Just in case you may have forgotten, you are wonderful, irrepressible, indomitable and unforgettable Believe and Live Again Divas.
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter, I sure did.
I have been reflecting over the past couple of days on how best to add value to all of you wonderful people out there. I decided that today’s blog will be dedicated to sharing a snippet of the emotional divorce roller coaster I rode on some years ago. I hope it will make you laugh through your tears, demonstrate that you are not alone, it’s not your fault and inspire you to move on from that closed door of your past into the waiting open door of promise, adventure and boundless opportunities. You can do it – I believe in YOU.
During the initial stages of the breakdown of my marriage, it was really hard to not be hurt, depressed and emotional at every turn, while the world was going about its everyday business as if nothing had happened. I kept screaming inside:
“Can’t they see I am aching inside”?
“No one really cares or understands what I am going through”;
“I was a failure as a wife, as a woman and as a Christian”.
If that wasn’t punishment enough:
“How dare they show those romantic movies on True Movies, Hallmark, ITV 3 or Sky Movies Drama and Romance Channel 308”?
“Can't those people hold hands and nuzzle each other somewhere else, why in my eye view”?
”Can’t the couples on the bus or on the escalator at Charing Cross British Rail station go get a room”?
"To think that was us, he and I at Waterloo tube station in the early 90’s”?
“What!!!! Nostalgia at this time. Do I really need this NOW”?
“How Dare Heart 106 FM play those sad love songs”?
You might remember my previous blog where I talked about looking at my hoards of shoes. The bulk of them were bought during this period....retail therapy . I literally went crazy to the displeasure of my accountant and bank manager. I even have a picture frame that was given to me as a gift at the time, with the caption “So Many shoes, so little time”
I look back now and I am amazed and somewhat bemused that I felt all these emotions and displayed many erratic shopping tendencies. (I am not too sure about the shopping..smirk! smirk! Seriously though, It seems so long ago and really rather unreasonable. But as usual, this is only with the benefit of hindsight, healing and making the choice to BELIEVE and LIVE AGAIN. It is easy to say that now.
I also know that many of you reading this may be feeling just like I did, going through your own negative self talk, rehashing the past, the tears, the blame. No two divorces or long term relationship breakdown stories are alike but the traumatic emotional roller coaster is. Research has shown that the grief of Divorce can be likened to the loss a loved one through death especially in terms of the finality and intensity of the pain.
You may have undergone the legal divorce process or doing so now and struggling to come to terms with it as well as reclaiming your life as a single person. Please, I implore you, don’t be anxious about the future, live in the now, because believe or not “this too shall pass” it did for me and can for you, but the choice is yours.
There will always be an adjustment/acceptance period after the trauma of divorce.
This adjustment period (whether you or your ex spouse left the marriage or relationship) could typically be anything between two and five years, depending somewhat on the amount of pre-grieving you may have experienced. Some people begin the emotional journey when they realise the marriage is dead - sometimes well before the actual mention of the word "divorce" in the marriage. I know I did. My marriage was more or less bad from day one – I spent many gruesome years – from even before our wedding day in 1996 praying and grieving in equal measure – I was almost always so incredibly sad but in denial and really believed that my prayers would turn things around. It didn’t get better as both parties have got to want it to work and be prepared to work at it. However, the wonderful and positive thing out of this for me, was that I had gone through the pre-grieving process long before he finally left and I received the divorce papers in the post almost 10 years later. My adjustment period post divorce was therefore quite short in comparison – I think because of all the front loaded emotional turmoil from the onset of my marriage.
For me, during the early stages after divorce, I was confused and had no idea what to expect. All I knew is that I wanted desperately to close my eyes, wake up and find everything was OK. Quite frankly, all I wanted was to find a way out by accelerating (or even bypassing) the painful first stages in order to reach a place where I could feel whole and happy again. Sadly, I realised that, although my recovery from divorce was considerably short in comparison, it still was not an express escalator in a five star hotel going up from the basement of grief to the penthouse of joy. Instead, I found it to be more like the maze at Hampton Court: where you go forward a bit, get lost, become confused, find the way forward again, hit a wall of bushes and shrubs, retrace your steps, find a new way forward, realise you took the wrong turning and back-track again. Divorce for me was like wandering through a hall of mirrors, then confronting your reflection suddenly - or parodies of what looks like yourself - around every corner.
