My Story Mondays: Divorce, Part Three
What Divorce Feels Like
Read The Quixotic Jedi's story over at his blog!
While I’m sure that every divorce experience is unique, I think I can safely say for all: divorce sucks. Whether you want to get divorced, or whether it comes as a surprise, or whether it’s just a welcome end to a relationship gone sour, I can think of at least 1,940 things I’d rather do than end a marriage. But, since this is “My Story Mondays” here is how divorce felt for me:
The moment I started packing my things to leave my ex, I felt like everything stopped: time, feelings, tears. I think I’ve explained before that the road leading to the initial separation was about three years in the making, but once I had actually DONE IT...I think I expected to feel something stronger. In fact, the only time I cried that night was when my little dog looked at me, sort of whined, and I realized he couldn’t come with me right then.
This numbness was followed by copious amounts of drinking. Also, starvation. I lost about ten pounds in the first few days, and literally survived on coffee, alcohol, and the occasional slice of pizza. Over the first three months or so, the numbness slowly grew into a dull ache, which in turn grew into a weird mania at my newfound freedom. My first dating experience? Wow...I was a nutcase.
(And all the while, oddly, I felt a sense of peace in knowing I had done the right thing. One thing that I believe is ubiquitous about divorce is that you will find yourself often feeling several contradictory emotions at once.)
Did I mention that I drank A LOT? For awhile, I spent all day feeling somewhat empty, and then at night, I CRAVED alcohol to just feel...gone, I guess? Drinking like that helped me sleep, but it also served to help me socialize enough so that I wasn’t left alone too much with my own scrambled brain. I am not condoning the drinking...in fact, I think that I am somewhat lucky that I didn’t do any serious physical harm to myself. I also sowed a LOT of wild oats, ifyouknowwhatImean. Wooooo!
Er, I digress. Moving on...
The only times I really cried was when I had to deal with my family. My parents were, hands down, the worst part of my divorce experience (and yes, I have told them this). I wasn’t desperately in love with my ex, but I was still experiencing the end of a five year relationship—a relationship that had, so far, consumed the whole of my adult life. I had never lived on my own before, or paid my own bills, or had to be responsible for myself, ever. And, the two people I should have been able to count on for support a) didn’t speak to me (my mother) and b) lectured me endlessly (my father).
In some ways, I understand why my parents treated me so...they were just as flabbergasted by my actions and decisions as I was (where did I find the courage to go through with it in the first place??). However, let me tell you how to damage a kid: let her sit by herself while she sobs. Do not touch her or offer her words of comfort, even though she is obviously broken and hurting. Do not speak to her for eight months afterward, and meet her continued efforts at reconnecting with a letter on her birthday that seeks to justify your silence.
Is it any surprise that I sought therapy? I was incredibly lucky to find a therapist that had an extremely similar background to mine. In just a few sessions, she helped me to be honest about my feelings, to get a hold of my drinking issues, and to develop a mindset that remained open to my parents. (BTW, if you’re going through or contemplating a divorce or a break-up, SEE A SHRINK. You are not weak for doing so, and it does worlds of good to talk to someone who is removed from the situation.)
The one thing that redeemed this time for me was that regardless of the pain, the drinking and whatever else, I experienced a creative re-awakening. During my marriage, I think I had shut down the creative parts of me because I couldn’t be honest about what I was feeling on a daily basis. And, if I couldn’t be honest about the little things, I definitely could not be honest about the bigger things that writing or performance often requires of someone. I started journaling like a fiend, and I FORCED myself to write exactly what I was thinking or feeling. The result was often ugly, but sometimes it was very beautiful, and I was able to discover some very key parts of ME.
Have you ever been through the end of a relationship? What did it feel like for you?
Don't forget to stop by TQJ for his story!
Did you miss Divorce, Parts One and Two? Read them in the My Story Monday archives!