The dreaded D word.
A 7-letter, 2-sylable word that changes everything. No, It’s not deception (although that is pretty bad) or depression (that sucks too). It is Divorce. There are some people, Elizabeth Taylor types, that find nothing wrong with this word. The lawyers, the custody battles, and the drama associated is a walk in the park to them. Sadly, I am not in that particular camp of women. Divorce is no walk in the park for me, and to put it frankly, it sucks. The entire process is frustrating and sad. Splitting up time with you child breaks your heart.
In my situation, there were a few factors that led to the break up. In my mind, it would have been easier if it was one big reason on why we split. During the process, I stayed pretty quiet about the ordeal. Only select family members and friends knew, as I wanted to keep the matter private. I never wanted to be one of those wives who badmouthed my ex to anyone and everyone that listened and went for the jugular in divorce court. Keeping things civil and maintaining a good relationship with my ex was very important to me because of my son.
My parents divorced when I was 13, and although I was unfazed by the situation, I loathed how un-civil the split was. My mom is a pretty passive person and although, she could have vented and carried on about my dad, she never did. My dad, unfortunately, was pretty cutthroat in court and did a lot of badmouthing. I never felt like I was in the middle, I just was uncomfortable hearing those things about my mom.
After experiencing this, I would never want to put my son in that situation. As hard as divorce is, I feel it’s very important not put your child in a situation where you are badmouthing your ex or making this child feel like they need to choose. In my opinion, if you have children and are going through a divorce, the number one concern should be the child. Luckily, my son was very young and probably won’t remember most of the divorce, but children (no matter how young) can sense emotions and knowing this, I tried to keep my head up (no matter how bad/ugly it got) for him. Splitting up holidays is very hard, but I know it will get better.
My advice to anyone going through a divorce (with or without children):
It gets better.
Remember your first heartbreak and how you were certain that life was ending, the ache in your heart would never go away, and the lump in your throat would be there forever? Remember how in time, that feeling went away and you can even laugh when you reference the break up? Don’t get me wrong, heartbreak is awful, but with time it tends to get better. At the time of your breakup there may not be enough Xanax on earth to ease your broken heart, but if you keep yourself busy, focus on other things, and try to keep a positive mindset, the magical healing process will do it’s magic and you will start to feel like yourself again. Remember, there is a rainbow after every storm.
You are stronger than you think.
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”. Not to get all churchy on ya, but God will never give you more than you can handle. I cannot stress enough that us women are much stronger than we think. When I was married, I couldn’t imagine how I would get over something so awful. I learned that although, the situation was pretty awful, I stayed strong. A lot of people who are just learning about the split are shocked by my ability to keep it together and continue my daily routine while dealing with the big D. My son was one of the biggest reasons I needed to stay strong, and I do admit that if I didn’t have him in my life the whole ‘stay strong aspect’ would have been a tad more difficult. But, I know even without my son, I still would have survived.
Life goes on.
‘Oh my gosh, this is the end. The worst has happened’. This was one of the thoughts that raced through my head when the reality of my divorce sunk in. Moving from my cute little house that was custom made for us to my mom’s, splitting up assets, transitioning from a Mrs. to Miss, dividing my time with my son, how people would view me, and being alone for the first time in a really long time (I have really never been single, I will get into that at a later time) were all hard things I struggled with. I feared going back to square one. Life did in fact go on, and the transitional process is getting better every day.
Don’t put your children in the middle.
Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. It’s hard dealing with an ex. It’s even harder when there are negative and hurt feelings involved. We are all human and our judgment gets a little foggy when we are angry. In those moments of anger, we really should be thinking of our children. Before ripping your ex a new one in front of your kids, please think about how they will react hearing those things. Will your children feel they are in the middle? Will your children feel uncomfortable? Divorce is hard on everyone, and in my opinion it’s even harder on the children. Keep in mind they things are changing in their lives too and they may not be as used to adversity as you are.
Let go of anger.