Divorce is an emotional roller coaster - a ride more terrifying than the Tower of Terror (in Hollywood Studios, Disney World, Orlando) which in my opinion is perhaps the most intense thrill ride that Disney World has to offer. Dropping you 13 stories beyond gravity. Imagine that being your Divorce journey but not just a 3 minute ride but lasting a possible 2 years at a minimum? Now that is a journey, I would not wish on anyone.
Getting through my first year after Divorce
My first year was characterised by denial, disbelief, numbness, relief, acute periods of pain, and back to numbness again. This is what I call the divorce roller coaster, which included periods of euphoria ("how nice not to be subject to emotional abuse anymore!") followed by deep lows ("oh no! He has really gone – he has left me and I am all alone!").
During the first year, I often felt like a robot going through the motions of living without really participating in my own life, or like an unwilling patient in the dentist’s chair – which to me is almost as bad as labour in child birth.
The reality of it all was that although I wanted to curl up and die, I had to attend to all the ever present legal processes and keep up appearances for the sakes of my two young daughters.
My advice to anyone going through the divorce process is to somehow develop a split personality: one part of you for grieving and the other part of you for calmly be able to fill the associated legal disclosure forms. This is also crucial if, like me, you have children. Remember, no matter how young or old they maybe, they are grieving and adjusting to their new situation, too. Devoting some time to helping them through this painful transition every day is of upmost importance - but not to the detriment of your own emotional and physical well-being. You cannot afford to neglect yourself in favour of them! Note, and I am speaking candidly from experience, you cannot help your children if you're teetering on the brink of a breakdown yourself.
The initial shock surprisingly does wear off, and what you may find is that the next stages of recovery will be characterised by a period of reorganizing and re-examining your life, but this has to be a deliberate and intentional step that you would need to take. You will probably begin searching for answers to questions both large and small. Where do I want to live? How will I support myself? Will I be able to keep up various domestic household payments? Will my spouse make support payments? Should I buy a new car? Should I go back to school? Who will care for my children while I am at work? This is really a busy time. It is a time where one cannot afford wallowing in self pity and grief although you may still be reeling.
The Final Stages of Recovery
In my case, I found that by the second or third year after my divorce, my life started to move along in a more predictable path. I cried or felt sad maybe once a week, which in turn gradually became once a month rather than once a day. I had finally accepted this part of my life and was now moving on.
I would say that complete divorce recovery usually requires about three years; of course some people require less time, some require more and some people never get over it. In my Believe and Live Again workshops and 1 to 1 coaching and mentorship programmes, I have had participants who had been divorced for more than a decade and sadly prior to attending had not achieved closure and locked in their past unable to move on.
A question you may be asking is “Will I ever "get over it?" And my answer to you is a RESOUNDING YES. Let me guarantee you that with time, the pain and confusion lessens, but expect to be ambushed by grief or readjustment anxieties from time to time. For instance, you could get overcome by grief or anger during parent's evening at your child's school, on your wedding anniversary 10 years after your divorce; when your child graduates from university or when you and your ex spouse attending the wedding of one of your children. However, because you have chosen to take positive strides towards healing, as well as deliberate and intentional steps towards regaining your feminine power and reconnecting with your sense of self – you have moved into the realm of boundless and radiant opportunities – new ventures, new relationships and a better you - leaving the past behind. It is a past that no longer exists in your now; it is a past that you have no power to change, so why dwell on it?
Move on and leave all anger, hurt, bitterness, resentment, blame and disillusion behind. As you begin this journey of personal rediscovery, self love and freedom you will find yourself released, renewed and re-ignited. Empowered with a new enthusiasm, passion and zeal for the transformational reinvention to a better life and better YOU. It is at this point that you know that you have truly chosen to Believe and Live Again
Believe and Live Again Diva! Remember you are Irrepressible, Indomitable and Unforgettable and I am so proud of you,
As Ever, Muwah