Women, life, happiness
  • “I’m getting divorced, and I don’t know who I am anymore. How did I lose me?”

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    May 16th, 2011Keryl PesceFamily and Relationships, Life in general

     "I'""I'm 46 years old, the mother of two,11 and 14, and the 14-year-old has cerebral palsy. After 21 years, my husband told me he wants a divorce and wants out. I have since found out he has a girlfriend. The marriage has been rocky, but I was in it for the long haul. I've been married since I was 24 years old. I have no idea who I am other than a wife and mother. How did I lose me?"

    First, let me tell you that I feel your pain. My circumstances were different - divorce, change of jobs and a move, all bundled up in one not-so-neatly wrapped package and "Ding-dong.", delivered all at once. Suddenly, who I was, everything that was safe and familiar to me unraveled before my eyes. I was a mess. I was lost and scared. And you've got more on your plate than I did.

    Right off the bat, there are two things I want you to know. One, what you feel, the pain and confusion, the fear, it's all normal. And two, you can get past this.

    You can rediscover who you are as a person, not who you are in relationship to someone else or a role you play. And yes, you can be happy again. Right now it feels far away. But trust me. It isn't. It's closer than you think. And the power to find it is with you.

    I want to use a simply analogy to help you wrap your head around this. I'm not attempting to minimize the challenge you face, but I find when you simplify, rather than complicate, you make more progress.

    Right now, you're stranded in a dingy, bobbing around in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight, no idea in what direction to head or how to get there. As if that's not bad enough, the waters are rough and waves are crashing into you and you're taking on water, scared to death, wondering just how long before you sink to the bottom. About sum it up?

    The answer? Come to your own rescue. You have it in you. I know you do. You don't raise two children, one of whom is disabled without having a little piss and vinegar in your veins. 

    How do you do it? Just like any rescue mission – one step at a time and in order of priority.

    Step 1 – Settle the waters. Stop trying to figuring it all out right away. You don't need all the answers today. This was probably the single most valuable piece of advice given to me when I was in your boat. I was overwhelmed, paralyzed with pressure to figure out my future. Once I stopped trying to figure it all out immediately, my mind became clearer. Give yourself a break. For the next couple of days, just be, just go about your day with your mind with you in the present moment. Calm waters are much easier to navigate. 

    Step 2 – Bail out. Too much weight will sink you. So lighten the load. Allow yourself to cry. I'm guessing you feel the burden of holding it together for your children, and to a large extent, you need to. But you've got every right to be upset. You're grieving the loss of your life as you knew it. Sometimes what we avoid grows stronger. When we face it, it disappears. I kept myself as busy as possible, as to not slow down and face the pain. But what I was doing was running away from it, and it wasn't going anyway until I turned around and faced it square in the eye. Don't be afraid. It's OK. I promise you will feel better.

    Step 3 – Chart your course. Decide what you want. That's not the same thing as knowing what you don't want. It's the dream of Paradise Island on the horizon instead of the nightmare of your life on the ocean floor. Decide who you want to be. That is defined internally, by the kind of person you are, not who you are by association.It's exciting and liberating at the same time, because it is 100% in your control. You find yourself again by caring about you, getting in touch with what makes you happy, what makes you feel fulfilled. Create a new sense of purpose for yourself. Discover or rediscover something you are passionate about, that brings you joy and fulfillment – that you love. And do more of it. Your children are important to you, but the fact is, the happier you are, the happier they will be, so make time to do and pursue what makes you happy.

    Step 4 – Haul in the anchor that's holding you in place. Begin forgiving him. This may not be what you want to hear, but tough cookies. It's exactly what you need to hear. Holding on to anger and resentment is like handing the keys to someone else and letting them drive you around. You give power away over your emotions and your life. Don't do it anymore. I get the anger. Believe me. But wanting pain for someone else more than peace and happiness for you is self-defeating. Your children will sense and adopt your thoughts and feelings. Right now, you have the opportunity to set an example and teach them the power of forgiveness. Many people think forgiveness is weak. That's complete bullshit. It's power.

    Step 5 – Pick up the oars and start rowing. Where you take your life from here is up to you. Get past the thinking that you're a victim or a pawn in the game of life. You're not. You are a woman and will do what we do best – overcome the challenges we face, learn, grow, become stronger and smarter as a result and pass that strength on to the next woman who needs it.

    Life is no longer what it was. And that's OK. You said the marriage was rocky. Release your grip on familiar and reach for better. You don't want a partner who is obligated to stay with you. You want someone who loves you, respects you, and is with you because he adores you.

    Today, that's the reality I live. That's the reality I created, by following these steps. Your future is in your hands. Keep your eye on your destination and never give up. Some days you'll make a lot of progress. Be proud and celebrate. Other days, you may stand still or drift back slightly, but it's OK, it's part of the journey, let yourself rest. But come Hell or high water, just keep rowing until you get to where you want to tie up and dock.

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1 responses to ““I’m getting divorced, and I don’t know who I am anymore. How did I lose me?”” RSS icon

  • At 46, you still have a lot of livin’ to do, Sister! And Keryl is right, you – and only you—can chart your course. If your husband has divested himself emotionally (and physically) from the marriage, throw him overboard! And he can take his “girlfriend” with him. You have to trust that the course from here on out will be new and different, but also as fabulous as you want to make it. None of us can control the weather, but we can control how we enjoy the rain.

    That said, if a marriage is rocky and miserable, there is little point in staying in it “for the long haul”. The same goes for jobs and friendships that have become toxic or have otherwise run their course. Your willingness to stay in a bad situation does not earn you brownie points, sainthood, or even a free drink. There will be no “Ra, ra, sis boom bah!” cheer for you or anybody who chooses to stay “stuck”. Only when we realize just how NOT stuck we are (and we are NEVER stuck, we only allow ourselves to feel as if we are drowning in emotional mud), is when we can re-energize, pull ourselves up by the bootstrap and begin heading straight for what we want out of life. Congratulations! You are nearly there.

    Now, take a big breath in, girlfriend, because you’re are going to need your new-found strength to help you get through the legal part of the process. Keep in mind, the Court is not going to care how you got to where you are. Surely you care, your best friend cares, and your mother cares. But the judge, doesn’t. In other words, the fact that your husband has violated the marriage contract, isn’t going to matter much in terms of how you split up your stuff. The fact that you have a child with special needs, will matter most. Child support and maintenance are simple math. Arm yourself with that knowledge, and you will be able to answer some of the immediately pressing questions, such as, where will we be able to live, and will I be able to afford the electric bill?

    See, you should feel a little better already ?

    You have entered the storm before the calm. Be brave, be smart and above all, be open to all you deserve.


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