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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What No One Tells You About Divorce


My parents are divorced. Both sets of my grandparents are divorced. I have quite a few divorced friends. And yet, as someone going through divorce (yes, still going through, this is taking a while...), I realized that until I went through this myself, I had no idea what it was like. There's so many things I didn't know. So I wanted to share with you my thoughts on "what no one told you about divorce".

It takes time. Yea, that. I really had no idea how long the process could take. Fine, got that one out of the way.

People are nosy. Yes, everyone, your neighbor down the street, the guy in the supermarket, someone in your church that you don't know by name but recognize by face, that lady whose kid plays with yours at the playground- they all want to know why you are getting divorced. And of course, was it abuse? 

People overstep. You have people who pretend to be all nice and invite you to dinner, but their real goal is so stage an intervention and try to get you back with your spouse. Because there was this couple that was going to get divorced, and then they decided not to, and now they're happy 30 years later, and that's why you should get back. And then of course they pry and ask why you think you shouldn't, making you feel like you have to justify your decisions, and feel like you need to explain things to them that are, quite frankly, none of their business, only to have them tell you that even in such a case, you still should stay married, they know people that did and are happy with that decision.
Yea, did I say people are nosy?

Your entire social life is likely to undergo an upheaval. This isn't a guarantee, but an inevitability in many ways, for many reasons. Some people start backing off from you- some people think divorce is "contagious", but it isn't really. However, when people divorce it often does get you to start looking at your relationships and wonder if they are healthy, and for some people that introspection isn't comfortable, and instead of wondering why, they tend to push you away. And you might push others away, conciously or subconciously, because of their attitudes regarding divorce. Maybe they think divorce is never the right answer. Maybe they think abuse is the fault of the victim. I learned so many people's unhealthy views towards relationships once mine ended, and decided those aren't the people I want to surround myself with so I backed off. And for some people, you're just in a different stage of life and have less to talk about with them, so things cool off.

But along with those relationships that end, you also end up making new friends and getting closer with other people. There were some people in my neighborhood that I barely knew, but as they were divorced moms themselves, they reached out to me to offer me support. I made many friends through support groups for other single moms and divorcees and people going through divorce, people that understand what my life is like, what my current struggles are, what I went through, and that blood, sweat, and tears can really bring you close in a way no one can.

However, what divorce shows you more than anything else is the good people. The people that are those little angels. Those people that you liked before your divorce, but afterwards they just show you how special they are. Those people that go out of their way to be your family, because, in their words "I have a spouse to do these things for me, who will do it for you?" People that made their home mine as well, who brought over little things to perk me up, to show me that they love me.
More than anything else, divorce showed me who my true friends are. It showed me who the blessings are in my life. It helped me discover new family that I cherish.

Divorce makes you consider moving. Even if you had never thought of moving prior to divorce, there's always the money issue- can you still afford the same home you were living in while married? Are you selling the place? Do you need to get the best Pasadena movers to help you with your move? But it's not just costs that might have you moving. Some places are simply better equipped for divorced families. I'll admit that, for a point, I strongly considered moving to another city that has a fantastic support group for single moms, a city that, before Covid started, I regularly visited, to take part in these support events, because when I was among these women, I realized that I felt like I was at home. And if I didn't have such a strong support system locally, maybe I might have considered it. But I realized that these angels that take care of me locally, even if its not a huge amount of people, are worth their weight in gold, and I don't want to be apart from them. And starting over as a single mom is hard, because you have less time to socialize, so less time to get to know your neighbors, and become part of a community. Add to that the fact that change is hard for kids, divorce is hard for kids, and moving in a divorce can be yet another difficult change for kids, which is another reason I decided against it.

