Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true, because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and…they just had a great thing, and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times.
— Louis C.K.
A few years ago, when I was in the midst of my very very difficult and horrible divorce, I did a lot of reading about divorce, loss and grief. I learned that divorce is like a death and — in some ways worse — because the pain of betrayal and hurt is so intense. When once you were partners and lovers — now you feel like enemies. And it hurts. A lot.
For me, it felt like a primal hurt, something so deep, so much more painful than anything I had ever experienced.
I read that for the first couple of years, through separation and signing the divorce papers, you are essentially “crazy.” This is not a psychological assessment, but crazy is what it feels like. One minute you’re up and feeling great and powerful and hopeful — and then the next minute, you’re feeling scared and like a failure, and wondering if you will ever find love again.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
As difficult as the divorce was, it also showed me how strong I am. The most important lesson I learned was: You do not have to do it alone. Get help. Get support. Talk to friends. See a therapist. Find a support group. Whatever works for you, one friend, fifty friends, find people who have been through divorce and are now living beautiful lives. I think that was the healthiest thing I did — learning how to ask for help. And for me, that was challenging. I had always been the strong one, taking care of everyone else, helping my mother the last years of her life, raising my daughter, caring for my husband, friends, two dogs.
But while I was going through the first few years of the separation, I got help. A great deal of help. And I wrote every day in a journal and I spoke about my feelings. I got them out, I didn’t let them fester. Is there a better word than fester? Aggravate, worsen, make bitter.
My advice: Cry. Often, if you need to. Get a plastic baseball bat and hit a pillow, hard. Take kickboxing or run. Dance. Do yoga. Meditate, even just for five minutes a day. Move the feelings through your body. It’s healthy. It’s good self-care.
Have faith. Whatever spiritual path you are on, even if it’s just the smallest fragment of some kind of belief, hold onto it. For me, Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart was extremely helpful.
Create a soundtrack for your life. Mine included: Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” Patty Smith’s “Goodbye to You,” and Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You.” And, of course, the universal divorce anthem, Gloria Gaynor’s: “I Will Survive.”
Life gets better. It really does.
I haven’t met another man to love, but I am enjoying my freedom. I live in gratitude for the beautiful, imperfect life I have now. It’s so much better than the old life I had — when my ex and I were just going through the motions and neither of us wanted to be there.
Two years after our divorce was final, I wish him well and I think he wishes the same for me. We share a daughter — we’ll always be connected through her. I still feel sadness sometimes, but my life has expanded in so many ways — and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in that difficult time. I learned I’m strong. I learned I’m not alone and that I have a great support system. I learned about empathy and compassion.
And I learned that through difficulty, new opportunities really do help you rise.