8/1/07

Break up and Divorce: Feel the pain and deal with it as it comes

The end of my last truly serious love affair just about killed me. My beau ended our relationship on the 4th anniversary of Bob leaving our marriage. I had met this man only 6 months after Bob left. My separation from my husband was intermingled with my sadness at losing my lifelong mate and the prospect of having this exciting new man in my life.

My new beau's presence masked much of the grieving I should have worked through. Instead of facing utter and total despair, I had a handsome man who was interested in me and wanted to take me out. The moment my divorce papers were signed, we began a full blown relationship. It was the strangest experience. At times I would cry on his chest and he would simply hold me. At other times I experienced the happiest moments of my life, for this man had children and I got a taste of what it was like to be a mother.

But rebound relationships rarely last. My beau was smart enough to notice that I had substituted him for Bob in many ways, especially when I threw parties and entertained friends. The more comfortable I became with him by my side during social get togethers, the more uncomfortable he became.

I should have known the end was near when all of a sudden my beau became "absent," as in no calls during the week and no emails. All of a sudden I saw him only at appointed times, and our dates became rushed because he always had someplace else to go. We spent a beautiful Christmas eve and morning together exchanging packages with his adult son before we separated to spend the holidays with our respective families out of town. I gave him a leather jacket and he gave me a DVD player. No alarm bells went off, just a small feeling of disappointment that there was no ring. When I returned from visiting my family, I saw a note from him in my mailbox. How sweet I thought, until I read the "Dear Vic ..."

I felt I was going to die. All the issues of my break up with Bob that I had been able to lay aside because of this new relationship came rushing at me. Along with having to face the loss of this wonderful man, I had to finally deal with the break up of my marriage, the loss of my father through divorce, and the loss of my son, who I gave up for adoption as an unwed teen mother. Once again I felt the stinging pain of divorce, only this time I was already divorced. Moreover, I felt the pain of all the losses in my life. I was 54 and felt like a useless piece of discarded garbage. One good friend made herself available morning, noon, and night. I called my mother endlessly. Both these loved ones saved me from sinking into a dark and deep depression.

Once again I lost a tremendous amount of weight. Once again I faced a birthday alone, feeling abandoned and discarded. I could not think. I could not work. I feared losing my job. I went to therapy again, only this time my therapist told me I was healed and that my reaction was normal. Feel the pain, she advised. Go with it. Let it all out. Write your feelings down (see post below.)

And I did. It took six months of agonized days and nights, and I had to fight to keep my sense of self-worth, but I emerged strong and healthy and more content than I had been in a long time. My friends had stood at the ready again, but not as intensely. This time I had to take the journey to self recovery largely alone.

In my third relationship, which occured last year, my new beau disappeared around Christmas. On January 3rd I gave him a call and told him what I needed. I could not face a third birthday feeling abandoned, so I asked him to let me go gently. A caring man, he allowed the relationship (a long distance one) to hobble along for another six months, which gave me ample time to get tired of our nonrelationship.

My therapist applauded my strength in taking positive action, although most self help articles will caution you against doing this. My beau was a good and gentle man and he did not play with my emotions. I felt I did what I needed to do to survive. A couple of friends told me I was nuts. Clean breaks are the best, they said. But this is my advice for you: Do what needs to be done for yourself. No one can tell you which actions are right and which ones are wrong. Only you know how you can best recover from a devastating hurt.

I am still friends with the two men I met after my marriage ended. The romance is over but the friendship remains. Of course, I am 58 years old, so this has a lot to do with our joint understanding. I have no connection or relationship with my ex, who has remarried, except for memories and through the objects and photos he left behind. Today I am as much in peace with my situation as I can be, given that I am a woman who loves being with a mate. I am proud of my career and ability to maintain my house, I love my friends and family, and I am often more content than I am not.

One of the best books I read that helped me understand why going through the stages of pain and grief are so important is called Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges. It's a business book, but it really describes what happens when you rush into beginnings and endings without dealing with the in-between transitions where change, acceptance, and recognition happen. William Bridges gives powerful, powerful advice which is applicable to life situations as well as the work place.

Here's a link that will also help you: Healing after Break Up or Divorce

5 comments:

Mom of 3 said...

This post is eerily reminiscent of my "divorce story". Wow! I too ran into the arms of a man who wowed me with his wonderful sense of humor and good company. It was so exciting to discover that men found me attractive and that I could have my choice of who I wanted to go out with.

Rather than deal with my emotions about the divorce, I chose to plunge into dating instead. How typical of the woman who's discovered her newfound freedom after many years of being with the same man.

After three months of feverish dating, and a short but intense time of dating one particular man, I had a semi-nervous breakdown. He broke up with me via email. If there's one kind of man I can't stand, it's a coward. I realized that it wasn't this man but my avoidance of emotion that was to blame.

I too had a near and dear friend who took my phone calls every day, sometimes more than once a day. She is my savior and a saint to boot. Thank the Lord she didn't have caller ID, I used to joke with her, for she might not pick up the phone.

Love reading you blog

Vic's Still Standing said...

Thank you for the compliment, Mom of 3. These friends are life savers, aren't they? Thank you for sharing.

FI0NA said...

It broke my heart to learn about your lost son. And did I read earlier that Bob had been against children... He took a lot with him when he went..

I recognise the process of cushioning your sadness with a new love, but you are right it is always there, it will come back one way or another, often I'm finding these days, in dreams.

ex girlfriend back said...

When I read this article...I remember my first break up in my life..

los angeles mediators said...

i can understand your pain as i am also the one that tolerate pain of divorce 2 times in 5 years. Both of time my los angeles mediatorshelp me to handle the situation and get this issue resolve peacefully