Welcome to the Club – You Will Survive Your Divorce: 8 Lessons I Learned From My Painful Divorce by Kim Wadsworth
My husband had a girlfriend. He was in love with her. I confirmed what I knew was true, like most women do, on his phone while he was taking out the trash at 7 a.m. a few days before Thanksgiving a few years ago.
I could not react to this devastating news because I had to get my two boys, ages 4 and 6, ready to leave for school. So, I helped them get dressed, made them breakfast, dropped one off at preschool and the other one off at elementary school all with a smile on my face. Isn’t that what women do? We smile. We proceed. We pretend like everything is sunshine and rainbows, which is total BS! To the outside world, it was just another chilly morning in upstate New York.
When I was finally alone in my car, I could react to the text that I had read over an hour before. And boy did I react! I started crying and then hyperventilating and just started driving. I ended up at my high school best friend’s house. At one point, I had to pull over because I could not focus on driving. I just sat in my car, alone, with a million thoughts running through my head.
When I did get to my best friend’s house, like a true BFF she gave me a hug and a huge glass of wine. Yes, it was around 9 in the morning, but the situation called for it. She left me in her guest bedroom with the bottle of wine and a Xanax, while she went downstairs and worked. After another two glasses of wine, a Xanax and many conversations with my sister and other BFs, I fell asleep.
The next few months were a bit of a blur. I call it my “blurriness and bottles” phase. I would show up at friends’ houses hysterically crying with no makeup on, hair in a bun and the stench of not showering for days. They all listened, provided me with much needed alcohol and hugs. When I finally emerged from this state looking like an actual human being with my hair done and makeup on, one of my BFs lovingly said, “Wow, you look great! You are pretty!”
So, you’re divorced, too? Big deal! I can say this now. If someone said that to me during the blurriness and bottles phase, I may have wanted to stab them several times in the eye. The pain, anger, frustration and betrayal were so deep at the time, I did not think that I would ever emerge, but I did. People say, “You really do not know how strong you are until you have to be.” I did not know how true this was until I had to be strong; I had to take care of my boys, I had to go to work, I had to live.
The national length of marriage in the United States is about 8.2 years. I made it 8.3 years. Sixty percent of couples who get married between the ages of 20 and 25 will end in divorce, while those who get married after the age of 25 are 24 percent less likely to get divorced. I am not encouraging people to not get married or to get a divorce. However, if you are part of that percentage that does get a divorce, welcome to the club!
I have learned a few things from this experience:
- You will make it to the other side. You will make it there even stronger, more sure of yourself and more confident – if you are willing to put in the effort.
- Rely on friends and do not pretend that there are rainbows and sunshine coming out of your ass. Say “I am a mess, I am falling apart, I don’t know how I can do this. Can I come over? Can you bring me a bottle of wine?”
- Ask for help with the kids.
- Go to therapy. No, therapy is not fun, but it is worth it.
- Take mental health days if you need to and watch Netflix in bed all day and block out the world. When it is too overwhelming, take one day at a time or one hour at a time or even one minute at a time.
- Start journaling. Journal the day it happened and every year or six months from that date and see your growth. It is amazing how a year, 365 days, can change a person.
- Practice gratitude. Your marriage needed to end; your life did not. Write one or two things that you are grateful for in your journal every day. You will be surprised how many amazing people and experiences are in your life. If you focus on the good, the good will win.
- Do something for yourself. Do something for yourself to symbolize your growth or experience as a reminder that you are a badass woman and can deal with anything that comes your way. I bought myself a divorce present. (I never got a push present, so why not?!) I bought a divorce ring. I wear it on my right hand, and I love it. It is a reminder to me that I am financially independent, a stronger woman than what I was a year ago and a reminder that I made it. I made it through the most devastating experience that had ever occurred in my life.
I also got a tattoo! My first Mother’s Day without my husband, my mom and sister gave me a necklace with a pendant attached. At first glance, I thought it was a cool design and then I looked closer. It had two J's intertwined in it for my two boys’ names. This is the tattoo on my left wrist. When I look at it, I can remember that there is something more important in my life than myself.
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