Dear Readers, it’s time to tell you that Bob and I are separated and moving towards divorce. He moved out last May. It’s been hard and heartbreaking. It’s also been such an odd summer of learning to live alone amidst the pandemic and the racial reckoning in Minneapolis. We were together for 32 years, and for both of us, more than half of our lives has been lived with each other, intertwined, creating a family, close and sharing everything. It’s a big, sad change.
Many of you were around in 2014, when Bob surprised me by telling me he wanted a divorce, out of the blue, a week before my 50th birthday. I was hit hard by this news, falling into a deep pit of despair, grief, anxiety and fear. After we made the announcement on Facebook (a post that didn’t really reflect my perspective), I started writing here in my blog about my real feelings, realizations, and how I was coping. It was such a hard time, but sharing with others helped. I wrote posts about it, calling them my “Divorce Lessons” (they are still available to read here). There’s still some good stuff in them.
Six years ago, because of what I was going through, I started sharing and connecting with people in new, much more open, ways. Previously, I had been more closed, more guarded, more into people-pleasing and afraid to be my authentic self. I’d learned these self-protective skills well in my dysfunctional family, but they sure didn’t serve me as an adult. It was scary to reach out, to ask for and receive support from others, to be vulnerable about who I am. But so worth it. I stretched beyond what I was comfortable with, and I have added so many great people to my life!
Personal growth is a great silver lining, but divorce is, frankly, awful. Many of you know this. It’s so unsettling and it rocks the foundation of your life. It’s an earthquake that shakes everything. Losing a person who you counted on, trusted, loved, shared everything with, molded your life around, talked to all the time — it guts your life: your everyday life, your future life, and it turns your past life into haunting, triggering memories. It pushes you forward into uncertainty. What is your life now, not married to this person?
Things had been so hard in our relationship for quite awhile. I tried everything I could to make it work, trying to believe in the good things between us, trying to my own detriment, trying long beyond I should have. It was so hard to admit that what was happening in our relationship was truly affecting my physical and mental well-being, that the hurtful parts were far outweighing the good.
Going through this breakup these last few months has taken me on a wild ride of the Stages of Grief and Loss— denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These aren’t sequential. You dip into denial, bounce around in bargaining, try out a little bit of acceptance. You think “ah great, I’ve accepted!” and then feel the fiery burst of angry thoughts for days and days. It calms into downward pulls of depression. Denial again. Bargaining again. Acceptance and depression and anger again.
Divorce doesn’t just affect the couple that is breaking up. It affects the family too, changing so much of the way we were used to things being. It can affect friends and friendships too, especially in couple-centered social activities. For all that, I’m so sorry. The break-up is hard enough without the ripple effects going out to family and friends.
I know that this is just one of those really hard life events, and that people get through it and come out the other side. It takes time. It can take a long time, with lots of bumps to ride out those Stages of Grief and Loss. I don’t know what will happen. Heck, we’re living in such uncertain and turbulent times right now, nobody knows what will happen on multiple levels. We are all experiencing so much right now, and being affected in so many areas of our lives.
All I can do is keep going forward.
How do I do that? These little steps seem to help:
- Feel my feelings.
- Try to stay in the present moment.
- Practice gratitude for the good things in my life.
- Reach out to people who care.
- Be gentle and kind to myself.
How are you getting through your own uncertainty? How are you managing your own stressful situations? I’d love to hear from you if you want to share.
Thanks so much for reading, for caring, for understanding. We can do this.
Original grief and loss artwork by me. Selfie photo by me. Heart image courtesy of Kelly Sikkema at Unsplash. com.
(((All the hugs))) You are loved. ??
Thanks so much, dear Emily! Love to you too.
Theresa, my heart aches for your heart, which has already endured so much. Thank you for another brave and beautiful post from your brave and beautiful self.
Wow, your kind and poetic words mean so much to me, Claudia. Thanks so much!
Theresa I’m so sorry…. it’s very very hard. I’ve been there.
However I can say that it also opened up so many new opportunities for growth and finding my own worth.
Of course that’s all in hindsight…
Keep reaching out and finding new ways, new rituals and be gentle with yourself.
Thank you so much, Nora! It is always good to hear from others who have gone through this rocky journey and have had positive outcomes. I really appreciate your words and advice.
You are a brave warrior! Your reasons for writing a blog mirror mine so I understand that process intimately.
Sending you love from Louisiana.
Thanks so much, Carolyn! Blogging does help. It’s so good to hear from you!
