait. I don't know if it was because I got my hopes up with every new guy that came along that I became so enthralled and made them feel smothered. As a result they would all cheat on me, or maybe I just had a way of picking the assholes, or maybe in their early 20s they didn't want to take our relationship seriously. Whatever it was, the cycle of lust-love-heartbreak was not healthy. I thought, at 22, that I'd found the one who I could finally trust with my heart. Fast forward nine years later and that has proven untrue.

Here I am at 31, a single divorcee — a feeling I truly haven't experienced since before I was 19. And you know what? It's a liberating feeling! Over the time of my marriage I had to teach myself to be independent due to my spouse's work schedule (read: reason for divorce). I never knew that it was actually preparing me for this! Also, being single as a true adult is more fun than when you're a teen or in your early 20s. I can be responsible OR not whenever I want. First and foremost, I can be me. I don't have to worry if my spouse will be jealous of me talking to one of my guy friends of 10 years or make me feel guilty for grabbing a drink with him.

Best of all though, I see how much I've changed and grown over the years. Someone I knew in high school just told me recently how proud they were of me that I didn't stand for my spouse's shit and that the high school me would have put up with it. I was insulted at first but she was so right.

As I look back on my marriage, I have no regrets. If anything I'm thankful it helped me grow into who I am and lead me to independence and liberation in my 30s. It gave me my wonderful house, dog, and support network. I can look back knowing I gave it my absolute best and that life has better things in store for me.

Angrrrr

Ah yes, the stages of grief. I love it when people point out that I'll be going through those or better yet the wannabe "psychologists" around me who, when I'm feeling sad or angry or regretful, diagnose me with being in such and such a stage. Pointing out these things to me DOESNT FUCKING HELP doesn't make my pain or feelings any better. While we're being all theoretical though, the one stage I have found myself stuck in is anger. There are years of that built up in there. Frankly, I don't know what to do with it. Anger that he forced me to make this decision, anger that he supposedly loved me but couldn't show it to me or our life, anger that for the past nine years I've been trying to live his dream and not mine.

And now I feel guilty for being happy, keeping the house, moving on too soon. I'm proud of myself for everything I've done but I'm scared at the same time because this isn't the me I know or am used to. I'm the one who puts up with shit, who does everything for everyone else, who makes stupid decisions. We'll call that person the old Me. The new Me is independent, ballsy, confident, and respected. Well, we're working on that last one, but someday.

What is love?

It was easy to trust him when we started dating because we had been friends for three years. It was so easy to just fall in love without a worry. I knew he was a good guy, I knew what he was like in relationships, I knew his family. It was easy, and I think looking back, that's why it happened. It is so easy to fall in love with someone and I think that's why a lot of people fall in love with the wrong person. You start to care for someone because they care about you, you get invested in their life, and then you become a part of it. Soon you're too engulfed in it to be able to walk away when you realize it's not what you wanted or expected.

How do you know in the beginning if it's right? My image of love and relationships are so different now to the point where I don't know if I ever was in love. Did I just love him because he started off as my friend and I cared for him in that way? Because of all this doubt in my mind now, I'm terrified of trusting people. Even my friends I feel I can't trust. I trusted him with my heart for nine years and he took advantage. Why should I trust anyone ever again?

Expectations

It's hard living in a world with so many expectations. And when you succumb to them, you create your own messed up expectations of your life, your partner, your family, and even yourself. I think that's where we went wrong, or at least I did anyway. I expected a 50/50 partner, and quite possibly a 60/40 partner as I was raised with the belief that the male was the breadwinner and provider. I expected that rom-com kind of love where as soon as the husband comes home, he gives his wife a big kiss and thanks her for dinner. And at bed time, another kiss followed by "I love you." Needless to say it wasn't like that. Probably because I was expected to provide the nice, home cooked dinners every night and it was always taken for granted. Maybe I didn't thank him enough for providing for us just like he never thanked me.

