My unwanted divorce was a gift. I didn’t feel that way in the beginning, but I absolutely feel that way now.
On the day my husband announced he was leaving me my world came to a standstill. Actually, first, it came crashing down, then it came to a standstill. Life as I knew it was over – I was about to be presented with an unwanted divorce.
I stood in the living room, near to where he was sitting and did my best to take his words in. But they made no sense. And he was so calm. As if what he was telling me – what he was about to do – was not about to turn all of our lives – his, mine and the kids – completely upside down.
I had no warning. Sure, I had found out about the other woman a few days prior, but I had already decided that I would put up with that situation because I’d also decided that he was having a midlife crisis and would eventually snap out of it. I was desperate. I wasn’t thinking straight.
So I stood in my living room on that sunny morning and did my best to talk him out of it. I pleaded. I begged. And when I realized my rational arguments weren’t budging him I resorted to dramatics. I told him I wanted to kill myself – that I couldn’t survive without him. (I actually cringe when I think back to this now).
The same thoughts were replaying in my head, over and over and over:
This is NOT how it’s supposed to be. This is not my life. This is a MISTAKE.
This is a bad dream. I have to FIX it.
Maybe he’ll change his mind. Maybe he’ll go for a bit and then come back. Maybe that’s what will happen.
Yes. He’ll change his mind and come back.
Well, he didn’t change his mind. He didn’t come back.
And even though a very small part of me knew that it was final, that it was over, that I would have to accept it and eventually move on – my mind was still very much stuck in RESISTANCE mode. I just didn’t want to let him – or our life together – go. I didn’t know how to.
A few weeks later I found myself talking to a lady I hadn’t spoken to in some time. Even though I barely knew this woman, I unashamedly relayed my whole sorry tale to her. I told her of my distress. I told her that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that my husband had left. That I felt it was all a big mistake and that it wasn’t meant to happen to me. That I needed to work out how to fix it.
Her advice stunned me: She asked me what I thought would happen if, rather than trying to control and change what had happened, I simply allowed the situation to ‘play out’. If, rather than exerting energy and focus on wondering if and when my husband would come back, I focused on nothing more for the moment than letting go. Finding acceptance. Taking a step back and observing where the journey took me.
My first reaction to her words was – predictably – something along the lines of WHAT the??!! NO!!!
Yet, they undoubtedly stirred something inside of me. Amidst the pain and tears in the days and weeks following, I found that I kept going back to those words.
Eventually, I decided to try them out. Little by little I forced myself to ‘let go’. I forced myself to accept that maybe, at times, life knew better than little old me. And after a while, a funny thing happened. I began to find that the less I resisted things, the more things naturally went my way.
I stopped obsessing about my husband and what he was doing with his girlfriend. New and interesting people came into my life. I started to relish my new-found freedom. My relationship with my kids improved and evolved – I found that I actually enjoyed being a single mother. The less I tried to control and fix and change everything, the more things started to fall into place. As they were meant to – without my interference.
Little by little I began to realize how much effort I had put into resisting things in my life. And actually, how much easier it is to resist because we subconsciously (or maybe even consciously) think that we can change what is happening by doing so. Letting go and accepting would be akin to agreeing to the pain and the grief and the horrible shitty feelings.
But pain and grief and shitty feelings don’t last forever. When we accept this fact, we automatically allow space for healing. And during and after the healing we allow bigger and better things to come into our lives. When life presents us with a hiccup or catastrophe (for example an unexpected breakup or divorce) we have a choice. We can choose to stay stuck in the mindset of NO NO NO or we can force ourselves to take a small step back, breathe, and let things develop as they will… for better or for worse.
My breakup and subsequent divorce were gifts. I didn’t feel that way in the beginning, but I absolutely feel that way now. And today, when people ask me for advice – when they ask how they can possibly gain acceptance of an unwanted divorce, my advice is the same:
STOP. Breathe. Allow the situation to play out. See what happens. See where life takes you. Because you may just end up with a BETTER life than the one which was taken from you. I did.