Divorce: Liberation Day or Life Sentence
Posted under: Mind, Body, Spirit, Relationships
The early days after the judge signs off on the divorce decree will be filled with a confusing mix of emotions.
On the one hand there were perhaps feelings of relief, even elation, over the whole ‘thing’ being over and you being ‘free’. On the other hand there possibly will be an eerie sense of uneasiness as you looked toward a tomorrow that would be very different from so many yesterdays.
Some will respond like a kid in a candy store, chasing wide-eyed after every woman as if the sole problem was the ex-wife. There are others who withdraw into their work, home and TV room, or the bottle. Neither of these extremes will restore us to better places.
Facing Some Facts
There are a couple of things we probably need to wrap our heads around at the outset; even at the risk of stating the obvious:
- Whether we wanted to be divorced or not, the fact is we are divorced – so let’s deal with it accordingly.
- It is an opportunity to construct a different life – one that has learned from past mistakes and looks to be a better person going forward. The trick is to positively deal with the first and get onto the second.
The feeling of liberation may come from ending an emotionally painful ordeal. We may have been angry, frustrated and stressed beyond imagination, not only with the ex but also the relatives and the lawyers. When we realize that we will not face this every day, we feel we have been released from a prison in some way. So, it’s all good, right? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s just call it our Chapter Two in life chances – turn the page and write a new title at the top. It’s our book, so how’s it going to read?
Writing Chapter Two
Chapter Two can only begin when the judge declares Chapter One over and in what way it is over… even if ‘over’ lasts years into the future in the form of child support and alimony! In those first critical months after the close of Chapter One, we need to resolve to do a couple of things:
- Time Out for Reflection. Intentionally go sit on the ‘bench’ of life and take stock of yourself and what has just happened. A divorce usually involves two people failing at various aspects of the relationship, even if one might bare much of the blame. It may be a time for lots of journaling, reading and reflecting on the relationship and one’s own tendencies as revealed through it. Don’t be afraid to go ‘sit in the dark’ and think about this while it is fresh and nerves are tender.
- No Rebounds Allowed. There is a temptation to run out and get into the dating action immediately after the divorce, if not before. Basically, it is a false belief that you’re ready to move on. We’re probably not; we’re vulnerable – very vulnerable. Nearly three quarters of second marriages fail – be warned!
- Emotions and Technical Fouls. Many of us face lengthy and costly alimony and/or child support payments. And if they were not agreed to voluntarily, there is probably a fair amount of anger and resentment surrounding this. Each month a check is to be written, a reminder of the ‘foul’ you must endure each month for years to come. This is usually accompanied by at least some financial hardship on you as you must support two households.
- Alone on the Court. Dealing with loneliness and just learning to handle all aspects of living alone can be a real adjustment for some of us. Even if there was painful conflict in living with our spouses and family under one roof, there was a certain familiarity with it as well. Now it is just you when you walk in the door. More than that, now we perform all roles in our house. Shopping for everything, fixing meals, laundry, cleaning up the place, on and on.
Writing Chapter Two will not start off so smoothly, that’s a given. But it will get easier and we’ll even get to like many aspects of this life once we work through the early transitions to singlehood. If we aren’t afraid to deal with that period in ‘the dark’, we’ll be off to a great start with writing the rest of that chapter, line by line, page after page! Hopefully, single and midlife will turn out to be great places indeed!