As my marriage was ending, I struggled with shame, feeling alone in my own personal hell.
However, as my journey continued and I started to heal, I connected with others who had walked a similar path, and I discovered that I was not alone. Many voiced similar feelings experienced during their divorce, and more than once I heard “if only I had known what to expect.”
As homage to those that have split from their spouse, as well as those currently on their own divorce journey, I offer this communal list of what to expect:
1. We will doubt ourselves, and feel so afraid of the Unknown that we will reason that even though we are miserable, we are at least comfortable, and that we can endure an unhappy marriage.
We will try to convince ourselves of this, even though in our hearts we know that it isn’t true. But we will tell ourselves lies and reason with ourselves that we shouldn’t split—for the kids, for the finances, etc. We will bargain with ourselves because we are scared. Know that this is normal.
2. The roller coaster we feel when the decision is made to separate is unlike anything we ever experienced.
The regret, the grief, the pain, the confusion, the overwhelming, the fear, the desperation of wanting to be loved after our spouse is gone.
But even though we don’t know it, there is a weight that will slowly start to ease from our shoulders—the same weight that we denied all this time when we told ourselves nothing was wrong.
3. Our self-esteem may shatter, and we will be desperate for love and validation.We will think that nobody will ever love or want us again, and we may be tempted to date immediately and latch on to the first person who pays attention to us. We must resist this urge to attach ourselves, even if we have not had that romantic touch or intimacy for a long time. Trying to fill that void with another relationship robs us of the chance to heal.
4. Although we may tell ourselves that we’re fine, we will need a support system.
A therapist, a support group, good friends, or the non-judgmental anonymity of online forums. Whatever combination of systems we choose should help us attain two objectives: creating a safe place for venting, and helping us find constructive, healthy ways to cope with the divorce.
5. We will feel like we are getting sprayed with an industrial fire hose.
The number of “to-do’s” and “should-do’s” regarding emotions, finances, legal issues, custody and other logistics will come with incredible urgency. We will feel paralyzed and overwhelmed.
Understand that splitting is a process. Like any process, there are things to address immediately (safety, shelter, income), things to address a little bit later (understanding legal and custody issues, finding an emotional support system) and there are things to address longer-term (ensuring our separation agreement is something we can live with, making sure we and our children are adjusting). We will need to remind ourselves that divorce is like a marathon and it requires patience and persistence. We must save ourselves the stress by accepting that not everything has to be done right now.
6. We will have no control over our spouse’s behavior.
For serious offenses (threatening harm, cleaning out our savings account or wracking up debt on a joint credit card), we will absolutely need to take action. But there will also be annoyances that may not endanger us, but will anger us. It may seem like they are trying to make our life as miserable as they possibly can, which could result in a long, drawn-out, expensive, soul-sucking divorce—if we let it.
We will need to remember that although we can’t control their behavior, we can control how we react to it. Our decision to take the high road despite how they act is entirely up to us. Like most things during the split, it will be easier said than done.
7. We will be tempted to make decisions based on emotion, rather than logic.
We will forget that divorce is a business transaction––a splitting of assets and incomes. The logical part of us will understand this, but the part of us that is hurt may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with business at all. During the legal process, we will be forced to choose our battles. Choose wisely.
Lord knows he checked out mentally long ago but I told him to leave physically. I can’t handle his ghost on my couch that stalks the kids and I’s emotional sanctuary.
I have to re-examine my life alone. I have to face the reality that he’s never coming back.
I don’t know where this road leads. There’s parts of me that think it leads right into the treacherous pits of hell. There’s another part of me that thinks maybe that’s where I’ve already been. I’m hoping the only way out is up now.
God knows, I’m crawling and clawing at my surroundings trying to regain my balance and find some foundation to build upon. I’m being careful to not hastily build on quicksand. I’m doing a lot of examination of my surroundings and those surrounding me. I’m taking stock of intentions vs. actions, reaching out more to those that are willing to take action with me. I have no use for lip service. Put up or shut up.There’s work to be done. Lend a hand or get the hell out of the way.
Mostly I’m just promising to love myself in a way that maybe I never have. I’m loving my body and soul. Taking time to care for each. And so, I need to recommit to being here more often and writing more. That’s part of taking care of me. I always show up for my kids and friends. I know that about myself. I love that about myself, however, I need to be more selfish. I need to make time and space for my thoughts and feelings because no one else will, unless I recognize and make them a priority. I’ve given myself permission to have bad moments and days, but not all at once. If I slip and stumble, I will do the next right thing for myself. I will not allow myself to get stuck in these moments and days though. I will continually reach deep down inside myself, or even outside myself if need be, to find the momentum to keep going.
