Divorce… the most underestimated form of grief

It has been almost 20 years since my divorce from my first husband. When I met my first husband I look back and realize that marrying him was a very poor choice due to my immaturity. I lived with him for about 8 years and married him two weeks before giving birth to my baby girl. I would do it all over again (to infinity) just to have her in my life. She is my baby girl and one of the best things I have ever done. That being said, my relationship with my ex was anything but good. I will spare you the details so that I can stay on point. It doesn’t matter if you are married or living with someone, the pain of ending a long-term relationship can be down right devastating, in fact, living with someone can be more devastating due to the fact that when people hear you broke up with your boyfriend (been there too) they do not convey feelings like when they hear you are going through a divorce. A break-up with a boyfriend seems to be taken more lightly. But for the sake of story, I will refer to it as divorce.

When I was a child and then a teenager I remember hearing women rant as they gave advice about how they would act if a boyfriend misbehave. They would say things like ” I wouldn’t put up with that for a minute” or “he’d be out the door in a minute” and “leave his ass”. Turns out most of these women stayed in relationships way too long or are still in them. I learned talk is cheap. People can give advice based on their over inflated egos. Although, there harsh words did help me to leave a bad relationship because I needed to leach from their confidence as mine has just been sucked dry.

I remember when I was freshly divorced, I was so devastated and in shock, I didn’t think I could go to work. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or function. I lost a lot of weight, and all I wanted to do was to talk about my break up, over and over again. Talking really helped. But after a while those around me were burnt out and I could tell they didn’t want to talk about it anymore or at least so much. It is a weird place to be, you don’t feel like being alone. When going through a divorce your normal interests take a vacation and seem no longer interesting to you.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that the grief from a divorce can be so devastating it should be treated not like a death in the family for sure, but right below that, it is in a league of its own. The power of the pain divorce can inflict on someone is phenomenal. It is way underestimated. It can be sheer grieving, it was to me. When you are in the midst of the pain, you can feel as though you are in a vacuum, isolated by your all-consuming thoughts. You can look at those around you and view their problems as petty. You might think you will feel this way forever. I was convinced I would and that thought haunted me. It stifled my growth. I needed a lot of people to shout in my face that it WILL BE OK and IT WILL GET BETTER.  I found myself seeking out opinionated people, because I was desperate for any piece of advice that might help me. I bought self-help books and they helped immensely. When people seemed tired of talking to me, I would sit and read self-help books.

It seems that people forget how painful divorce can be. I didn’t. The pain helped me make better choices next time. It is amazing how the mind has a way of healing. Divorce physically felt like a blow to the brain; like it was bruised. It heals.

The good news is that it gets better. It really, really does. I wish more people had told me this. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes people give advice or comments you wish they would keep to themselves, like when my sister smugly told me to “get over it, you will live” and then the next day smugly stated to me ” see… you lived through the night”. She gave me that advice but when her relationship ended she had to go through divorce, she didn’t take her own advice, she was mean, angry, and blamed everyone around her for everything that was wrong with her life. Everyone responds differently, just like everyone grieves differently.

I ended up going to a therapist to talk with and get some feedback. It was the best thing I ever did! I highly encourage others going through divorce to do the same. Something else that I needed to hear was that I was not alone. People acted like I shouldn’t be upset after a day or two. I spoke with my mom on the phone for hours at night and that really helped. She understood to some degree. She helped just by listening to me endlessly and agreeing with me that the relationship was not a healthy one. I will forever love her for it. Praying to God also helped me. I have a closer relationship to God because of the pain.

For those of you in the midst of divorce pain, remember, you are not alone, it does get better (way, way, better) let yourself grieve, give yourself time to heal and seek out people that are understanding and things that are productive to your healing. When you are done grieving, don’t forget how you felt so that you may be a beacon of light to those you might encounter in your life that are going through the same situation. My heart goes out to any of you in this place, but remember it does get better!

Hang tight!

An exercise in relaxation… it will only take a moment of your time.

Take a deep breath… fill your lungs with air and hold it there for a few seconds… Keep your posture straight…let the air out….close your eyes…breathe again and hold it. Let out the air and think of releasing negative thoughts as you exhale.  Now negative is gone…continue slow deep breathing for a few cycles and weave in beautiful, peaceful thoughts (whatever that is for you) on your inhale. Now, your negative thoughts are released and peace and beauty reside in you. Continue your journey. Love sent to you all.

Too many lessons learned makes for a dull boy….

