Not the life you choose
Life is full of shocks and surprises. Most of the events that take place in life are not planned or anticipated, we know that both good things and bad things happen to people but again we don’t always think they will happen to us. That is how I would begin to describe my personal experience of divorce. Divorce may not be the life you choose, it may be not something that you planned for but it can happen to anyone.
When I was first separated from my ex-wife I thought it would be temporary and that we would get things sorted out and we would be back together in no time at all. That wasn’t arrogance of minimising the situation I would say that at the time it was hope. When i moved into my first rented accommodation I had nothing at all except for a lilo (the kind you find on a beach) a pillow and sleeping bag, a kettle, a microwave and a kitchen chair to sit on. I recall each morning the shock, and I literally mean shock of waking up in a strange house with no one or nothing in the house.
I was living on super noodles because I was afraid to spend money on proper food as I had to start paying bills and rent on this prison that I had found myself in and I didn’t know if I could afford it or if I would end up broke and homeless.
I remember going to a second-hand charity shop to buy a couple of things I would need such as wardrobe and a coffee table. While I was helping the guy’s load up the van so that they could deliver them to where I was living at the time (I would not call it home), I got talking to one of the guys and told him that I was recently separated and that I need some furniture temporarily as I had but I was hoping that we would get back together soon. His reply was “The same thing happened to me and I thought we would be back together after 6 months…. that was ten years ago.” At that time I was in denial but I now realise how prophetic those words were.
We did not get back together again after 6 months and now it is just over 10 years since we separated and divorced, she has now remarried and I have a partner. I am fortunate enough to be with someone now who loves me for who I am and whom I love.
[pullquote]It’s ok to get angry but don’t stay angry[/pullquote]
I found many of those 10 years a real struggle one of the main things I had to relearn was who I was as you can lose yourself in a marriage, you change, adapt and can become someone who you don’t recognise from the person you once were. When I first lived on my own I had to rediscover who I really was, what kind of person I was and what did I want out of life now.
Separation and divorce can also change a person and send them into a tailspin. Over a period of less than a year I had too many changes in my life that made feel unable to cope. I lose of my wife, daily contact with my children, my home I had to move into a place I didn’t want to be in for many reasons that I don’t feel I want to discuss on here.
The final straw for me was when my circumstances at work at that time changed. I was working in a large training team and it was decided that we were going to be split up and moved in to different teams. I was manoeuvred into a position I didn’t want be and I hit rock bottom. to cut a very long story short I was diagnosed with low mood, put on antidepressant and I locked myself away in the house I was living and was off work for 6 months.
The house which I once considered to be my prison had become my security blanket but I consider myself lucky that I did not lose my job and because of that I am now in a better position.
On my journey through separation and divorce I have learnt a lot of things. a lot of them I wish I had learnt them before my divorce but I guess you only learn somethings by experience. I want to pass on to you some of the things I learnt on my journey just in case you need them.
It’s ok to get angry but don’t stay angry
like a bereavement people experience a lot of emotions. my observation is both bereavement and divorce is that people go from sadness to anger to acceptance. but sometimes people can get stuck in either sadness or anger. for your own well-being as a person going through a divorce is to move through the anger stage. One thing I will say and that it is OK to be angry as your life has been turned upside down, inside out and may be you now find yourself in a situation that you never wanted to be in.
Try to deal with the anger the best way you can, that could be going out into a middle of a field and shouting out at the top of you voice all the swear words and obscenities you can think of until you feel better. It might be something else that does it for you but I would say for your own benefit (and possibly children) lose the anger otherwise it will cripple you and you will not be able to move on with your life.
Be prepared to hear things that you never knew
I was married for eighteen and a half years and though I thought everything was OK but not perfect. After my separation I did get people coming to me from the church I attending into my home telling me things that they had known or had seen over the a few years that not only shocked me but also devastated me. My reaction at the time was that I hit rock bottom but then I thought to myself why didn’t anyone tell me, it could have saved my marriage (which I am now glad it is over to be truthful) but you will hear things from both family and friends that you never knew or realised.
Don’t make any quick decisions
When going through a separation and divorce no matter how you may think you feel if you are honest you thoughts and decisions will be clouded by your experience, emotions, suspicions and even pressure from you ex-wife or ex-husband to make to make decisions. I based my decisions based on how I felt about my children and my judgement was clouded by a depression I went through and looking back I made decisions that don’t make sense to me in hindsight as based on fear and anxiety. Through that I lost my share of the family home. When discussing the sharing of property I was given the impression that if I had half of the property then the Children would have to move home, move school and move from friends.
I was fearful as I was told that if I tried to legally get half of the property then the courts would only give me a small percentage and I felt I would lose that in legal fees too. I was convinced to hand over the house which I did. because of the fog I was living it never occurred to me that she was living in our house, with our furniture and our kids but also she had a new partner living with her who had house and property that was mortgage free.
I regret making many of the decisions I had made due to my frame of mind and wish I had been in the right frame of mind to make good decisions. So don’t be rash, pressurised or confused into making decisions. If you are being pushed into a corner then take a deep breath, say “I will think about it” to give yourself breathing space then maker a decision when you are ready.
