Four and a half years ago I had no idea how to be divorced. I had been married for seventeen years, since the age of 22, and my husband had blindsided me with the news that he was leaving.
He was my first real love and this was my first real breakup. All I could think of in those early days was that I didn’t want to be divorced, or single.
I wanted ANSWERS.
I became almost obsessed with the idea of closure. I was a wreck. In my tightly controlled world, things like this just didn’t happen. Major events were planned – detailed thought went into any significant happenings, and I usually had the final say in whether or not the happening would go ahead. But not this time.
On top of being completely and utterly heartbroken, I thought that the uncertainty and injustice of it all would damn near kill me. I wondered what thought my husband had put into this rash decision of his and found myself searching desperately for closure and answers. I told myself that I couldn’t rest until I found both.
And on the torment went.
One day, a well-meaning girlfriend suggested that I use the time to focus on myself – to stop worrying about what he was doing and why he was doing it, and to focus instead on ME. I thought she was nuts. How could I rest when THIS had just happened for god’s sake?
Still, not having much else better to do, I tentatively gave it a go.
Slowly – VERY slowly at first, I started giving MYSELF the time and love and attention that I so desperately craved. I slowly taught myself how to spend time alone. How to be single, and how not to hate it. How to look inside for answers to my grief, and how to self-soothe. I read a lot of books, took a lot of candlelit baths, drank a lot of tea, and cried a lot of tears.
I began to grieve – PROPERLY grieve – the life that I had lost. And little by little, I began to heal.
Today, four years on, I understand just how wise this woman’s words were. I realized that sometimes, we don’t know why things happen as they do. We ESPECIALLY don’t know when we are in the thick of it all, grieving and dealing with emotions that we’ve perhaps never had to deal with before.
The truth is this: Answers and closure come to us when we stop looking for them. They come when we stop obsessing and begging, and instead start to accept life as it is. Of course, this is not easy. It was in fact one of the hardest things I – a former control freak – have EVER had to do. But, I did it.
And I now have the answers and closure I once so desperately craved.
So, what were the answers? Looking back at my marriage now, I can see that there were certain cracks. I can see that more than anything, we had grown apart. We were evolving and moving at different rates and in different directions. I couldn’t accept (or even see) this when I was in the midst of grieving. I could see and accept it once I’d healed.
The beautiful irony in all of this is that once the answers came to me, I was no longer desperate for them. I got my closure and I did it by myself, for myself – and this was a truly empowering thing. And yet another reminder that in life we really have very little control over other people’s actions. Our true power always lies in our re-actions.
Here are some things you can do instead of looking for closure after divorce:
Focus on HEALING
Understand that you ARE going to feel crappy for a while after a breakup or divorce – there is no avoiding this. And hard as it is to understand – much less accept – this at the time, closure and answers will not be forthcoming when you are in this grieving state.
Acceptance and closure come with healing. So, do what you need to do to heal. Give yourself COPIOUS amounts of self-love and care. Spend time alone. Spend time with friends. Eat well, sleep well, don’t abuse your body. Healing is one of the most natural processes known to man – it WILL happen if you allow it to.
STOP obsessing, questioning and begging
Do your best not to do what I did – desperate texts and phone calls to the ex, begging for information and answers. Even if they are able to give you answers (mine struggled) they will likely not make you feel any better. They may actually make you feel worse.
Therefore leave it, and focus on healing.
Trust that in time the answers WILL come
Accept that grieving and healing are processes. TRUST in the process. Trust that you will one day feel a whole lot better than you do now, and trust that you will one day understand why it happened. Be open to receiving guidance and answers as they come to you.
Finally, understand that closure that comes from within is infinitely more valuable than ANYTHING external. As I eventually realized, you do NOT need to wait for answers or permission from ANYBODY. You can make the choice to let it go and move forward. What a liberating choice to make!