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.