The Stress of Divorce

No one can predict how they will react to the stress of divorce until it happens to them.

I never thought that the time would come when my soul mate would leave me. We had survived over 26 years of marriage, the first six of which we worked during the day and attended school at night. We could not sell our first house and had to carry a mortgage while paying rent and attending school, never knowing we qualified for food stamps. We never felt poor, you see, and regarded our life as a big adventure.

We bought our second house during the early eighties when double digit mortgages were the norm, and did not finish paying back our school loans until well into our forties. I enjoyed only 5 years of financial good times before my husband got restless and left.

At 50 I was caught flat footed and completely by surprise. We had weathered so many storms to achieve our dreams. I was sure we were coasting into the third chapter of our lives together, which included plans for travel and building a lake house.

The stress of his leaving was so overwhelming that the pain felt physical. I didn't know where to turn, and so at times I simply curled up in a ball and cried until I was spent. Everything I ate tasted like chalk, and I spent my free time exercising as if to exorcise my demons. I worked three jobs, and ran myself ragged trying to maintain the house alone and learning the ins and outs of finding a good lawyer. I was in survival mode. I lost weight, took anti-depression drugs, and got a dog so I would have a reason to come home after work.

Looking at the pain that Demi Moore is going through, I can heartily sympathize with her. Drugs and alcohol provide only temporary relieve, and sleepless nights take their toll. One must live through the pain, fear, loneliness, bewilderment, and sense of failure and betrayal - there is no way to escape it, as I am sure Demi is learning.

One can see the pain in the recent photographs of Seal and Heidi Klum. Both have that deer in the headlights look and faces devoid of expression, like people in shock. Even though they have put their best feet forward, we divorcees know how hurt they are feeling.

The stress of divorce hits all of us differently. Even when I found someone new shortly after Bob left, I would cry in his arms. Thankfully, he understood (for he was recently divorced), and simply held me. While that rebound relationship did not survive, we are still friends to this day.

When I encounter someone who is going through the raw pain of a recent separation, I make myself available to them. No fear is too trivial. No betrayal is too small to share. I simply let them talk.

Sometimes, as a few readers of this blog have commented, time does not heal all wounds. We simply learn to go on and live our lives in a different way than we intended.


January, the month for divorces

I certainly didn't know on January 4th, 2000 - the day that my husband informed me he was abandoning our marriage - that January is known as "Divorce Month" and that the first Monday of the year is known as "Divorce Day". This makes sense, of course, since the spouse that is leaving probably made it their New Year's resolution to opt out of the marriage.

During our last holiday together, I did not understand Bob's cold/ice cold to freezing moods. On October 30th he had held my hand as we attended a local festival and told me how much he loved me; by January 5th he had taken the guest room furniture and his desk, books, and clothes and moved into an apartment he had found in early December. I asked him why he had waited to leave me, why not before Christmas? He did not want to ruin my holiday, he said. (As if I would not notice his scowls when he looked at me and constant disapproval of everything I did.)

Bob's treatment of me during the subsequent months ended my respect for him, thankfully so, for I cannot love someone I do not respect. And so, within 11 months of his departure, after 26 years of marriage and 32 years of friendship, Bob got his divorce, a new fiancee, and a new life. I got the house, a job, and a dog, and, due to a drastic loss of appetite, finally lost the 40 lbs. I'd been meaning to lose for the past decade.

If you have come to this blog seeking answers, I'm afraid I have none. I can tell you that the raw emotions you are experiencing are shared by many others going through divorce, and that I too felt the extreme hurt and pain and bewilderment that you are feeling now.

Just know that you have family and friends you can depend on. Just know that in the fullness of time, your world, which now feels horribly out of kilter, will right itself again. Just know that you are worth loving and that you will be loved again.