I think my oldest daughter was about six or seven and my youngest daughter was three when my husband left me for the first time. This only lasted a week. He moved to his parent’s house. I was so upset that my mom flew in from Florida to spend time with me and ended up having a heart attack at my house that day. She was ultimately fine, but it was bedlam at the time. My father flew in, and my older sister came to the house. Despite this serious medical scare, I was still focused on my own problems, not my mother’s health. Part of me was irrationally angry with my mom for having a heart attack, during “my time of need.” Seven days later, my husband moved back in, saying he made a mistake and that he really wanted to work things out. We went to a therapist and worked on our marriage. I was never convinced that he had come back for me; I always felt like it was for our kids.
About 5 years later, we filed for divorce. The kids were devastated. I tried to be really strong in front of the kids, but I was in a lot of pain. Even though I knew that he and I had simply grown apart, I had a hard time adjusting to the idea of being single, as a mother and an at my adult age. I had no idea how strong I really was. A lot of my focus at that time was to make sure that my kids were handling it okay. We did seek therapy to work on that, as well. I had a really good friend that used to tell me “it’s all about your kids.” What she meant is that no matter what my ex-husband does or has done, my focus should be on what is best for my kids. I really learned from this and tried not to expose them to my feelings about their father.
Divorce is a time of exploration. Many of us that have experienced divorce have looked at it in a different way.
I know as I entered into this crazy and unsettling process, I thought all kinds of things in my head, such as I am not strong enough and that I can’t survive alone. When we are a couple, sometimes the identity of “coupledom” defines us. However, we are not a label or a definition. We are so much more than that.
When a marriage ends, spouses and children often face a storm of stressful events, such as new living arrangements, time split with children between parents, decisions about money and property, and so on. Getting through these big life changes in the most mindful way is important.
No one wins in a divorce. No matter what it looks like, there is never a winner. There is just pain, stress and often hurt. As you look at such issues as division of property, custody, and support, keep in mind that this is not a game to win, just a new life to live.
Another thing that was essential for me to keep in mind at all times was that the adults are getting divorced, not the kids. Remember, your children are watching and listening. Both parties are important to them. Do your very best not to say cruel things in the presence of your children. Negative comments about the other parent can have a lasting effect on children. The less parents fight during a divorce, the less damage we do to our children.
Every divorce is different. No one can really advise you on what will happen or should happen. Each couple has a different set of issues. Your experience is just that, yours.
For me, as the stress of the meetings and lawyers wrapped up, I tried to focus on where I was at that time and bring more neutrality to my life as opposed to anger, disappointment, and concerns about failure. My life was changing and I wanted to embrace these changes as best as I could, even though I was very fearful. I was still raising my children with the man I was no longer living with or married to.
Life does go on after divorce, just as life existed before it. As we approach this newness in our lives with our children, it is so important to take time for self-care, self-reflection, and awareness. Awareness is key. The things we take away from the experience of divorce helps us grow. This is a positive process that offers us an opportunity to learn and evolve.