Three months ago, I got divorced. Perhaps very few people would have known this save for the fact that Man of my Dreams (now simply the Father of my Children) had posted on FB about how not all endings are sad and his new lady love posted back because some endings have happy beginnings. Needless to say this was in poor taste because it is indeed sad no matter how happy the beginning that a family unravels, that two children lose their parents living under one roof and that a 13 year old marriage comes to an end. However, if there is anything I have learnt over the past few years of my life, it is that there is very little one can in fact, control.
For the past year and a half I’ve kept my silence because this is the respect I owed the husband I loved for 13 years and the man who gave me my most precious gifts – my children. Friends and family often questioned this in the face of the way he and his love interest handled our post separation period, using all social media and charged physical appearances to declare their feelings, brandishing themselves for all to see. But there is dignity in silence (and God and my loved ones know I was NOT silent in private) and my upbringing speaks of a certain pedigree. One also needs to conserve energy to lick your wounds, muster up strength to deal with the million to-dos that carry on regardless and of course to make sense of the future now that plans have clearly changed :-O !!!
Death. Disease and now Divorce. I’ve been through them all in the last few years and riding on the pain of the first two while moving into the sheer trauma of the third is not easy, especially when it is not just about you, but also about managing the overall wellness of your children. Unfortunately today there are a lot of single mothers out there… for all of you out there I try and capture the myriad of emotions I went through so that you know you’re not alone, that you can survive it and to give you a bit of strength if you are going through it now.
- Invest in your children – there is nothing more important than their physical and emotional well-being. For a year and a half I’ve rarely left the house after eight. I give them reiki every night to heal their worries. We share our day, go over our affirmations and say our prayers together every night. Whatever the night is like, I wake up to get them ready for school, ensure their bellies are full, write them little notes in their lunchboxes. Surprise pick ups from school; surprise appearances to their extra curricular activities. If you’re a working mom, create action packed weekends but also learn to relax together. Love them. Show them you do. REPEATEDLY. Tell them repeatedly that the split had nothing to do with them. Be as honest with them as possible so they don’t get the uneasy feeling of knowing something is wrong and creating ghosts in their mind of what it can be
- The children’s father – No matter what happens to your relationship, he will always have this place in your life and so it is best to try and be as cordial as possible. Despite your own feelings, the children need two parents so try and give them that. Listen to your gut; especially if you are the parent living with them as you can see the intricacies of their adjustment and development in greater detail than he can. Don’t bad mouth him as they are half him and whatever you say about him is also what they will perceive about themselves
- Get support – the saying goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and there couldn’t be a truer one. This is the time to recruit grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, the kids friend’s parents. Create your village around you and don’t feel guilty about it. My workplace gave me a short sabbatical to get my act together – talk to work and if they’re not a diversity friendly employer – write to me and lets talk – I run a women’s business J. Share; you must share. Friends and family have been concerned about me hiding away and internalizing. Perhaps I was. But I was also DOING and UNDOING a lot. Starting a lot from scratch. And that takes time and focus. And when I’m in that zone, I don’t shut the world out, I simply lose myself in my own world. So do what you got to do
- Ego – easy to say, but it bites. To be dumped for another woman shatters your self esteem beyond belief, especially after you believe you’ve tried your best (and when she’s not the most attractive piece of work J). Dump the ego. This is not about you. Its about someone else, albeit your partner and what they are seeking. Perhaps it is the other way around and they just don’t feel good enough for you and so need to settle for someone more appropriate to them!
- Self Doubt – the classic question every mother/wife asks herself. Did I do enough? Am I doing enough? Let me answer it for you – yes you are. This was not about what you did or didn’t do. It was about something missing in your marriage. It was about the combination of the two of you just not working out and that’s ok. Sometimes two people outgrow each other and just can’t come together again on any level be it physical, spiritual or emotional
- Be Honest – even if you don’t want to in public. Do it under the covers; in the lap of your best friend; underwater in a swimming pool. It is important to let go of the anger and bitterness at some point and honestly understand that if you were really, truly a happy couple, there would be no space for another person. Do it when you are ready but you MUST do it. Today I believe that if he had come to me and opened his heart out saying that while I was away caring for my mother who was having a heart transplant, he realized we were not right for each other, we would have walked away as two friends; amicable co-parents. The disrespect of his chosen path and the handling of it is what hurt
- Forgive – you will never be able to forget. For years you may have trust or abandonment issues depending on why and how your split happened, but you must forgive him/them right from your very cells; repeatedly. Because if you don’t, this resentment and bitterness is what turns to disease and that doesn’t help your children or you. So forgive – for your sake; not theirs
- Let go – I loved my in laws. I really believed I was a born fit into that family and I loved being the daughter in law of my mother-in-law, the sister-in-law to my brothers and sister in laws. That shatters. Grieve and then let go of them because blood is thicker than water and very rarely do those relationships last in the fragility of a broken marriage. In today’s world, if that means blocking them all off every single social media connection there is, then so be it
- Face your Fears – I went straight from my father’s home to my husband’s home and there were so many things I just never had to handle. Now I can. I can do my taxes, get my cars serviced, sell an old one and buy a new one, book the kids and my holidays, run my monthly budget and live in extremely tight financial conditions. I aint scared of nothing no more. So do it. Jump in and KNOW that you will fly
- Take your time – There will be many opinions on how you should put your life together again but don’t listen to anyone but yourself. Your gut
- Find yourself – in all the fixing and sorting and soothing you end up doing during a divorce, it is really important to figure out who you are. Divorce is one of the 5 known most stressful conditions humans go through. And if you’re going through one it means you’re probably doing a fair bit of shredding and analyzing both your marriage and yourself. Sure, do that. But also focus on the new you. The suddenly single you who needs to find their own identity again minus your other half
Two weeks post my divorce, I found myself on a flight to England, exactly 18 years after I first got on a flight to England, flying the nest for the first time. Like that time 18 years ago, I was single again, going to Oxford to study and starting a new chapter of my life. My time there away from work and from the kids gave me hours to introspect, to understand who I am today and to be ok with myself. Today I’m not licking my wounds anymore. Today I look towards the future with hope and optimism, confidence and positivity because today I know I have faced many fears and overcome them. Perhaps this is God’s way of blessing me and leading me towards a life and a love I never imagined… after all, how many people get second chances?