I’ve been desperate lately to hear from other people who’ve gone through divorce. I have one close friend who went through the process of leaving a long term marriage about a year or so after I did. She leaned heavily on me for advice, and for someone to talk to about the things her then-husband did that no one who hadn’t gone through this would believe possible. It’s how we became really close, actually.
There is nothing like someone who understands. There is nothing like someone who can stand with you and tell you over and over, as many times as you need to hear it, that once you take all the emotion out of it, to the law the process of divorce is very cut and dried and isn’t all about extracting revenge no matter what it feels like. It’s even to your advantage, unless you have some really tricky property issues or stuff involving children that can’t be resolved any other way, to avoid court. That makes the lawyers rich and you might end up with dip squat anyway.
We’re the “little people” of this world, after all, not celebrities or children of trust funds. Not that either of us is remotely close to “poor.” There just comes a time when you realize it’s time to stop nickel and diming each other to death, and you put your emphasis on getting out with your soul as intact as possible. Whether you’ve been married a short time, or thirty years as I was, your heart gets ripped out and stomped into the ground and then eaten by coyotes or ants or the stray crow no matter what.
If I had realized what I’d have to go through to free myself of my husband, I might never have started. It was scary enough and took me a decade to do anyway. But one thing I do know. I wouldn’t be here if I had stayed. I would have hung myself in the closet, or put the straw in the vodka bottle and sucked it down until my liver gave out. The truth is I had to leave. Eventually, I chose life.
The only thing that still gets me is the realization of how little I understood some of the impact of my ex-husband’s childhood on who he was as a man. I knew him in high school, after all, though not as a boyfriend. I got to know his parents way better than I might ever have wanted to even before they were my in-laws. He was an only child in a violent, angry alcoholic home. It’s a wonder he could ever have been the sober, smart, creative, good provider and good father he was for years.
Eventually it all caught up with him. Eventually he couldn’t hold it together any more. Not that I was perfect in the midst of this, either. I’m not trying to say that I didn’t carry 50% of the blame for all that eventually occurred. I just chose to seek help, and keep on seeking until I realized my only option was to leave.
As an option, given who I am and the baggage I carry from my own childhood, that sucked. But it seemed better than staying. Especially since my two kids might think the marriage might be a model of a long-term relationship and what that looked like. That was the scariest part. What was the message I was sending my kids if I stayed?
I tried to talk to my husband about getting divorced when I finally made the decision to file and begin the process. For two years I had been telling him as clearly as I knew how that it wasn’t working for me, that I wasn’t happy, that we needed to try to implement some of the techniques that had been suggested to us in therapy. It fell on deaf ears. In the end I realized it never occurred to him that I’d really leave. So in his mind he never really needed to do anything.
“We’re getting divorced!” he shouted when I tried to talk to him about my reasons behind it as he sat on a couch across the room from me. “That means I never have to listen to you or care what you think again!” He jumped up off the couch, turned his back on me and walked out of the room. And so, basically, even when our kids’ welfare meant communication was vital or would help them if not us, his choice has been to pretend that I don’t exist, no matter who it hurts.
The great blessing for me is that I am finally getting to know who I really am. It’s taken five years but I am coming out the other side of this with a new found respect for my many gifts and talents. I love life in a way I never did before. I have a deep and abiding relationship with the God of my understanding. That deep down rage and fear that I stuffed my whole life is mostly gone. In case you care, I am living proof it really does get better with time. My grandfather said it best when he used to help me think about how to get through hard times. “You just have to keep on keeping on,” he would say.
I wish you the best on your journey, too.
So, if you’ve read this and you have any advice for me, or care to share a word or two about your journey or thoughts on this topic, please feel free to leave me a comment below. I promise I’ll at least think about what you’ve said. I can always use a companion on the path, especially when the going gets tough. Thank you.