Margaret Atwood once said: ‘Divorce is like an amputation, you survive it, but there’s less of you”.
Divorce infiltrates every aspect of your life
Few life changes are as consequential as divorce. No matter how indestructible you think you are, divorce will infiltrate every aspect of your life.
It will propel you head first into what seems to be an alternate reality – only somewhat recognizable, yet changing at warped speed.
The consequences at every level are too immense for even the strongest person to handle alone. Divorce affects too many aspects of your life all at once; it feels like a constant a juggling act.
The emotional impact may seem obvious, but it can take years to fully reveal.
It takes a village
Now more than ever, is a time when you need family, friends, and a community. It’s wise to go into divorce with as much support, intel and advice as possible, then weigh it against what you really want.
While friends and family are imperative to have around during divorce, the bummer is that most people in your world just do not understand exactly what you are going through.
When I went thru my divorce, I had only recently moved to the area and had no close friends or family around. It was REALLY tough. I was lonely, scared, and in pain with no one to talk to. I so wished I could have whined over some wine with gal pals when I was down in the trenches.
And it always irked me when people said “I’m so sorry” upon telling them that I’m going thru a divorce. I hated that look of pity and despair on their faces whilst dispensing their ‘sorry’s.’ Like as if my life was over. I’m divorced, not dead… don’t be THAT sorry.
Plus, if they knew my husband, they probably would’ve said something like: “That guy was THE WORST, good for you for finally mustering up the courage to leave him.”
Well sure, my life was changing, and true, divorce is hell on earth, but I’m still breathing. Had I actually stayed in my bad marriage, well then maybe I’d really warrant their ‘sorry’s’ because I’d surely be dead, maybe not in body but definitely in spirit.
I wish I could change the stigma of divorce. The revamped attitude toward divorce should be oriented in growth, new beginnings, and open doors… not demise, endings, and finality… as much as it often feels like that.
You WILL Get Through It
The subsisting in limbo one feels during the divorce is just that, a limbo, a transition period that I wish more people would realize. The key is to gravitate toward people who can be supportive and encouraging through the process. After all, you have to get through it to get over it.
In defense of anyone who’s never been through it, there are no good, canned, go-to one-liners to throw at your divorcing friends. But I’d recommend a smile and simply: ‘you’re going to be fine!’ Because that’s what I was telling myself, almost constantly, and that’s the affirmation I wanted to hear. Because I was going to be fine, and so will you, eventually.
You Need a Divorce Community
Relating to people going through divorce at the same time as you can provide support, comfort, and solace in knowing you’re not going through this alone. You can bounce ideas off each other, share stories, and give/get (warranted) advice. Also, a good ol’ fashion b*tch session just feels SO good sometimes. Divorce Meet Up groups, support networks, or online communities are abundant. Find one!
I also sought out people who had already been through a divorce, or two. I always enjoyed hearing the survival stories of people who were already on the other side. It was inspiring to see that they were still standing, even smiling and happy. I knew I was in the depths of my long, dark, divorce hole, but that there was a light at the end of this drudgery. These already divorced fellows were walking proof that I, like many others before me, would survive.
Build Your Divorce Team
But emotional support is only one piece of the puzzle, the expert advice of divorce professionals will be indispensable. Attorneys, financial advisors, therapists, child psychologists, tax consultants, mortgages advisors, credit experts, and even Realtors can all provide essential information.
Engaging a plethora of advisors may seem expensive, but considering what’s at stake, they are worth it.
Seek help proactively. Experts help can you survive divorce with the least amount of damage, protecting you from your own worst impulses during your time of deep emotional distress.
Hearing sometimes commonsense advice from an objective source is invaluable. Sometimes you realize that some things just aren’t worth fighting for. For example, if you are fighting over your house, but then after months of fighting and legal bills to match, you finally see a Loan Advisor. He makes you both realize there is actually no equity in the home, and keeping it would be insanely expensive and unaffordable anyhow…now neither of you want it anyways.
The stress and dire emotions can thrust you into survival mode (fight, flight or freeze), prompting bad judgement calls, and short term thinking for decisions that have long term consequences, and can delay financial recovery.
Keep your eyes wide open, stay calm, educate yourself, and seek help from experts. Your heart may be broken but please keep using your brain! But also know that your decision-making skills might not be at full capacity. But you don’t have to go thru this alone, and shouldn’t.
So if divorce is like an amputation and changes your world, think of your new world as an alternate universe where limbs grows back, maybe different than before, but much stronger and with thicker skin.
With the right support network, divorce can actually be an opportunity to begin building a better life and stronger future.
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