Last week held a personal milestone…the 20th anniversary of my wedding, and I’m single now. I don’t think I’m a bitter person, but the anniversary made me contemplative.
I was surprised how devastating a divorce is. Before my own, it seemed a sad, but routine, part of life. Ours was relatively simple and not unexpected. And still, divorcing ripped out my core. I lost a lot of weight, couldn’t think straight, cried until I looked like an alien. There was such a sense of loss and rejection. It was the death of a dream.
It is the only time in my life I truly SCREAMED at someone. Not in anger; I never really got angry at him even though my friends did. I was questioning the way it unfolded. He had been emotionally checked out for two years. I yelled because I wanted to know why he wasted my time when he knew he was over me.
In your forties, two years make a big difference. I went through the painful, slow death of his Mother followed quickly by that of his Father. My face and knees got wrinkled, my breasts sagged and other similarly wonderful things happened in those two years.
Most damaging was sharing a home and bed with the husband I knew was slipping away, begging a man to love me while he shunned me. I prayed, read self-help books, went to counseling, and focused my life on him in a desperate attempt to save our marriage when I should have been moving on with my life, as he already had!
I couldn’t attend church for a while. Waiting for the service routinely left me in tears. Seeing families made me feel broken, like a failure, and reminded me I was single and would never have a child. In other public places, I wondered what was so wrong with me that I didn’t deserve someone… like she did… or he did.
My ex had taken my chance to have children, though he promised otherwise before we married. There were other fundamental promises replaced with excuses. He thought it was a temporary phase, thought he could change me… Really? The awful truth was that what I wanted, what he’d promised, just wasn’t that important to him…. and maybe our 15-year relationship had been based on misconceptions.
Sadly, divorce affects your social network. My ex made it easier by leaving town; I could even afford to stay in my home. But some married couples, some even close friends, weren’t so comfortable around me anymore. I lost the work friends, but that was expected for multiple reasons.
The hardest part was losing family. I have no full siblings and a small family, but he was close to his two siblings and had a large extended family. They were my family; and then… nothing. Most concerning was losing my stepparent relationships. But, I’m blessed to know my stepson’s family. For that, I am very thankful to him and his wonderful wife.
The divorce taught me not to be afraid to reach out and not to waste time, eventually made me a better friend and daughter. I’m healthy and happy, but would like to be married again. I’m trying to be smarter this time. I realize it might not happen, and I’m taking steps to make sure I remain okay with that.
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