Divorce Won't Kill You, but It May Still Feel Like Death

Updated on November 10, 2018
Deb Vesco Roberts profile image

Life and relationships can be erratic and writing about perplexing issues is cathartic. I hope readers can find beneficial information here.

You Will Mourn Even If You Don’t Want To

Divorce is a huge loss, even if you wanted it. You lose your status, identity, image, comfort zone, routines, relationships with in-laws, shared friends, financial stability, and often, your home and its comforts. The future you envisioned and strived for has ended. It is normal and even healthy to go through the stages of divorce as you would with any other loss. It is indeed, a death—a death of everything that you have lived and have known for a very long time.

When You Have Children, Your Ex May Still Be A Part Of Your Life

You will need to learn to co-parent in a healthy way. You have a responsibility to raise your children keeping their best interests at heart. Children of divorce can still be happy and grounded if things can stay amicable between parents and they are kept out of the line of fire. The same holds true for adult children. There will be graduations, weddings, the birth of grandchildren; many events that both of you will need and want to be involved in. No one should have to feel uncomfortable attending such events. You created these children together and you should both be able to continue to enjoy and partake in all their accomplishments.

Remember, your children looked up to and respected you and were accustomed to your constant presence in their lives and being at their beck and call. It will take time for them to come around; in some cases, a very long time, and in very unfortunate cases, maybe never. Until then, understand that your relationship will be one-sided. They may not acknowledge things that you are excited about, they may not call just because they are thinking about you; they may not even respond when you contact them.

Don’t push. Be patient, loving and willing to live in a one-sided world for a while. You will feel as if this is your punishment; and maybe it is, but there is nothing more comforting than the unconditional love and acceptance of a parent and they will appreciate that you didn’t give up on them.

Your Social Life Will Change

Mutual friends that you shared; even acquaintances, will shift. You will learn who your true friends are and it will surprise you. Some will pick sides while others will choose to stay friends with both of you. You will receive less Christmas cards or invitations to social events. It hurts like hell; I’m not going to lie. This shift in friendships can quickly change your priorities from being the perfect hostess and going to endless social gatherings, to having a low-key social life with those whom you have genuine connections and who stuck by you with a listening ear and an open heart and mind. You will quickly find comfort in this and your friendships will mean so much more. Trust me on this one.

Anger Will Raise Its Ugly Head in Both of You

No matter what the circumstances, there will be some anger, resentments and blame. In the aftermath of divorce, despite how far you’ve each moved on, there will be thoughts and even words about loyalty, wasted time, how good the other person thought they were/are, and my favorite, “you’ve changed, you’re not the person I married”. Of course, you’re not. And you shouldn’t be. Changing means that you’ve grown and there’s nothing wrong with that. Again, divorce is a loss. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy or relieved about that loss. Loss is loss. And part of loss and mourning, is feeling anger. For your own well-being, you must deal with all the stages, and move from anger into acceptance. It may or may not happen overnight but at some point, you will be able to let it go and move on.

People Will Talk and They May Take Sides

Nobody knows what goes on in a marriage except the couple themselves and that is that, no one else need get involved and no one else’s opinions matter. A friend once said “there are three sides to every story…his [hers], mine and ours”. How true that is and people need to respect that. Gossip can take a toll on you and it takes a strong self-awareness and confidence to ignore the accusations and judgements and to accept the reality that only you know. You were two people who did the best you could; that’s what you can say and leave it at that. Where other people are concerned, let the chatter be background noise; because that’s all it is.

I took this issue a step further and wrote another blog entitled "Divorce: Who Gets Custody of the Friends?"