I don’t know where this road leads, but I will keep going.
Jer signed a year lease on his own place and is in the process of moving all his big ticket items out of the house. I guess that makes the separation “official”.
I had hoped that something different would happen, anything. I kept hoping he’d be the one guy in my life to stand up and fight for me, but instead I’m just here shadowboxing, prepared to swing at something, anything.
He had said that his intentions were to take this time and space to work on his own issues so that if we stood a fighting chance, he’d be able to fight. Words vs. actions doesn’t seem that way though. Im grown enough to recognize that.
As his best friend was helping him move out yesterday, I heard him say, “If this is a bluff, I’m not helping you move your shit back in.” It made my gut drop. My gut said this was something I couldn’t ignore. That’s his best friend. What exactly, if anything, has he said to him about his intentions?
I don’t know. I just don’t want to deal with any of this. I’d just like to awaken when all the dust is settled and decisions are made so I know what to do. And so, we have this Sunday’s song …
This post is brought to you by voice to text. It will not be edited. Hell, it may not even be read again. All I can tell you is that I’m infuriated. I am sick to death of people who take no accountability for their lives and circumstances and play the victim. Especially when there are actual victims they have hurt and left in their wake.
I have officially moved on in my grief cycle and am done with denial and sadness.
I’m fucking furious.
“You’re not crazy, Stephanie. You’re dealing with a near impossible situation that’s devastating. Frankly, I don’t know how you get out of bed everyday, much less remain functional while someone continues to actively break your heart. That’s not even close to crazy, that’s brave. Anybody who doesn’t see that, respect it or makes you question it for a second, just doesn’t get it.
One piece of advice: watch what people do, not what they say. It always tells you everything you need to know.”
~ My psychiatrist
He never really loved you. He loved the idea of you: a woman who is an amazing mother, the kind he never had, someone who would love him unconditionally in all the ways he thought himself unworthy, but not you. His love was always conditional. As long as he got his way. As long as you made it easy on him, do the heavy lifting and be thankful when he wipes your brow and pats your back. When he said he would never hurt you or your children, he just knew what you wanted to hear…needed to hear, but he would never even bite his tongue to spare any of tou the lashing. You know what you did wrong? You closed your eyes. You stopped watching and you listened and you choose to believe what you wanted. Dont upset the apple cart. Listen to the sweet nothings. He enjoyed it while it fed his own ego and made him look good or polished his reflection as a narcissist. He loved the way it made him look like a better man but he wasnt. He wasnt even a man. He was a trapped little boy, scared to really ever take the chance you gave him to have all the things he *said* he wanted. Facade. Smoke and mirrors. Masks. Everything you didn’t want or need.
Maybe you’ve never really been loved by any hand that has touched you. I mean, Jesus, look at the things you’re own father, saint to others, has done to you even recently.
Maybe those things never existed or will. Maybe they don’t make men like they used to. Maybe they never did.
My words have been stuck in my head for awhile. I’m half dead inside my mind. It’s definitely not a lack of things to say. I could scream for days and there’d still be more but it feels very futile.
Then this time of day rolls around. The time of day I used to look forward to getting into bed with my husband about an hour before falling asleep just so we could talk. We’d lay in one another’s arms talking and laughing. Im a girl who enjoys sex but this type of intimacy is beyond that and I cherished it. But now I try to sprawl myself out to cover as much of his empty space as I possible. Another act of futility.
The tears well. The thoughts race.
How long has it been since he held me here? More than that though, how long since he wanted or needed to just be next to me?
How long did I pretend we were being sheltered and cared for by piecing together the scraps of attention and affection that were haphazardly tossed our way? Why was that acceptable to me? To him? When exactly did I accept this shell of the man, husband and father in place of the genuine? How did he keep turning up less accountable and proactive yet more burdened and resentful? And why? Always, why? All we wanted was him. He was gone.
The environment became too toxic, the stakes too high. It reached a boiling point. The kettle screaming and by that time too hot to handle. We were burned and my reflex was to let go and guard the wound.
