THE JOURNEY OF DIVORCE
Let’s be 100% honest from the beginning. Divorce is hard. It is like ripping an arm off and hitting yourself over the head with it time and time again. Getting through this process takes time. There is no designated time limit on how much time that is, everyone is different and each person needs to take whatever time they need to get through it.
There are so many different stages you go through and there is no set time to go through these and there is no rule to say that you don’t go back into different stages the more you unravel and rebuild yourself.
Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross a Swiss Psychiatrist penned the 5 stages of grief in 1969, which is now recognized worldwide as the key reference point for Grief. Divorces have very similar stages of grief but the stages are unique at the same time.
Removing the partnership connection
Now that you are apart, you do not have to have permission or come to an agreement to do things.
Making a decision - Although this seems quite easy, for some, making a decision without consultation or approval from a partner can be quite a daunting experience. Although making your own decisions is part of the package, I suggest caution when making major decisions such as high ticked purchases, or physical body alterations when you have recently separated.
What will people think – Many people get anxious about sharing that the relationship has ended. Some for fear of shame or reprimand. Some for fear of looking lesser than or is somehow in the wrong. I know when I separated, I felt embarrassed going to the supermarket and buying food only for myself and my daughter. I know it was silly, I was the only one that knew who I was buying for and most people don’t even think twice about what is in your shopping trolley as they are caught up in their own thoughts, but yes, I had that very real, unrealistic shame.
Telling the world
Sharing with friends and family is also very hard. It is not uncommon to feel that you did something wrong and/or feel ashamed that you could not make it work.
It can be also hard to hear some people say that they never liked your partner or tell you stories about the things they said or did that you had no idea about.
War or Peace
Physically separating - so often, the separation of physical assets is like waging a war. It is never pleasant and unfortunately, it can become even more devastating when partners can’t come to an agreement and it has to be fought out with the assistance of lawyers.
This can be full of stress, frustration, anxiety and very real trauma as the life you lovingly shared together gets pulled apart, one piece of material possession after the other.
Custody of the Children – separating the physical is one thing, but the battle over custody of the children is a totally different kettle of fish.
Each partner thinks they know what is best for the children. Naturally sorting this out amicably is the best solution, remembering that your children love you both and often want both their parents in their life as much as possible.
No matter how much you try to protect your children, their family separating is hard. It is not uncommon for school aged children to also feel embarrassed and/or uncomfortable telling their friends and classmates that their parents have separated.
It is also hard for children as they feel they need to take sides and no matter how hard the parents try not to put them in the middle of the breakup, they are.
It is harder still for the children if parents use them intentionally or unintentionally as spies on the partner to find out what they are up to or if a parent, in the process of healing, shares anger, frustration or animosity towards the other parent. The child feels it all, but also feels they are betraying one or the other parent if they share that they are being caught in the middle or don’t like what is going on.
It is a little easier when the children have grown up and are living more independently, but even then it can be hard for them as they often unconsciously feel the need to take sides or intervene.
Making it on your own
Single Parenthood – yes life just got a whole lot harder. You not only have to be the one that is there for your children 24/7, you have to wear so many hats. Loving parent, chef, cleaner, domestic genius, taxi, teacher, counsellor, designer, personal shopper, event co-ordinator, social co-ordinator, sporting genius, music genius, dance genius, in many instances, the financial provider, peacemaker, pleasantly removed friend to the ex, all while trying to get over the feelings of disappointment/betrayal of your partner and build a whole new life for yourself.
Yes it is a very real scenario. No matter how good or bad the breakup is, there is always a degree of blame of the other partner that goes on as you separate/divorce
Unfortunately, it happens all the way through the process of Divorce. It is normal, it is natural, but it is not real. Marriages break down. People get along or they don’t. What started out to be a wonderful relationship, full of love, joy, happiness, physical attraction and perfect harmony can break down for many reasons i.e. Different ideas or ideals, the family maze is to strong an influence on one or both of the partners, wanting different things, pressure, growing in different directions, breaking of trust and/or betrayal are only a few of the reasons relationships break down.
If your time together is over, for whatever reason, it is over. It is a hard pill to swallow but it is normal for some marriages to end.
That is so much easier than it sounds. Unfortunately, it is not easy. You can do it, but it takes time and patience with yourself and most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Often as marriages breakup, even though the friends you had in the marriage don’t want to not be there for you, it is not uncommon to loose the friendships you had in the marriage.
Friends from the marriage know you as a couple and when you break up they often don’t know how to be around you, some people get nervous or jealous around you, thinking that you are going to try to break into their marriage (crazy I know but it happens). It is not uncommon for friends to want to take sides, especially if they are in a relationship. Sometimes it puts couples own relationships under a microscope so they find it much easier to avoid you than look at their relationships.
True friends will still be there, but you may find the breakup a defining moment for who your true friends really are.
For many, the result is that they find their friend network minimal and find themselves in a position of needing to build new friendships as well when and if they are ready, find another love interest.
Getting back in the relationship dance
Finding the confidence to meet new people and trust and open up to another is a challenge in itself, but it is a challenge that, when you are ready, you are able to do.
Putting the past in the past is another part of the journey to rebuilding yourself. It is hard to not be gun shy in a new relationship, after all your divorce did turn your whole world on its head.
Take it slow, be open and honest, allow yourself to take your time, don’t have the wedding dress picked out on the 2nd date. You have all the time in the world. If this person is right for you, they will understand and they will be happy to be patient and to work through your feelings and fears with openness, kindness and compassion.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. This is not something that has a time limit. This process can and more often than not, will take years to get through. You will need someone to be there for you through this process. A close family member or strong friendship. Please don’t make it your children.
Even with that strong support network, there are times in the divorce process where you just need someone separate to everything, to talk to and bounce things off.