I am divorced. I’m actually divorced twice. But, a divorce of any number sucks. I know why God hates divorce. It’s not that he wants us to suffer in an unhealthy marriage, it’s just that divorce is horribly, wretchedly painful. No matter how you slice it, if it can be worked out, it’s better than this alternative. But, sometimes it can’t.
Now, I am truly happy with my life. Don’t get me wrong. But that has come as a result of a lot of grieving and adjustment. And there are still days – rare – that I wish it hadn’t ended this way. I often get really mad about it when I have to carry a 40 lb bag of kitty litter into the house. That’s what HE was supposed to do. I also get angry (which is almost always a coverup for sadness or hurt, by the way) when I get rejected by someone I’m dating. I shouldn’t be back dating again. That was not Plan A.
The worst part of the aftermath of divorce is the guilt. If you are new to this game, the guilt never really goes away. It lessens. But, it’s always there. The other day, someone posted a picture of an elderly couple on Facebook. The caption was something like: “How did you make it 65 years? Answer: We lived in a time when something was broken, you fixed it. You didn’t throw it away.” Really? Do you really think that divorced people just thought it would be easier to quit? Only a person that has never been divorced would think that. They have no idea how horribly painful the choice of divorce really is. I do.
The divorce process itself is painful. Both of mine were relatively simple legally. We had no kids. I basically took the toys I brought and went home. But, it was still painful. It really is a ripping away. It rips away the family that you learned to love as part of your own. It rips away the dreams and plans for the future. It rips away the person that knows more about you than anyone else in the world. It just leaves a gaping hole in your life. I cannot even fathom how parents feel when they are divorced. I, at least, don’t have to see my exes after it is done. Even with that, it took me about 3 years after each divorce before I felt like it was really over. Not everybody takes that long, but that’s what it takes for me. I’ve read that the average recovery time is 2-3 years.
When my friends are going through a divorce, I feel honored to listen to their story. I know that when you are going through it, you have to tell your side of the story a million times. You don’t come to the decision to divorce because you were great at resolving conflict. It was such a gift when someone really listened and empathized with me. Later, I could look at both sides more realistically and see my part in the problems. But, that was long after the hurt and anger died down. So, when someone I care for goes on and on about their ex-spouse and how badly they were treated, I listen. And, I empathize. I validate their feelings. And, I give them the dignity to move through the very ugly and painful part of the grieving process that is ANGER. It is normal, and if you don’t process the anger, you will never get through the rest of the grieving process. When I do this for my friends (and sometimes strangers), I see it as giving back what I was given in a really tangible way.
I have a rule that I don’t date anybody that’s less than a year from their final divorce date. They are crazy, insane, mixed up and scared. I made that mistake once. And, I made this rule because I know that I’m insane when I’m going through a divorce. And, the weird thing is, I don’t feel insane at the time. So, I just don’t trust post divorce feelings, promises or desires. I have men that argue with me about it all the time. I’m over her…. I never really loved her….it was just the final legal paperwork, it was over years ago….blah…blah…blah…It’s not about you, baby. It’s about me and what I can tolerate.
As scary and painful as divorce is, it happens to a lot of us. So, we cope. I went through Divorce Recovery, twice. I hired a counselor. Many times, I paid that counselor to listen to me while I cried just to have a man validate the feelings I felt. It was worth every dime. I took a 2 year break from dating. In fact, I wasn’t even friends with any man that wasn’t gay during that two years. I took care of myself, walked my spiritual path, learned to exercise, surrounded myself with friends, did comforting things for myself, got massages, ate right and just did things that gave life to me. I rebuilt my life in a way that was supportive of who I am. Oh yeah….I cried a lot. I take that back, I sobbed. I cried so much for the first year that I could have floated my kayak on my tears. And, then, slowly, I stopped crying and started living. What was ripped apart was finally mended, stronger and with scars, to be sure. And now, when someone says they are going through a divorce, my heart softens for them because I’ve been there. And, if they will let me, I give them a really big hug.