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!

2 thoughts on “Divorce… the most underestimated form of grief

  1. Thank you for steering me to this blog. I remember one friend finally said to me “don’t call me again until you have something good to say…” because I just couldn’t stop talking about my pain. That’s when I figured out the only one who would ever “get it” was someone who had walked the same path. And in some ways it is even more difficult than a death. I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Thanks.

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