1/27/12

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.

23 comments:

Donna said...

Hi Vic, you have touched on a few good points here. Although my own divorce has been painful, I was advised by a friend that 'the best revenge is to live a long and happy life', something I am trying hard to do! I really feel for celebrities going through divorce,as their pain is so public, I don't know much about celebrity psychology and their sense of self, but perhaps it is even more fragile than most. I mean, any self doubts are made incredibly public and awful photos showing the ravages of grief- which in my eyes should be private- are out there for millions to see. Re your comment about offering support, I felt so guilty after my own divorce, realising that I had not fully understood the pain and had not been a huge support for any friends who had gone through it. Now I know to be there for as long as it takes. When we suffer a loss due to death, people offer cards, flowers, sympathy and give us the time to grieve. Divorce seems to be so common, is is as though we think it is 'just another divorce'. In reality we grieve the loss of a loved one, loss of contact with extended family or even our own children, loss of dreams, hopes, plans. Loss of the comfort of a friend who has known you for forever. In my case, my ex severed all contact, which I find hard to deal with, as we have 3 wonderful children together.I saw him for the first time in 5 years at my daughter's engagement. It was like a corpse walked into the room. One piece of advice I can offer is this. If you can, after a divorce, nurture yourself, you will grieve in your own way.It is a very stressful time, and you are experiencing the death of so many things. Find a few people who care for you and spend time with them. Spoil yourself sometimes. In my case, I took joy in buying myself lovely pieces of costume jewelery. Now I take pleasure in making my own jewelery for pleasure. It is so sad to see the awful stories coming up on your blog. The total betrayal of love and trust. But I have discovered in recent times that it is us who shape our lives and stories. After divorce, we need to create the best story we can, and we can write our own happy endings! So what if a few pages had to be rewritten or erased...

Anonymous said...

I got divorced a couple of weeks ago and yes, the support is not there. Friends don't really know how to handle things or be supportive. Like being friends with someone who's divorced would inspire you to divorce. There is something wrong with a society that celebrates marriages, provides support for funerals but treats divorce like nothing. I had a friend tell me that I was better off that he didn't want me. That life continued.

uk immigration solicitors said...

Divorce brings with it many negative emotions. Some of these emotions can cause stress that will interfere in our ability to function in our every day lives.

Lived, Lost, Loved, Still Lucid! said...

Wow, I think I just found my much needed life raft in your blog!

Felice said...

what a fabulous article - how do we get in touch with you - we would love you to write for our magazine.

jeanne@betterafter50.com

cordell said...

It's such an interesting post. I really like it. You shared a really good information I appreciate it. Thank you and keep sharing.

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Jeanne Muchnick said...

please please contact me at jeanne@betterafter50.com. we love your site and would love to have you write for us.

Anonymous said...

Divorce is devastating. Life sucks at 50. The realities are so stark, dark, and hopeless. That's the way it feels. I don't wish it on anyone, but don't quite feel for rich celebs as much as for the average working stiff - man or woman - who got the raw end of a breakup or divorce. So...50, alone, struggling, where to go from here? Who knows. I had no idea life would be so bleak at this stage of life. rec7cg@yahoo.com in case anyone wants to provide a cyber shoulder to cry on.

Anonymous said...

So true everything you wrote is exactly how I feel.bless you all, maybe divorce makes you more compassionate, because it hurts like he'll.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the friend, that's no friend. Make new ones with your new life it's tough but you do find out you true friends after divorce.

Anonymous said...

So glad I found this blog. I relate to many comments. I too am 50 and wondering.... Where to go from here!?! After being w/same person for 3 decades, yet having no choice but to sever legal ties....I never imagined this season of life being so trying! But we will do more than just survive this!

Amanda said...

Thank you for your blog. You are so honest and express the realities of mid-life divorce so well. Reading your posts has made me feel sane; like I have found a friend who completely understands, and is moving forward too. Thank you :)

Timothy J. Conlon said...

Your story beautifully illustrates the pain you felt and the strength you found after your divorce. The best thing a recent divorcee can do is to reach out to others in the community to find new friends with common interests. The legal aspects of divorce can be cold and unsatisfying, which is one of the main reasons individuals tend to become disheartened by the legal system after a divorce. It is so important to find emotional support in other places and your blog helps to serve that purpose. Timothy J. Conlon, Esq.

Anonymous said...

I had no choice after 30 years of marriage and at age 50 I am completely alone. He verbally abused me till I felt dead. He turned my 4 beautiful daughters against me with lies and Bible lessons he twisted. He turned my friends against me. I have no work experience, and we own nothing, nit even a house. I'm starting all over with nothing and all alone. I feel like my whole life died. I'm trying hard ti survive, it's just hard to know where to go. I'll be homeless in 2 months. My body aches and I'm lost. I hope this will be over soon and I can live again.

divorce said...

If you find yourself going through a divorce, you may be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, and you may even be wondering where everything went wrong. The one thing you do not want to do however is lose your train of thought, and perhaps risk everything you own due to that emotional trauma.

Anonymous said...

I'm also very lost right now. I feel very ambivalent about divorce vs staying with spouse for 29you years because of our daughters, 27 and 14. They're very close to him. He's a good dad but a compulsive liar and likes to keep secrets from me. It hurts.

Anonymous said...

If he's a compulsive liar, he's not a good dad. He's a bad role model. He's probably a cheater, too. I was married to a really good liar. I knew he was moody, volatile and unstable emotionally, but I thought he loved me. Then he cracked up and as a part of his recovery, he had to tell me the truth. It turns out he had a double life all of those years and was a serial adulterer. Live and learn. Let's see what the next chapter of my life holds.

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Atlanta Divorce Lawyer said...

Men and women in the process of divorce often find the holiday season to be the hardest. The winter holidays are synonymous with family gatherings and social activities. In a divorce, traditions and rituals can change, sometimes causing grief and anxiety for you and your children. The popular focus on holiday cheer and picture perfect family gatherings may only magnify your feelings of isolation and despair.
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Darcy Nimmons said...

You’re right; divorce affects everyone in different ways. I think the longer the marriage was, the more painful the divorce is. The higher one goes, the more painful the impact of the fall. There are so many stresses that come with divorce – emotionally, financially, and physically. It’s a wound, basically. No matter how deep that wound is, it’s going to heal, but the scar it leaves is permanent. What’s important is what we do to find happiness and normalcy during and after the process. A marriage is ending, but living doesn’t have to.

Laurice said...

Except in cases of adultery, where the offending party is specifically denied any right to spousal support, either party may ask for and be awarded spousal support. Support is generally based on the particular needs of the requesting party, ability of that party to support themselves, and individual sacrifices that party made to the benefit of the other.

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Eric K. Johnson said...

Sometimes it is important to learn how to say no in order to be in control of a situation. This is important in cases where one adult may try to manipulate the other.


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Sheamus Warior said...

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