I told him he needed to leave and I didn’t care where he went. An obvious overshot released venomously, with teeth and claws bared in perceived threat to child that has since been labeled “unacceptable” and even “unforgivable” that I am struggling to wrap reality around. I question things that I actually witnessed happen which leaves me feeling untrusting of myself and because he’s taken all of this and made them into logic and reason to stay absent from home and family, untrusting of him as well.
I mean it can’t be both something that didn’t happen the way everyone perceived it and the reason for a realization that you need to step away and work on yourself to have any chance of us being a family again.
There’s so much more to say. So much to be done. And here I am. Just me.
Love is a choice as much as it is magic. Magic comes in moments, but choices stretch out over time. We make them new each morning. In the first fall, they were magic. Then the seasons brought their storms, as seasons always do. Summer brought a winter. There was crying and silence and he would go away to change, for sometimes we have to lose a thing to find it.
i tried to talk to him about the separation agreement, turns out we couldn’t do much agreeing. actually, i take that back…he was pretty agitated when i told him how much child and spousal support would amount to. that was his big concern. not his family falling apart, but child support. he said: “so basically i’ll give you a paycheck for nothing“. yeh, he’s sweet. then, i started telling him that while i would like to have shared parenting and for the kids to have more time with him than the standard ordered visitation, i was concerned about his drinking and wanted language added to the agreement where he would abstain from drinking during his visitations. this really set him off. he told me this was another way of me controlling him and just trying to get my way. that is was ridiculous. he laughed at me. told me that if i wanted to be nasty, we would get nasty.
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
eventually the words all run together. they’re mean, spiteful…they all sound the same.
i know i’m doing the right thing. i do. and it’s not divorce that i fear.
what i’m scared of is the kids only having him to depend on during visitation. don’t get me wrong, i don’t think he’s a bad father, but where alcohol is involved, he sense is gone and it scares me. if i’m honest that’s probably the reason i’ve stayed as long as i have. because i figured if i stayed i could protect them and if we went our separate ways i’d have to trust him……with my children……and i don’t. not where alcohol comes into play.
this is gonna get ugly. i just know it.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day making phone calls. I called an attorney and made an appointment for today. I called the bank and explained what had happened and told them I wanted my name taken off the account. Then I went to another bank and opened my own checking account. When I got home, I sent him this e-mail:
I can’t do this anymore and we need to figure out what we’re going to do. We can’t continue to be in the same house because when you are here, we have expectations of you. This is something you don’t understand. You don’t understand that it hurts me when you don’t come home at night, that it hurts me when you talk to me so disrespectfully in front of the kids, when you leave the house trashed. It’s not fair to any of us. And the more it continues the more hurt I get, the kids are now getting their feelings hurt and eventually you’re just going to make all of us detest you. You’ve made it very clear that you are miserable and that you have other interest outside of the home. I think it would be best for everybody if you just go do those things and let us be. Pack your stuff, go stay at Jms’, J’s, R’s…whatever, agree to a visitation schedule that you can stick to, so that the kids know when they can DEPEND on you to be around and agree to pay me X amount of money out of each check and then keep the rest. I really don’t care about the money right now. I just don’t want this cycle to continue and the hurt to continue until we hate each other so much that we can’t be productive parents to our children. This process is going to be hard enough on them without all the extra stress. I don’t want them in the middle. You don’t know what it’s like to have them crying because you didn’t do this or you didn’t do that. You wouldn’t like me very much either if you had to watch me hurt them over and over.
I think you need some serious time on your own to do whatever it is you want without the responsibility of others expectations and feelings. What you need is to be alone, without a crutch, without someone who tries to make it better. Then, maybe, you’ll be forced to face your own demons and become the kind of man you want to be. I can’t do that for you….nobody can. And if you can’t do that, at least me and the kids don’t have to see you destroy yourself.
first of all a seperation agreement needs to be filled. we do not have to get divorced/dissalution right now we just need some space. how can you say “it hurts when you you don’t come home at night” when you tell me to leave my home and family. i am not walking away from that. second i have not left the house trashed. you use this to make your point look worse or bigger than it really is. if i ever disrespect you in front of the kids i am sorry but i know that i only do it to protect myself when you go that direction.
and just how am i hurting the kids feelings. that statement also is blown-up. the kids and you have always depended on me and nothing in that reguard has changed. i will always be a productive parent for my children. a family is a crutch for itself when each other need it. i have tryed to tell you what changes we need to make in order for this to work but you are more intersted in being right and y ou never give in. the things that need to change in our relationship and family you have not heard and not tryed in anyway to change. i can no longer be manipulated and scared into being the person you want. i need to be myself and be happy. i would like the same for you. you can’t continue to blow things out of proportion in order to get you way. people are seeing thru it. if you want to make this work then sit down with me and really listen.
