Divorce, by nature, is a jealous, destructive, hateful beast. It tears everything you know apart at the seams, turns it all upside down, and brings out the rawest emotions in everyone involved. If you have gone through it or are going through it, you are justified in feeling lost, afraid, and unsure about every aspect of your life, and you have earned the right (rather, a necessity) to step back, feel numb, and slowly piece your life back together.
No two divorce beasts are alike, but they’re all ugly. Understandably, some marriages (and subsequent divorces) have the extra added element of abuse in its various forms or exes who refuse to let go and let us move on with our lives. These divorces will be even more complicated, and the claws are in deeper. Some divorces refuse to feel final no matter how long ago the ink dried on the papers because healing hasn’t been able to occur or the wounds keep being torn open by unresolved issues from the past.
So, when we divorce, we all find ourselves in pieces. Some of us are more aware that a divorce is coming than others and can brace better for impact. Some of us have started to process all of our break-up emotions while still legally hitched and leave a finalized divorce feeling already on the way to recovery. Many of us are blindsided by the hurtful actions of spouses we loved and trusted and find ourselves shaken to the core with betrayal or shock.
Divorce is designed, at a base level to create a schism. What was once one becomes two as the result of a pile of papers and the pounding of a judge’s gavel.
The property and memories, and even children become divided between two people who once shared a life, and bit-by-bit, everything crumbles into a million little pieces.
Each piece has to be recovered and assessed before we can move on or heal. Some of the pieces are precious, and we hold onto them dearly to protect them from further damage. Other pieces will prompt a flood of emotions or memories. Sometimes we bathe in each one of those moments, reliving them and feeling either closure, pleasure, or pain. Sometimes we locate a piece only to cast it away again because we now know we’re better off without it. And, some pieces remain forever lost and we have to find a way to go on with those elements of ourselves missing.
The shattered bits of what was slowly reassemble into a new creation that represents who we are now, what we have experienced, and where we hope to go. It’s a fluid sculpture that subtly shifts in shape and brightness depending on our growth, mood, and progress in recovery. It’s okay that it doesn’t look the same way it did yesterday or if we decide to revise it, or even completely start it over!
The success of your new creation, your life, is largely (not entirely) dependent on your outlook. The question is: are you at peace, or are you in pieces?
In the beginning of your divorce journey, you will be in pieces. This is a foregone conclusion.
As said before, some are more or less prepared for the journey because of what led to the divorce and how it proceeded.
In my particular case, by the time my divorce was decided on and then finalized, I was pretty far along in my healing and acceptance of it. I was aware for at least three years of my marriage that we had a big problem and needed help to salvage it. I had already done all of my crying and grieving before my ex even woke up and realized that we were in shambles. I still had to learn to accept letting my children go 50% of the time, and suffered through their adjustment to the situation; but, I was already well aware that this would be our fate and I was prepared to engage my parachute.
My ex, on the other hand, was oblivious to the growing distance between us and didn’t become conscious of how much damage had been done by his neglect to our family until I was practically packing my bags. Obviously, he required more time once the divorce was initiated to rectify himself with reality because he was so isolated from our relationship, despite my many attempts to help him see the signs of danger.
We have both gathered our pieces, healed, and rejoined life in our new forms as two separate people.
Largely, I think I have been successful at not still existing in pieces. I still sometimes have to re-assess how much a part of myself still belongs with who I am today or the direction I am moving in. Sometimes I find myself scrambling to find a piece of myself that feels as though it has come loose or become lost.
I still mourn what was. I no longer mourn that he and I are not an “us”.
I might mourn for some of the dreams I once had and for what I had to endure to land where I am today. I mourn for my children losing the togetherness of their parents.
Mostly, I am at peace, rather than pieces because I have allowed myself grace for mistakes I have made. I allowed myself to cast off shame for being divorced. I finally learned that forgiveness is not just something you do for someone who has done you wrong. I forgave him, but then I experienced what forgiveness could do for me by setting me free of so much anger, sadness, and mostly his ability to control me and my emotions!
I accepted peace in knowing that my actions served my children the best possible way in an otherwise terrible situation. I recognize that my choices were an act of survival for me and a recovery mission for them to ensure that they could grow up in the best possible environment. I have to give myself credit for being brave enough to do what I had to do and to no longer feel the need to apologize or justify to anyone the choices I made.
I could still be in pieces. Easily. It would be so simple for me to fixate on and second guess myself, to accept persecution and judgement, and to wear guilt and shadows of the past like a veil over my eyes! This, however, would defeat the whole purpose of going through a divorce. I sought divorce because I still had hope that my life could be better, and I (amazingly) still possessed enough love and respect for myself to believe that I deserved better, and the gumption to pull myself up and go get it!
Take the time you need to sift through the pieces of your life after divorce. Take pride in reinventing yourself from bits of your past experiences and what you have learned. Don’t fixate on trying to duplicate what you had before. Life has changed, and you are no longer exactly the same, either. It will all come together as it is meant to!