You will lose some friends but you will survive
When I was married all of my relationships and friendships took place within the church. As a couple we had friends we would spend time with and go for meals with as both a couple and a family. After my separation my relationships just disappeared. My church friends only came to see me once to tell me stories about my ex-wife and the minister of the church we attended and then left me in misery. The Minister of the Church told people not see me or visit me.
I am probably fortunate as I don’t need other people really. I feel I am pretty self-sufficient, though I do appreciate the friendship, love and support of my partner now, but other than her I do feel I can manage without friends but not everyone is like me. Saying that I will say there was one person from the Church who did remain friends with me and tries to encourage me by saying “God still has a plan for me!” She knows who she is.
You will make new friends, may be people with a similar experiences. I did try to go to places to make friends but the best place is to find a hobby where people enjoy similar experiences as you. You could do what I did, I took up something I had never done before and that was dancing classes. I took up Ceroc which was great fun and I did make some friends at the time and it was great fun too.
Get legal advice
Did you know that you can get a 30 minute free consultation with a solicitor to discuss your position? It is worth doing, though to my regret I never did but you can learn from my experience. It is important to know where you stand legally with things like property, children, pension ect… Don’t listen to what the bloke down the pub told you or the friend at work said. they may never have faced what you are facing and if they had they might have dealt with a different kind person to you.
Don’t lose touch with your children
For me the thing that made both my life and marriage worthwhile were my children. After my separation the thing that I focused on more than anything else was my children and my relationship with them. Children need stability, they need to know you still love them no matter what has happened to your ex partner or what your ex partner says about you. Your ex partner will move on, your friends may move or evaporate but if you have a good relationship with your children they will hopefully continue to feel a part of your life and also be there in your future.
Don’t be afraid to love again
How many times have you heard the phrase “Once bitten twice shy” a few times I am sure and you probably have said it yourself. Not everyone is like your ex partner, there are people who have experienced the love and loss that you have and try to be open to be loved again and also give love. It won’t be easy as naturally you will want to protect yourself from being hurt again, we naturally want to protect ourselves. I am not saying you take everyone and everything at face value that would be silly but be open to the possibility of being loved and accepted for who you are.
I am going to blog about gut feelings at some point but I am a great believer of going with intuition (gut feelings) if you have a bad feeling about someone then step back and watch the last thing you need to find yourself in a position you just came out of. The message here is don’t rush into anything.
You can’t move back so move forward
Unless you have some kind of time machine like the TARDIS then the only option to someone who has come out of a long-term relationship is to move forward as you can’t go back. There will be things that you will miss from you marriage like the feeling of family, stability or simply someone to confide in and ask advice but you can’t go back. In fact I would have no wish to go back as I have realised that you can lose yourself in a relationship trying to please someone else all the time.
If you look back on you past relationship you will realise that it wasn’t perfect. You can only move forward and if this is new to you will find that really you don’t want to go back. Whether you remain single (and that is ok, you are more than just a partner) or go into another relationship keep moving forward, it is tempting to look back at the good times but you can’t bring them back and once I accepted that I could move forward.
As I said earlier you will go through a grieving period, you will feel sad, you will feel anger, you will even hate your ex partner and that is ok, it really is ok! but then move on. Don’t jeopardise your future by dwelling on the past. you have a happy fulfilling full of discovery ahead whether single or alone.
Take time to rediscover who you really are
I don’t know if your experience is like mine but I lost myself in my marriage, I was a husband, father and a provider and suddenly that is all taken from me. I found myself living house and thinking “Who am I” You may find yourself in the same circumstances depending on your situation. I was still a father yes but i didn’t see my children everyday. I didn’t get to kiss them good night every night and see them at breakfast. Over the years I have had to discover who I am and in a way that has been a good thing as I now have a different relationship with my children, I am not sure what they would say but I think it is a better relationship than any I would have had previously.
I found out I can be self-reliant, that I can make decisions on my own without having to refer back to my ex-partner. I have discovered things that I would never have even thought of doing before I now listen to new music, go to different kinds of concerts. I have discovered I can dance. I am now in a better, much more equal relationship than I have had before. It wasn’t an overnight realisation or change it took many years, I went through many dark times as well a good times.
You may feel that life is coming to an end as your relationship ends but it isn’t. It could be the start of a whole new life, a new direction as the new decisions you have to make will push you in a different direction. You will discover that you can do things that you never imagine or thought about previously. An end of a marriage or long-term relationship is not the end of life but the beginning of as new adventure.
I promise it won’t feel like that to begin with but my advice is keep your head, watch your heart, love your kids, appreciate your family, make new friends, embrace changes and take new opportunities that you were not able to take before. My final word is do not let your life repeat the same mistakes as you made before, determine in your own mind the kind of relationship you want to be in before you commit yourself that is if you decided you want to be in another relationship, you don’t have to be in one you can live happily as a single person.
Rating this experience
I could not really give this experience a star rating as it has been a painful and difficult time in my life. Saying that the last seven years have been five stars as I now have a new job, a partner that genuinely cares about me. I have two children, though now grown up into adults I love dearly.
Would I change anything other than how I dealt with my divorce? No i still consider myself fortunate to be in the position I am in now!