Theresa, I am so sorry. There are so many stops on the way to divorce. 32 years is a pretty damn good run. Hoping you and Bob find where you are both most needed separately now. *BIG HUGS*
Thanks, dear Christine. It’s good to have a positive spin on it, since sometimes it all seems rather dark. Still need a coffee, beer or wine with you! Hugs back atcha.
At some point in the terrible years (2007-2013), I rewrote the serenity prayer to suit myself, as I’ve never been religious. I can’t say it will help: help is random for you right now, but in case it does, here it is.
Grant me the ability to: accept the things
I cannot change; courage to change the things
I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Live one day at a time; enjoy one moment at a time.
Accept the world as it is, not as I want it to be.
Give me the strength to stand on my own,
step outside my comfort zone and learn.
Know every day gotten through with grace,
good humor and positive accomplishments
is something to be proud of; and the days
those are not able to be present are not failures,
merely days that won’t have to be lived again.
Remember time is my friend:
the great softener, revealer, bringer of wisdom.
And – let me recognize and embrace happiness,
not allow it to pass me by.
Believe that I’m still here for a reason and when
quantity time outweighs quality time,
give me the strength to say enough is enough,
and find a way to check out.
Wow, that’s so wise and helpful, Katie… thanks for sharing it! Hugs…
My heart goes out to you.
Thanks so much, Denise!
Hugs dear Theresa. I’m am shocked a little too, but I love that you have the gift of pen, and such a beautiful way of expressing this grief and pain and allowing friends and family in a little so that we can lend you some support. I saw you out walking the other day around the neighborhood – you were on my mind. ?? I’m a good sounding board, and become a master of Zooming if you like that kind of thing. ??? I have strange hours you can call anytime.
Thanks, KT… I would love to talk to you sometime! Thanks for you kind words.
When you said that you had posted on this personal and painful subject, I expected grief, but I also found hope, resilience and the heart of a woman who is heading to new heights. I am sorry for the hard stuff.
I really really appreciate that, Angela. I think it helped that I waited a bit to share this with the world, so I was able to see some hope in the dark clouds. Merci!
It’s tough. It feels like the world is ending and it’s all your fault. Give me a call sometime. If you want to get together, I have a patio and yard that’s good for socially distant socialising while the weather holds.
Thanks so much for that, Gio. I will do that!
lots of love!
Aw, thanks for that, Sydney!
Dear Theresa, You always have my love and support.
I’m so grateful for that… thanks so much, my friend!
I am sending you so much love and healing energy. I cannot begin to understand what you are going through, but I am in awe of your courage and strength as you begin this new path in your life. Please feel free to reach out if you ever feel the need to talk to someone. Know I am here, and I have really broad shoulders and a very warped sense of humor. Biggest of Karebear hugs.
Thanks, Kari… for the kind words and the offer. I will reach out when things have calmed down a little. It would be great to talk to you!
You really can do this. You have become so much stronger and so much more resilient over the years through this awful experience, but you continue to bowl me over with your ability to rise up with such grace and insight. And take it from one who has always lived alone: It’s not so bad. You can stay up as late as you want, you can eat crackers in bed and you can leave dishes in the sink if you feel like it.
Sending you so much love — I’m there for you, my dear friend.
Thanks so much, dear Sherri… I have been appreciating many of those little things about being alone. (Not crackers in bed though… too itchy!) I’m so glad we talked recently; I really appreciate our friendship.
I have been through divorce and the death of a spouse. Divorce is way harder in a lot of ways. It is a different kind of death. It’s easier to deal with when the person fully goes away.
Lots of love to you. Please speak up if the weight of it gets overwhelming.
Thanks so much for that, Don… I know you’ve had such heartbreak in your life. It seems like divorce is the hurt that keeps on giving, so easy to get re-triggered. Thanks so much for your kind words, and I will be sure to speak up!
First of all, your artwork is beautiful! And, I’m so sorry for this life-changing event. You are so smart and courageous and I’m so proud to be your friend. If some Barb time seems like it would be good, of course, call me. It’s so true that the “stages” of grief are not stages at all, but places to bounce around in… but it’s good to have some definition of our feelings and strategies so we can go, “Oh, this is bargaining, Oh, this is lashing out, Oh, maybe now I can accept this…
Hang in there T! We love you.
Thanks so much, Barbara! I really appreciate your words. I would love to reach out for some Barb-time! Love you too!