The year 2012 has to be the worse and most eventful year of my life. To sum it up, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (the second most common blood cancer after leukemia), left my abusive alcoholic husband, went on medical leave with my employer, moved two states away with my two young daughters, and entered treatment for said cancer—simultaneously!
But that’s not all… in addition to leaving my husband, I experienced the “joy” of also wading through all the stuff one has to do to get a divorce, like finding an attorney, filing legal papers, and searching for all kinds of paperwork in order to comply with “discovery” requests.
To make matters even worse, I had to endure endless horrifically mean text messages from my estranged husband that ranged from accusations (“you’re just a lazy liar who just doesn’t want to work), to threats (“if you leave me, I’ll cancel your health insurance”), to taunts (“I’m dating a new woman and she has a lot more money than you do!”).
Navigating through the many things required as part of my divorce while undergoing treatment was a nightmare. But falling apart simply wasn’t an option. I still had to raise my two daughters and be strong for them. It literally took every ounce of energy I had. Much of the time, I was exhausted and didn’t feel well, yet I had deadlines to meet. I had to search for documents for discovery, draft and edit court pleadings and responses, and make countless phone calls to my attorney.
I look back and wonder how I did it all.
My dad has a motto: By the yard, it’s hard; but by the inch, it’s a cinch. Divorce can be incredibly overwhelming—at least mine was. If I had to make a detailed list of everything I needed to do to move out of my home and get a divorce, I would still be living with my abusive alcoholic husband. But by taking just one step at a time and by staying focused on what I had to do at that moment without getting lost in everything to come, it helped tremendously.
For instance, the discovery request by my husband was huge. I read through it one time and then simply concentrated on just a few items per day. I would print up a few statements, perhaps make one phone call, shove it all in a folder and take a nap. The next day, I’d pull out the list and do a few more. It took several weeks but one day, I drove to Fed Ex and shipped a huge thick envelope off to my attorney and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Chemo girl did it! Hooray for me!
Still, anxiety attacks become a problem for me. To combat them, I took up Bikram yoga and meditation. I also started getting frequent massages. I purchased a good pair of hiking shoes and began exploring beautiful trails and canyons nearby. Communing with nature became one of my favorite activities. I find it so calming.
It’s been almost two years since I left my husband and I feel like a new person. I successfully made it through two stem cell transplants, massive amounts of chemo, and more medications that anyone should take in a lifetime. I moved two states away. I (almost) completed my divorce. I helped my two daughters get settled into a new school and make new friends. I am dating again. I’m in remission and focusing on my physical and emotional health.
Getting a divorce is hard. It is time consuming and emotionally draining. But it eventually ends and the good news? Life after a bad marriage can be beautiful and full of hope and joy and peace. Just stay focused. One step at a time.