Divorce brings out the worst in the best of us. I did some hard to admit and crazy things during my divorce. If you did too, don’t beat yourself up!
The first information I’d like to share is, I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist. The second is, with all my education and professional knowledge divorce nearly cost me my sanity. I did crazy things during my divorce that I would have, in the past, labeled others crazy for doing.
What I’m trying to say is, we all lose our shit a bit when going through a divorce. The good news is, if we are able to eventually take a step back and own our crazy, we are all able to heal, accept and move on after a divorce.
Why we lose our shit during divorce
Divorce in short-term marriages where there are no children aren’t as stressful and those in long-term marriages with children, assets to split and decades of dreams, plans and memories to work through.
Here is the hard reality. Even if you wanted the divorce, you will mourn. If you have children you’ll face raising those children with a man you no longer want, or one that no longer wants you. No matter what the circumstance there will be anger, blame, and resentment, at some point. People will talk, take sides and friends will be lost. The legal process of dismantling a partnership will make you feel like pulling your hair out.
Divorce is the pits. Is it any wonder even the best of us can hit our lowest during and after?
10 crazy things I did during my divorce. Learn from my mistakes!
I begged. When I found out about his affair and desire to leave me for her I lost all sense of decorum. I became someone I didn’t know. I cried and pleaded with the man who had cheated on me to not leave me. I used our children and their wellbeing to try to get him to stay. I pulled out all the plugs when having sex with him. Yes, I had sex with a man who had cheated on me. I gave him to best I had to give. It didn’t save the marriage but he walked away with some damn good between the sheets memories.
I got angry as hell. Once I saw he was serious and would follow through with the divorce, I made him pay. I, once again, used our children. To punish him I’d make excuses for why they couldn’t spend time with him after he had moved out. We’d make plans for them to visit him and then I’d change those plans. Not only did I hurt him, I hurt my children also.
I contacted the woman he was leaving me for, and her husband. I wrote angry emails and text messages to her. I tried to enlist her husband’s help in stopping the divorce. I had no pride! I was Jekyll and Hide! I tried to manipulate by being kind, when that didn’t work I tried to punish by being cruel. By the time I was through spreading my anger around, everyone involved was muddy and exhausted.
I was blindsided by rage and hurled it in every direction. It was momentarily satisfying but soon followed by a whole lot of remorse.
I went after him legally. I found a hard ass attorney to help me take him to the cleaners. I wanted him left destitute. If he were going to leave me for another woman I was determined that all he would have was that woman. I asked for a 60/30 split of all our assets. I asked for full legal custody of our children. I asked for the home, all equity in the home and that he continue to pay the mortgage on the home until our youngest reached the age of eighteen. In the end, I got what was fair and equitable but it took me a few months to think of it as “fair and equitable.”
I cried. I cried in the drive-through lane at McDonald’s, in line at the bank, in the carpool line at our children’s schools. I cried and told anyone who would listen to me what was happening. I not only muddied his name all over town I made myself look like a fool. There is a time and place for crying. My time and place was anytime and everywhere.
Wine, wine, and a little more wine. I drank to numb the pain. I drank expensive wine, cheap wine, wine I didn’t care for the taste of. At least 3 nights a week I drank myself into a stupor after putting our children to bed. And, I did all that drinking alone. I never passed up the opportunity to drink shamelessly and in large quantities…all by myself.
I slept on the couch for 6 months. Most nights I slept in my clothes. I was exhausted emotionally and physically and the thought of sleeping in the bed that I once shared with the man who no longer wanted me was too much. Being alone, without him in a California King would have driven me over the edge. Even after redecorating the bedroom and getting a new mattress, it took me weeks to become comfortable having the entire bed to myself.
Kept my father on the phone for hours. At 2 am in the morning! My Dad has always been my biggest fan. Being left did a number on my self-esteem and feeling of worthiness. I needed to hear, from a man, that I was still a good person, a deserving person an attractive person. I will be forever grateful to my father for his willingness to be that man for me when I so desperately needed confirmation from a man that I was good enough.
I shopped. My mother always uses shopping to soothe herself emotionally. I’ve always prided myself on not needing such “shallow” soothing. Well, I don’t know if I did it to soothe myself or to run up more debt on our credit cards as revenge. I purchased a new car, I took our girls shopping for new clothes. I picked out 10 different charities and donated $200 to each. I paid for a free facelift consultation and gifted that to the other woman. I opened a Victoria’s Secret account in both our names and spent oodles of money on new lingerie for myself. I also purchased her husband who had been out of work due to health issues a new suit to wear to their divorce hearing. I went through some money! And, he voluntarily paid off the debt. I don’t know now whether to feel ashamed of myself or happy that I got a modicum of revenge.
I let fear take over. My fear during and after my divorce was free range. It impacted my parenting, my work life, my social life. Hell, it impacted what I watched on television. I was terrified of romantic comedies or anything that depicted a happy couple. My fear became so palatable that I started taking anti-anxiety meds. In my profession, I have knowledge in how to handle stress. During my divorce, I allowed stress to guide my decisions cause me to make bad choices during the legal process of divorce and almost cost me my ability to function as a parent and at work.
Allowed the “green-eyed monster” to take over. He was happy, I was jealous. I stalked his and her Facebook pages and saw the vacation photos, photos of their new apartment. Photos of them kissing. Read posts where they professed their love for each other. I lived so deeply inside my belief that if I weren’t happy he shouldn’t be either. He had moved on and I wanted to also. My obsession with his happiness delayed my own ability to move on and find happiness of my own. For 18 months after the divorce was final, I stewed in my own jealousy and misery and gave him control over what kind of life I led. That is the craziest thing I did and, it was something I did to myself.
It was hard coming face-to-face with the ugly side of my personality. I look back now to my pre and post-divorce self and realize I was rather arrogant. Pre-divorce I’d judge clients for the ugly things they did during divorce. I thought myself above stooping so low. But, I wasn’t. I got down and dirty and learned a lot about myself in the process.
I now know that when adversity strikes no one should be judged by their reaction to it. I also know that even with my education and experience counseling other couples when adversity strikes I’m as likely to go crazy as anyone else.
After my divorce, I began to view my clients and myself in a different light. I offered them and myself understanding and compassion for what is a harrowing experience. I hope you will do the same for yourself. We should all do our best to put our best foot forward in any situation but, if your divorcing or divorced and get a bit off track emotionally, give yourself a break, show yourself compassion, learn from your mistakes and do better next time.