musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Divorce Lesson #3

(In case you missed them, you can read Divorce Lesson #1 and Divorce Lesson #2 by clicking on the titles here.)

Spirals. I’ve decided it’s spirals. I’d been comparing the last 6 weeks since Bob asked for a divorce to a roller coaster ride of emotions—devastating lows, the rush of adrenaline and fear, unexpected highs. But a roller coaster implies a short turbulent ride that will end abruptly, and I know that won’t happen. Instead, I’m now thinking about the curvy flow of spirals, emotions circling again and again, but never quite to the same place as the last time. My emotional labyrinth. There is still raw heartbreak, grief, relief, peace, joy, but it shifts each time around.

What surprises me is that while I’m having some of the saddest, darkest lows of my life, I’m being touched by some of the happiest moments too. As I wrote about in my last post, people have been reaching out to me in droves with such kindness and love. And because I’m so broken open right now, I have no choice but to soak it in, to be astonished by the miracles occurring every day, to allow my heart to be soothed.


In the last two weeks since I wrote, there have indeed been some very dark times for me. As Bob and I process things and discuss what’s going on, I’ve plunged many times into a weepy, snotty abyss. I should’ve bought shares in a tissue company long ago. This last week, one of our conversations ended up being particularly devastating to me… even though we were saying a lot of the same things to each other that we’ve said before (that spiral again). For me, the difference was that this time, I finally heard his words and let them sink in:

We were going to get a divorce, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

At that moment, I finally gave up all hope.

Which leads me to the somewhat paradoxical lesson I learned…


Divorce Lesson #3: The Freedom in Hopelessness



In that moment of realization, in accepting the finality of his words, I felt like I was staring Death in the face. There was nothing I could do, this was going to happen. I sunk to the absolute bottom, howling in my pain. You see, I know I’d been clinging to some fragments of hope—and I know that’s understandable, given the situation. I’m sure it’s the Bargaining Stage of Griefmaybe if I change enough, say the right things, look pretty enough, clean the house more, show that I’m losing weight, maybe he’ll change his mind. It was even little things, like if I wear these earrings or this shirt, put on some lipstick or perfume, maybe he wouldn’t want to leave. It was magical thinking. I don’t blame myself for it, I needed to do it to get through, but it kept me living in a bubble of hope. It kept me trying to please him all the time… which was one of the problems in our relationship.

photo by Bob Alberti

photo by Bob Alberti

Even as I reeled from this painful acceptance, moments later, I discovered my first glimpse of freedom. Suffice it to say, Bob did something I didn’t like, a behavior he’s done many times in the decades we’ve been together, something that irked me time and again and which I held my tongue about, not wanting to hear his reaction. I didn’t even have time to think the words that would later become my mantra—I just reacted immediately. “That has been bugging me for years and years. I can’t stand it. It’s rude. Cut it out.”   He stopped, listened, and acknowledged it. I’d said it, finally, after so long.

This divorce is going to happen no matter what, and there’s nothing I can do or say to change it.

The freedom in my new mantra is that, at the bottom of hopelessness, I get to give up Trying. I get to examine every people-pleasing action or thought in my head—especially the Bob-pleasing ones—and decide if it actually pleases me. Me! Is this what I want? Why am I doing this? Knowing it’s not going to ever change anything, is this what I really want to do? To wear? To be like?

Of course, there’s a lot of pain that goes along with this realization too. I am now looking at my life and my future in a totally different way, and waves of grief will come at me as I think about how will I do this (fill in the blank) when I’m divorced, what will this (blank) be like? It’s a new reality, scary and unknown. And this is where I have to keep coming back to the Present Moment (Divorce Lesson #1).

photo by Bob Alberti

photo by Bob Alberti

But days have passed and I’ve spiraled around again to a sense of peace at the moment, to remembering the love around me (Divorce Lesson #2). This idea of hopelessness and the freedom of it is still rather new to me. But I know that these new questions I’m asking myself are good ones, questions worth taking the time to think about. Why am I doing this? Is this what I want? What’s good for me? I think starting to look for these answers will lead me on a better path in this journey. I can already feel the hope in that.


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{Photos not credited are in the public doman.}


  1. Emily W

    ((((Hugs)))), Theresa.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Thank you SO much, sweet Emily! I love those hugs.

  2. Suzanne

    Just add me to the list of those who are feeling your grief and sending encouraging thoughts, vibes and prayers. Oh…and love.

  3. Nell

    Oh, some of this is so familiar sounding! There are many of us who have been through this also. It is hard, it hurts, but I would never change the experience, and the new me that came out the other end! Stay the course, keep honest, no matter what, and know that there are many of us here to support you as you find the YOU you are looking for. It is worth it!

  4. Simone Cooper

    You said this really beautifully, and this especially resonated for me: “Knowing it’s not going to ever change anything, is this what I really want to do? To wear? To be like?”

    It can’t be easy to write these posts, so thank you so much for sharing them.

  5. Diana Fernandez

    Teresa: you are so elocuent and raw in your writing. I wished you could compile all these lessons into a book.

  6. Kristi Jalics

    Be well, dear Theresa…..I know nothing about your situation, but I cannot help but believe that Bob has made a big big mistake……And you will grow! You will be free and grow! You will walk in Beauty.

  7. mikki

    I think a divorce is the same thing as a death. The difference is with divorce, you get to start over, move on to something, maybe even someone, better and more healthy for you. And as with death, you just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other and one day you will be out of it; it will be over and you will be at peace and happy. Keep mustering those wits, Theresa! Vibes and prayers continue………………………………………….

  8. Andrea Pearson

    I’m still with you. Hang in there. Your writing is true and good.

  9. Brenda Peterson

    I wish you strength as you go through all of this.

    It is odd how almost comforting the hopelessness you described is. With my divorce, there was a two week period between the realization that things were not going well (that bell that could not be unrung) and the words “we need to get divorced” being spoken out loud. That may have been the hardest couple of weeks of my life because it was filled with so much fear, uncertainty and the overwhelming presence of the same type of magical thinking that you described. For me, I just kept thinking, “I can fix this” until one day I realized that there was no fixing to be done. While it’s scary to come to that point, it’s at least the end of one fruitless struggle and the beginning of another, more positive journey towards something new and better.

    Again, I wish you strength as you go through all of this. You have much support.

  10. Barb

    I noticed I was thinking, Get mad at him! and in the next sentence… you told us you did. And that’s the start of perceiving yourself separate from your former life partner. And that’s the start of getting to know your “present” life partner, you, more fully. We don’t know where this journey will take you, but I am a willing and eager witness and would be companion. Thank you for your eloquent lessons in compassion for ourselves .
    Lots of love…

  11. Sherri

    I really believe you are going to emerge from this stronger, happier, and more authentic, with an understanding of yourself that will be comforting to you and inspiring to others. From your painful, honest, eloquent posts I sense you are grabbing on with both hands to the hard stuff of life, and you’re saying, “Bring it.” You have so, SO much support, as is evident here in the replies as well as on FB. That is ALL YOU. All the wonderfulness of you. When times are hard, and I have no doubt that they must come flitting by fairly frequently, just turn to your universe of friends, because we will always give you a shoulder to cry on, an arm to lean on, an easy chair in a messy living room to collapse into.
    Big, BIG hugs!

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