Now I'm free of expectations that are not being met. It's so freeing. My only expectations are that my sweet pup will give me unconditional love and cuddles and he never lets me down. That's the best kind of partner there is.

Half of a year

Exactly six months ago at this time, I was probably trying to fall asleep with a deep sense of loneliness and emptiness. Hoping he'd come over to my side of the bed to kiss me good night or cuddle, even for a little while. Imagining when I would be spending time with him next and thinking it would be wonderful. This routine became normal and I hated the constant feeling of being let down but felt trapped, thinking I had no other options.

Had I known that was the last night we'd spend in the same room together, what would I have done? There's a difference between what I would have done and what I would've liked to do. I would've liked us to look back on our past in a positive light, sharing stories and memories of the good times we shared, and mutually agreeing that that was the best choice… though I'm sure all couples wish for that.

Someone told me that they heard it takes nine months to get over someone. I thought that was so rude of them to say. No one can tell you how long it will take. It's up to each individual on how they grieve and for how long. Well, I'm six months out and you know what? Maybe they weren't wrong.

  1. Firstly, I have to say GREAT JOB putting your needs equal with those of your ex; it sounds like that was hard for you, as it was for me.

    The anger. Oh, the anger. And in my case piles of resentment, as well.

    " …the one stage I have found myself stuck in is anger. There are years of that built up in there. Frankly, I don't know what to do with it. Anger that he forced me to make this decision, anger that he supposedly loved me but couldn't show it to me or our life…"

    I have been working to let go of the anger and resentment, because in reality, they do me no good. They don't make things "fair", they don't change anyone's opinion of the situation or its outcome or me or him. They don't change what I went through, what I actually subjected *myself* to for not leaving earlier. They don't change the past, or my perception of the past. The anger and resentment only hurt ME. They keep me from being the loving and trusting person I know myself to be (with others in my life).

    My therapist said something amazing. She said that I can continue with the resentment and anger and just sort of wait for them to go away, or I can turn those feelings into *pity* (which leads down the road to forgiveness). Because as angry as I am about having my needs neglected for so long, in reality, I'm the one moving away from that and *he is the one stuck in it*. He's stuck with himself for the rest of his life, but I'm not. If he can't see his bad behavior, he's not going to take the action to change. Poor thing, honestly – it's got to be so hard not knowing you're like that. And poor thing, to whoever ends up with him after me, because she's got a long road ahead of her. Meanwhile, I learned, I saw what was making me stay stuck in a loop of someone else's selfishness, and I have already moved on with bettering myself.

    Honestly, this is a constant exercise (shifting anger to pity). Half the time, I forget to shift it. Or it shifts right back into anger. But it's a process, as all of this is. Hopefully this approach can help anyone else <3 Thank you for sharing your story.

    3 agree
    • Hi Morgan, thank you SO much for taking the time to respond. I was pretty terrified of posting something so personal but I thought it may help people going through a similar situation to know that they are not alone, as am I to know that you can relate to my post!
      You (and your therapist) are very right about the anger. I've definitely tried the pity thing and like you said, it is a constant exercise! I can only hope it becomes easier with time. Thank you for reminding me to see things this way and thank you for reading!

      1 agrees
  2. Glad to hear you are liberated! It sounds like that was definitely an unhealthy relationship, and I am glad you are enjoying living your life now!

    Just wanted to add tho, mostly for other readers, that having very different work schedules does not always equal a reason for divorce. It sounds like that was a symptom of bigger problems for you and your ex, but it’s all about the people involved and how they handle it. For some couples, although it can be challenging, it is totally navigatable.

    Also, and I think this was what you meant, but just to clarify – you shouldn’t have to be single to be able to hang out with your guy friends! Hopefully your next partner will not have those kind of jealousy issues (and if they do, that’s a red flag!)

    4 agree
    • Hi Alyssa, thank you for clarifying. You are very right, some couples can work through having different work schedules and can (and should!) have friends of the opposite sex. There were definitely many layers that contributed to our separation and I only mentioned a handful. Thank you for posting!

      1 agrees

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