What happens when two unhealed individuals decide to partner up and attempt to do things differently then their parents did? They remain stuck in their woundedness. The unhealthy patterns and toxic traits get buried underneath responsibilities, bills, schedules…life. There isn’t enough time, energy or money to get out from underneath all of it and the ancestral pattern repeats itself.
Right around the time that the idea of the demise of our marriage began to seep out of our subconsciousness and into our reality, I read a book. This book “suggested” that divorce does not necessarily have to be the end of the world. I truly believed that there was a strong possibility that we would be able to sift through the mess, find and maintain, all of the pieces of us that were good at being kind, compassionate, and friendly to one another.
Nobody tells you that even though you and your ex-husband promise to do divorce differently…stay friends and co-parent like bosses, that the further you get away from your marriage, the more permanent and final the divorce becomes, that idealism will disintegrate.
Nobody tells you, that even though you are convinced it will be easier because your children are a bit on the older side, that it is actually harder. They are more opinionated and stuck in their ways. They have their own “stuff” that they are trying to work through and come to terms with. Coming to your new home, as the parenting plan designed, is an inconvenience and a chore. All of a sudden, you are faced with “empty nest” syndrome…about four years too early. There is no slow trickle of independence and separation…the damn breaks lose and unleashes a torrent of excruciating sorrow upon your already broken heart. Never, in a million years, did you imagine that walking away from your marriage would result in your children walking away from you. That was not part of the plan or the agreement. “Losing” your children will be the salt in the wound that almost destroys you.
Nobody tells you that the “friends” and family who support you so fiercely in the beginning of this journey, are just secretly hoping that this miniature breakdown or mid-lifeish crisis is temporary. They just want to help you get over it, as quickly as possible, so that their lives can go back to “normal”. They are too busy taking your actions or inactions personally, when in reality, it is ultimately the paralyzing fear of additional rejection and loss that is to blame for your reticence and distance. Meanwhile, you are curled up in fetal position, waiting for the dust to settle…wondering whose side they will choose. FYI, the ones that “don’t pick sides”, chose the other guy. And nobody can prepare you for the crushing devastation of their eventual betrayal and abandonment.
Nobody tells you that you will be treated as though divorce is a highly contagious disease. It is almost as though people are afraid if they come into contact with or associate with you, that they will be next. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of judgmental, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bullshit you will have to deal with. Nothing.
Divorce is utter devastation. Even when it is your choice. Even when it is the right choice.
Here I am, over half a decade away from the beginning of the end and I can still see and feel the aftershocks. The entire landscape of our lives has changed so drastically and dramatically. Divorce is death. The hopes and dreams that were shared for almost two decades, sit in tiny unmarked graves. You need to be prepared to have a full on funeral for the life that you had before those papers were signed. Be prepared to mourn. When my brain attempts to reach for those thoughts or memories, my heart recoils like a finger that has just touched a hot stove. I cannot live there, I would not survive. The grief, the shame, the guilt…it will singe and tarnish everything if you don’t find a way to process and heal and forgive.
Divorce, however, can also be rebirth. It contains within it, a transformative fire that can fuel the excavation of your authentic self. If you are brave, and bold, and strong enough to make it to the other side. To rebuild, reimagine, recreate yourself and a life that you can be proud of. It is possible to rise from the ashes.
But that’s a story for another time…