 They say it is ok to make mistakes if you learn from them and see them as a life lesson. Oh, I have made plenty of mistakes and I have learned from most of these lessons. I  know these lessons all too well having suffered the consequences from my mistakes. When I was just starting out on my own in my youth I had my strong opinions and ideas about how life should be and was going to be for me. Now that I am on the mature end of middle age and have children that are making opinions for themselves and one that is just starting to leave the nest, I find myself giving them advice that goes in one ear and out the other. I continue to give this advice hoping at some point it will be welcomed. The thing is I learned the hard way so much that I can’t bear to see my children make these mistakes and try my best to steer them in a direction that they can avoid this pain. It is actually painful for me to watch. I guess this is itself a lesson on letting go. I really do try hard at doing this. This morning my 19 year old daughter left for her new job as a barista at a drive through at 8 minutes till the hour she was supposed to be there. This is her two week learning period (like a probation period) before her barista test, a test to prove her skills and the employers time period to evaluate her performance. I have warned her every day and night to arrive 15 minutes early. This has fallen on deaf ears. I can’t stop myself though as I know this is a small town and there are not many jobs here and on top of that, she LOVES this job. I know how she will suffer if she loses it and I will also suffer the consequences directly and indirectly as I watch her fail 

In the past I have watched my own mother (and even a friend) try really hard to get jobs and then only keep them for a little while for some petty reason or another. I am pretty sure that if she had taken a true self evaluation she would have seen that the job was more than she could handle mentally or physically. I have also seen her try diet after diet. She will be so good at the diet in the beginning, lose a bunch of weight, gain a lot of compliments and then return to her previous weight before you know it. I found myself not wanting to compliment her on her weight loss until further into a diet because it seemed that the compliments preceded the failure of the diet. She has done this circus with jobs, diets and other ventures in her life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful relationship with my mom and I love the stuffing out of her, but observing her behavior has made me keenly aware of my own limitations.

Learning life lessons and being honest with myself and my limitations had made me into the person I am, stagnant and dull. I do not challenge myself very much anymore. I am not very adventurous or spontaneous because of maturity. I haven’t found much reward or success either way, young and dumb or old and knowledgeable.

So I proceed in life and continue to learn. It is my mission to figure a way to find a balance between learning the hard way and doing nothing because of it.

The guilty pleasure thats better than therapy

My guilty pleasure is something that might be viewed by others as not good for you or non-productive but it is anything but bad for me. My guilty pleasure is watching The Real Housewives Series on the Bravo network. It doesn’t matter which city it is, be it the Housewives of New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Miami or Orange County, I am addicted. It is a reality series that follows the lives of wealthy housewives. These women are shown being petty, angry and over the top. The series follow the wives through their relationships with their family and friends, reveals some pretty outrageous spending habits and showcases a lifestyle the average person has rarely if ever seen. There might be enough editing of the shows to set up the housewives to appear shallower than they seem.

I have been watching he Real Housewives Series for several years now. I used to change the channel when my husband came in the room as I know he has a low tolerance for behavior such as what the wives are shown exhibiting. But over the years he tolerates me watching it as long as he doesn’t have to watch it.  I think I call it a “guilty” pleasure because I feel like most people would share his view and I should feel shamed or something. But I am here to say, I am not ashamed and I know they would not keep the show on just for me.

I love these shows. I never have been a witness to the opulence of the homes some of these women live in. Yes, I think the women spend a lot of money very frivolously and can be very wasteful when it comes to spending grandiose amounts of money on events such as a 2 year olds birthday party. But, it opened my eyes to this behavior, I knew it existed but I had never seen it. I sit at home in awe watching and in my head silently talk to them “how can you spend $3000 dollars on a handbag?” “Don’t you know that would provide income for a needy family or provide medical help for some struggling family?” Yes, I do gasp at the way money is wasted on material things. This is part of the guilt for liking the show.

Besides the fact that I am no longer completely ignorant on how far someone can be wasteful, there are benefits I receive from watching the show. It is like therapy for me. When I have had a stressful day, I turn on the television and watch the Housewives. It is like an escape from my reality. It is like a fiction book is to some people. Yes, I should be reading, and I do read but if I really want to relax and take my mind off of my troubles, I will watch an episode. Sometimes just taking my mind off of my troubles by watching these shows can help me to step back and see my problems more clearly and help me to make more wise decisions.

Something I have noticed over the years as I examine the human behavior of these housewives is that I have seen these women grow from viewing themselves. At the end of every season there is the infamous “Reunion” show where all of the wives are brought onto a stage with host Andy Cohen (whom I just love). Andy brings up the highlights of the season and also asks viewer questions to the ladies. There can be a lot of arguing and things can get very heated when the dust that barely settled is again stirred up. After a few years of being on the show a housewife can really show that she has evolved into a better listener and her behavior seems to have improved as they have been held accountable for their actions and words by being filmed. This is when it is time for the housewife to be replaced. It seems that whenever one of the housewives that had out of control behavior in the past is now maturing, you don’t see them again next season. I would have to bet that when there is very little drama it doesn’t make for very high ratings.

All in all, I don’t take any of it too seriously. I get some therapy learning about human behavior and get a mind vacation. It seems that the housewives go through therapy themselves and become slightly better human beings because of it. I have really noticed this in the last year especially. Maybe I am justifying my bad behavior by stating this. Whatever the case, I am sure Bravo network will keep the drama coming. Thank you Bravo network for my guilty pleasure!