“Behind every women scorned, is a man who made her that way”. Ten points to you if you associated this quote with a Miranda Lambert song. I feel strongly that the quote/lyric above is very true. Anger is a hard emotion to break. Many people live with anger, hurt, and resentment their entire lives. In the wake of a divorce, one has 2 choices on how to handle such anger. Option 1 – Drag all of your exes belongings onto the front lawn and light them on fire ‘Waiting to Exhale’ style, then log onto his Facebook account and change his “Interested In” status to men. Option 2 – Take a step back and calmly deal with your anger and hurt. Read self-help books and find a support group or someone who has been in a similar situation to talk to. Trust me, Option 1 is pretty dang tempting and Option 2 is easier said than done. Like I said earlier, anger is tough emotion, and probably the hardest to deal with. I have dealt with a whirlwind of emotions through my life (I’m a woman, come on) and there is nothing that can make you go from calm and poised to 50 shades of crazy more than anger. Anger for me was like wearing a backpack filled with 50 pound of bricks 24 hours, 7 days a week. I mean, who could ignore 50 lbs strapped to your back every day? Once I started legging go of my anger, and trust me, it was a process, it was like I was removing one brick slowly until there was nothing left in my imaginary backpack. That is a silly analogy, but it’s very true.
Try to keep the badmouthing to a minimum
Alright, before you think I am getting all holier than thou on you, let me remind you that I am human. Like I explained earlier, it’s really hard to badmouth, but I have done it too. If you feel that you have to let off some steam, choose your audience wisely. Try not to vent to anyone in your husband’s family, friends that you both share, or your children. Venting to your husband’s family or mutual friends puts them in an awkward position and makes them feel like they need to choose or they may feel like they are betraying your other half by listening to the rant. Mutual friends may come to you with concern or to seek information (come on, everyone loves a scandal) and you may feel inclined to divulge all the dirty details, but try to keep the negative comments at bay. This may seem silly, but ‘man-hating’ movies help, A LOT. Waiting to Exhale, 9 to 5, First Wives Club, The Women, Fried Green Tomatoes, Something to Talk About, and Thelma and Louise are all exceptional choices. All movies showcase anger in its truest form and how to get over it and build yourself back up.
Find a hobby or pastime.
The more you dwell on something, the worse it gets. Finding something that interests you and distracts you from your divorce is a huge help. If you have children, you will have to find something to fill your time on the days/weekends away from your child. Take a dance class, take up yoga or barre ballet, plan a couple weekend getaways, get a mani-pedi, craft a little (alright, I know you have just about a million things pinned to your craft board on Pinterest), have a girls night, or brush up on your reading.
You will find love again.
Deciding when to date again is different for everyone. Some take longer than others and some are ready to jump right back into dating. It’s all up to the person and what works for them. I know 2 people who experienced equally painful divorces, where one was already remarried with children in the amount of time it took other to be emotionally ready.
Starting back at square one when you haven’t been in the dating game for quite some time is ominous. The game has changed and re-entering post –divorce can seem overwhelming. One might assume they are less desirable having a failed marriage under their belt. One might assume that having children in addition to the failed marriage might scare men off. Truth be told, some men (mostly immature ones) will be scared off (it’s not like we want immature men anyways, right?) but surprisingly enough, most men won’t. Times have changed. Divorced women or women with children in the dating game has become increasingly common. Come to find out there are a lot of men out there who find a divorcé with children strong and more desirable than women with less ‘baggage’. A good percentage of men were raised by a single mom and admire one’s ability to raise a child on their own. You still may run the risk of finding a great guy (without children) who doesn’t really ‘get’ kids or a great divorced guy (with children) where either your parenting styles clash or your kids don’t get along with his little ones, but being a divorcé (in my case, with children) wasn’t as bad as I thought. I did go through a series of emotions where I questioned
seriously doubted that anyone would want to date me due to my new role as an ex-wife slash baby momma. BUT, turns out…. ex-wife slash baby momma-me is just as datable as pre-marriage slash pre-baby-me. Who knew?
Fun Fact: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 96 million single adults in the US. There are also 86 single men to every 100 single women. That’s kind of….a lot. There are plenty fish in the sea. May the odds be ever in your favor. Ignore the Hunger Games reference.
It’s easier than you think to start over.
I once knew a girl who continually went back to her ex after repeat affairs, deceptions, and verbal abuse. Her reasoning for going back to this particular man was not because he was charming or because she forgave him, it was her fear of starting over. See, she had devoted nearly the last decade to him and couldn't fathom how she would get by without him because he was all she knew. She had been out of work for 5 plus years and doubted that any employer would hire a 29 year old woman whose last job was in 2003. She doubted that she could provide for her 3 children. She doubted that she would have the courage to move from her 250K dream house to a small apartment she could barely afford. But, after 2 years of going back to her ex, she finally started over. She found a profitable job, moved out, and after budgeting, found a nanny to watch her girls and help out with errands during the day. Change is tough and starting back at level one is harder. As I mentioned earlier, God will not give us more than we can handle.