Left out from family functions
Left out from family functions | Source
Shamed family member
Shamed family member

Your Memories Will Be With You Forever

Whether you were married for three years or 30, you spent a significant amount of time together and made a lot of memories with your ex, your children, your families, and your friends. Choose to look at those memories as priceless experiences. I see my years with my ex as a time of learning, family celebrations, milestones, and changes. They are a part of who I am. I am not the same woman I once was; but in a good way. I am the same mother, nurse, and friend, but where I am different is within myself; the way that I think about life, people and situations. I have changed in ways that have contributed to my growth, not my demise. I still have a long way to go, but I am improving who I am every day. Everything that I experienced in my marriage, both good and bad, are what made me who I am today; both in what I have changed and what has remained the same. It is a part of my life that I live without regrets because of the four beautiful children that came from it. Having and raising my kids was my biggest accomplishment during that time and I would not change that for anything.

Family May Not Understand or Be Supportive

They may judge, blame, point fingers, talk badly about you to your children, other family members, or their circle of friends. It will be humiliating at best, but try to understand that they too are mourning the loss of their family unit as they have known it. Hopefully with time, listening and understanding, they will come to understand and respect your decisions.

They may even be unaccepting or intolerant of your new relationship. This will be the toughest part. Be patient and ready to forgive them. Eventually they will miss your company and any family bond you once had. Unfortunately, this can take years; in my case, it is taking many years. I remain hopeful and focus on my life and living it to the fullest.

People can be powerful, so do not let them cause you to feel regret or remorse. You are only responsible for your own feelings and reactions; not theirs. I cannot tell you how many people have said this to me over the years…friends with similar experiences, therapists, and even strangers.

Holidays and monumental family events are the hardest. You must make new traditions; whether that be with your new spouse, friends or neighbors. I remain hopeful that one day hearts will soften and acceptance will happen.

Source

“There is a big difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. It means removing toxic people and belief systems from your life so that you can make room for relationships and ideas that are conducive to your well-being and happiness. Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is imprisoning. Letting go is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care.

So the next time you make the decision to release something or someone that is stifling your happiness and growth, and a person has the audacity to accuse you of giving up or being weak, remind yourself of the difference. Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to live your life in the way that feels right. No one has the authority to tell you who to be or how to live. No one gets to decide what your life should look like or who should be a part of it. No one, but you.”

— Daniell Koepke

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Debra Roberts

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      • ThatGuysWithHat profile image

        ThatGuysWithHat 

        8 days ago

        Great article. Unfortunately, this happens to each of us ... the main thing is not to become self-contained. When I broke up with one girl, I was completely broken. But I started drawing and it helped me to understand myself ... to move on. Drawing or other creativity helps a lot with this, I usually draw with pencils like this https://wowpencils.com/best-mechanical-pencils/. If you also want to draw, then I advise you to start with black and white drawings.

      • Deb Vesco Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

        Debra Roberts 

        4 weeks ago from United States

        Sadly, I didn't see mine coming really. I think I was just on autopilot, thinking I needed to live with the decision and stay put due to longevity and my 4 kids. Sadly, I'm still the source of contention in my family because I made the break and remarried, but I'm happy now, and isn't that what life is about? Being happy? Or is it living a lie so that others don't have to be uncomfortable? Food for thought for sure!

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        5 weeks ago from UK

        There's a lot of food for thought in this article. Its useful for anyone contemplating or going through divorce, but also for others to aid their understanding of the trauma the dissolution of a marriage can cause.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        You really laid it out well for would-be divorcees to consider. For those who do it anyway, you encourage them with the truth that "Divorce Won't Kill You." Good article. Dashingscorpio also gives good counsel (except that I would hate for the phrase "practice marriage" to become a self-fulling prophecy).

      • dashingscorpio profile image

        dashingscorpio 

        6 weeks ago

        And yet some people will tell you; "Divorce is the EASY way out." Clearly those who believe that have never actually gone through a divorce. Getting married is a lot more fun and way easier to do!

        Nevertheless divorce does not have to be the end of the world. Oftentimes people go on to find new love with a (better partner) and remarry. I call my first marriage my "practice marriage".

        "Some people come into your life as blessings and some people come into your life as lessons." - Mother Teresa

        Every ending is a new beginning!

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