Surviving Divorce: Part One

Posted on | November 4, 2012 | No Comments

Don’t let the title mislead you… there is no set of rules that is going to get you through what you’re facing.  There is no expert, no secret, no magic pill you can take that will make you wake up tomorrow morning and feel like you can breathe in air again without wanting to die.

So why am I even writing this? Good question.  I think it boils down to this: at the precise moment when the words “I don’t love you” or “I don’t want to be married to you any more” or “I want a divorce” crawl into your brain from your spouse’s mouth, you feel as though the entire world has turned its back on you… and this post is to remind you that, in fact, it has not.  On Saturday, I got a message from a reader with a heart-breakingly simple and infinitely difficult question:

“How are you dealing with or coping with a divorce you didn’t want?”

I slept on the question.  I turned it over and over in my mind, examining it from every angle before starting my response.  Because how DO you deal with or cope with a divorce you don’t want?  How do you possibly survive that soul-crushing wound? How do you get up from the fetal position long enough to breathe, much less function?

How do you cope with the ending of the life you thought you had, without being able to mourn for it as a death?

And I think the answer is both simple and profound:

You can’t.

If you think for one minute that you can pick up where you left off, brush yourself off and move forward without mourning the death of your love, the death of your spouse’s love for you, then you will never get through this.  Ever.

So my first piece of advice is to cry.  Cry often. Cry loudly, if necessary.  Cry until you want to scream at yourself for crying so hard and so long.  Because honey, you are in mourning.  You have had your heart ripped away in its prime.  You have experienced the unexpected death of the loved one you thought you knew, and if you don’t let yourself bawl your effing eyes out, I will come to your house with a copy of Steel Magnolias and Sara Evans’ “Stronger” CD and MAKE you cry.   You will feel like you shouldn’t be crying so much.  You will wonder if you should be stronger, if you should be able to show him or her that you are awesome without them.  And you will, some day.  But for now, for the first of it, let yourself cry.

When the tears get to a temporary stopping point, you will want to destroy something.  You will want to rip something up, the way they ripped you.  You will want to sink your hands into the softest parts of his or her flesh and you will actually want to physically destroy them.  Congratulations for making it that far… as a reward for all your crying, you will now wonder who you are, who you’ve become that you can actually feel that type of soul-sucking hatred for another person.  It sucks.  It will make you feel evil all up inside.

So my second piece of advice, when you reach that moment of sheer hatred, is to break something. Take up running and break your speed record or your distance record or your record for longest time running without vomiting.  Buy a box of pencils and snap them all with your hands. Make a meatloaf or bread or play-doh for your kids and pound your fists into that bowl of mushy until your knuckles are numb.  Buy a punching bag or take up kick boxing.  Do what I did, and break ground in the backyard… plant something new, build a patio. But for the love of God, Break. Something.  Or something within you will start to break and you’ll find yourself right back at step one. Again.  Though lets be honest… you’re gonna find yourself at the beginning of this list more than once in your road to recovery.

Congratulations, my friend.  You’ve officially survived the first few days of being divorced. (I kid… though you should get used to feeling days as years… time runs differently for the broken hearted).

Now go buy yourself a cookie… or three dozen.


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