Kids need therapy. You need therapy. Ok, for me this is pretty self explanatory, that I needed therapy. Heck, I needed therapy before I decided to get divorced. It was therapy that helped me become strong enough to realize that my marriage wasn't a healthy one and decide to get out. But I thought I knew how to handle it with my kids. I thought I'd play it by ear, be open with my kids, be empathetic, but honest with them, as I usually am. And I learned that I screwed it up majorly. I didn't know how to deal with divorce. 
Honesty is not the best policy when it comes to kids and divorce. Kids should not be hearing exactly why you're getting divorced. They should not be told details. Kids do not need to hear the "truth" about their parents. Kids have one set of parents, and their relationship with that parent is important and plays a big part in the child's development, and telling your kids the truth as you see it about their other parent will only harm them. These are things that are not intuitive, and navigating divorce with kids is difficult and needs guidance- from a professional who knows the situation. 
One of the most important things I heard in my divorce was from my fellow single mom friend Shay, who told me to get my kids therapy pronto, and if there ever is a time to make a go-fund me, it is to give my kids therapy, that is how important it is. And I did. And I got the kids therapy via a go fund me, and so many people donated lots of money to ensure that my kids could get therapy, and I also reached  out to a community leader who used discretionary funds to help pay for my kids therapy. And I'm so appreciative for all of that.

Another thing is that before you get divorced you may have all sorts of ideas about what "type" of divorced person you would be. I "knew" I wouldn't be this certain "x type" of divorced woman who does "a b and c" like most divorced women I knew. I would be different. I wasn't them. I knew what type of person I'd be.
But no. Until you go through divorce, you have absolutely no idea what it will be like. What toll it would take on your psyche. What toll it would take on your religious observance and beliefs. How it would change your views on certain things. It didn't matter that I was told these things would happen to me, it didn't matter that I knew many people who were divorced before me. Until you are actually living it, until you are actually going through it, you have no idea what affect it will have on you as a person. Zero idea. I'll be honest, what I thought would be and what actually is is almost diametrically opposed to each other. I was clueless. And not from lack of knowledge. This is the type of thing that until you actually live it, until you actually go through it, you have no clue. Period.

I thought I knew it all about divorce, being a child and grandchild of divorce. But no. I didn't. Not everything I learned was easy. Some was painful. But some was beautiful. And I choose to focus on the beautiful. What inspired me to write this post actually was a friend whose husband works in the supermarket where I get my deliveries from. And with my last delivery, since she knew I was in quarantine, she made sure her husband sent home a nice bar of chocolate with a loving note, just to cheer me up.

And when that happened, all that kept on going through my head was "What no one tells you about divorce is how many amazing angels you will discover. How many amazing kind loving people."

Yes, not everything about divorce is roses and sparkles. 

But I'll try to stick to what Mr Roger's said, about when there are difficult things. "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." And I really have. And I'm so grateful for them.

Are you divorced? What things did you discover about divorce that no one told you before? Was there any special advice you'd wished you'd have gotten?

6 comments:

  1. I am divorced. And I told my kids (16 and 18 at the time) exactly why their father was leaving: because he was having an affair. It's no longer my job to lie for my ex, and I despise family lies. The other thing no one ever tells you about divorce is it can happen to you even if you thought you were happily married.

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  2. I am also divorced. I'm the first in my family to get divorced, so that's another layer of special. But...after 20 years of a dysfunctional marriage, avoiding the reality that someday I would have to get divorced in order to clean up this mess, what was and is amazing is that I am FREE! That's worth any amount of everything else that happened that sucked. The freedom from that person is absolutely, 100% awesome and amazing.

    Thanks for sharing this. I completely agree that, until you do it, you have no idea what it's going to be like.

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  3. I am divorced after 23 years. No kids, thankfully. I have the luxury of not seeing my ex at all. It was the best decision I could have made. 150lbs lost-I feel better that I ever have. I feel free. It’s been 6 years and I wished I’d done it a lot sooner

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  4. My parents are also divorced. But when “I” was through divorce...I realized that it was another universe. Hugs. I really understand what you mean & thanks for this post.

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  5. 16 years married and now I'm divorced as of February 2020. It wasn't planned and I had to leave for my own safety. The life I knew starting from 17 was gone in the blink of an eye.

    I was told I'd lose relatives and yes, I did. I found more inner strength than I knew I had (thank to G-d) and all. Therapy, therapy, THERAPY! Can't stress that enough.

    You will mourn. You will mourn what you had, what could of been, and it'll be awhile before acceptance comes. The grieving process is normal with a big life change.

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