What happened next:
My feelings are hurt. I mean, is he serious….I haven’t done anything to try. I haven’t tried making changes. What the hell was counseling. Wasn’t he the one that admitted to the counselor that he purposely wasn’t trying? I don’t get it.
He ended up doing a side job after work and didn’t get home til around 8. The kids were happy to see him. I did the invoicing for him and shut down my computer and told him I was off to take shower and get to bed, I was tired.
Him: “Just like that?”
Me : Yep.
Him: “Well can you help me with the kids, I was gonna get the telescope out and I need to make myself dinner.”
Me: Well, the kids have all been pretty emotional and tired today, which made it emotional and tiring for me, so maybe it’s not a good night for that and they should just go to bed.
Him: “But it might not be clear tomorrow night.”
Me: Ok, then you go get the telescope if that’s what you want to do.
Him: “Just forget it, I’m not gonna beg you to help with the kids.”
I look at him in disbelief and laugh.
Me: Oh that’s good, considering I was here all night last night with them by myself
Him: “And I was here all day with them Saturday while you were at your Mom’s”
Me: Right, and I am here everyday. They haven’t seen you since yesterday, I don’t think it would kill you to spend some time with them.
And I just went upstairs and took my shower and got ready for bed.
He comes up and tells me that he’s gonna sleep in the bed, because his neck is killing him, but he promises not to touch. 5 mins later….the kids won’t settle down into bed and he starts complaining about how tired he is, so I get up and get them settled down. As I get back into bed he asks me why I’m wearing this pair of underwear. Cause they were clean and I put them on. He asks if I did so he would see. He went on and on and I ignored and ignored until he fell asleep. Then I laid there and cried quietly for about 20mins until I fell asleep myself.
I woke up this morning to him spooning me, rubbing his hands up under my shirt and grinding his hard-on into my thigh. This continued until I got up and went to the bathroom. When I came back he was laying on the bed and motioning like he wanted me to cuddle up to him.
Me: I don’t want to cuddle with you
Him: Yeh, you do.
Me: No, really …I don’t
Him: (sigh) I want you. How long has it been?
Me: I don’t know
Him: Did you read my e-mail?
Him: You probably thought it was all bullshit, right?
Him: Yeh, you always think everything I think and say is bullshit.
Me: I’m not talking to you
Him: Yeh, writing is probably better, then people can see what you’re really like.
Him: Did you show that e-mail to anyone?
Me: No, I’m sure you did though (wouldn’t you assume that from last comment)
Him: No, I didn’t. I was wondering if you showed it to your Mom or Dad?
Him: Yeh, you probably wouldn’t cause then they would see what you’re really like.
Him: They’ll see….when you get you’re next boyfriend and you have all the same problems, then they’ll see.
Me: We’ll see. You won’t have to worry about it too much longer.
Him: Yeh, well i’d like to know how you think you’re going to afford anything
Me: Oh just stop….go to work.
Him: Well, you won’t be able to afford the house with your part-time job. We’ll probably have to sell the house.
Me: Yep…probably, ok bye. Have a nice day.
Him: Why don’t you get a full time job. Oh yeh, that’s because you’re not good at that. You can’t keep a full-time job.
Me: Aren’t you the one who changes job every year or two?
Him: The kids will probably have to get paper routes just to support you.
Me: Oh my God.
He walked away mumbling and shut the door behind him. I put my head in the pillow and screamed silently. I started laughing because the whole thing was ridiculous and I knew there was no merit behind his words, but I was also half crying because…his words hurt. I mean, wasn’t he just trying to have me cuddle with him and have sex? And then he attacks me? He walks back in.
Him: Are you laughing or crying?
Me: What would it matter to you, just go.
He said something about me obviously wanting a reaction and getting one while he was walking away. I didn’t really hear, or care to hear, anymore.
Then I come downstairs to make the kids cereal and I find a note on my laptop that says:
I want it to work. Can we give each other what we need to do so?
The man seriously has a problem with connecting words and actions. My counselor said to me the other day that words are easy, people can say anything, it’s the follow through that’s more difficult. He said that when someone’s actions and words don’t match, the actions are the truth of the person. Because it is actually harder and takes more effort to “do” things to/for people.