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Life changes when you experience a divorce
When I decided to walk away from my marriage and get a divorce, I expected a life change. I expected my ex to leave, I expected to live alone, and to some degree, I expected to fight with him over who keeps what. What I did not expect, however, was to have to experience these crazy psychological, emotional and social life changes that I went through.
I went through seasons of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. I also went through moments of rage, feeling weak, feeling scared, and finally, I experienced a moment of surrendering. At one point, I realized that fighting the process was not going to make me feel better. Instead, I found that surrendering to the process and embracing these life changes gracefully and tactfully was what would ultimately help me recover from this traumatic experience.
You are not alone, many have gotten a divorce
One of the most challenging things I have had to deal with has been my divorce. I married when I was only 24 years old. I thought that’s what I wanted to do, but it turned out that this was not something I was ready for. When I finally realized this, I was already 5 years deep into it, with a whole other slew of baggage to deal with.
I really did not feel like I had anyone to turn to because none of my friends in the dance community were married, and the few non-artist friends that were, either lived far away or they were really happy with each other and they just couldn’t relate to my unhappiness.
I felt alone.
My family wasn’t really there for me during my divorce. They did not help me through all of the life changes I experienced. No one checked up on me, no one asked me to come over so I could talk or have a moment of relaxation. No one ever asked me if I was ok because I was the one who initiated the divorce. I felt like I was in the wrong for doing this. It was like, “Well, you asked for this, so why are you sad? Why are you emotional? This is your doing!”
I recently read a book called The Buddha At My Table by Tammy Letherer. Although I am reading this book 1 year and 6 months after my divorce has been finalized, I still was able to deal with a lot of the suppressed emotions I quietly tucked away after reading this book. One of the emotions I dealt with a lot as I experienced my life change was loneliness. Loneliness has always been a fear of mine, and I tend to not deal with that by jumping into relationships fairly quickly.
In the book, the author talked a lot about her struggle with the realization that her life was drastically changing, and she could not find comfort in anything because it was like her situation was unrelatable. She had gotten to a point where she didn’t even want to continue talking about her issues and her feelings with her friends because she felt like at some point, she would start to annoy her friends and family, and her story would become old news. She was getting sympathy and a listening ear now, but in the future, she felt like she was going to be discarded and left to fend for herself.
Now that’s something I can relate to.
The thing is, we are not alone. Millions of people go through this every year. Our stories are all unique, but they are not unrelatable stories. We all experience a major life change of some sort when we make an important decision for ourselves. This is something to be embraced, no matter how painful.
Millions of people go through this every year. Our stories are all unique, but they are not unrelatable stories.
Like Tammy, I started to think about what I would do to handle the household on my own. I would have to assume all responsibilities without help from anyone. I would have to pay for everything now. No more dual income, no more help from anyone. This was a life change I was not looking forward to, but I was getting a divorce because I needed to find myself again. I needed to find happiness with someone who would actually be an asset to my life, instead of a liability.
Life Change 1: Psychological
In The Buddha At My Table, Tammy began the first part of her life change right after her husband dropped the bomb on her, which was the psychological part of it. She experienced moments of not understanding anything that was happening, and later on she attempted to hold herself responsible for the failure of the marriage by trying to “fix things.” It really didn’t help that her husband was still living at home, and he had no intention of leaving his house either. He expected her to just go along with whatever he wanted to do.
I remember after I told my then-husband I was done with the relationship, I went through a period of second guessing myself, even though I had been thinking about this for years. After I said I was done, I still went back later on to try and fix things. I started to feel guilty for not deciding to just stay in my misery. It would have made him happy, so why was I being so selfish?
I’ll probably talk about why I actually left in another post, but having to make the decision to end the marriage with a divorce was just as hard as having to be told that the relationship would be over. I can only imagine how he must have felt, but the truth is, we both experienced pain. It just happened to be different pain.
For a while, he lived at the house, but things became increasingly difficult. He checked out completely and became more like a shitty roommate. We didn’t talk, and there was always tension in the house whenever we were both home. I’d have a pit in my stomach while I was home. He took over the bedroom, and I moved into the office. I tried having conversations with him about making plans to move forward with the divorce. I would try to talk about the logistics of the divorce, but I could never have a proper conversation with him without it escalating to something ugly. It was mainly because he just would not cooperate. I began having outbursts because I just wanted him to react. In The Buddha At My Table, Tammy also had outbursts because of everything that was going on. It made me feel a little better after reading about her experience. I realized I was not crazy at the time, and I wasn’t the only one who had experienced this life change during my divorce.
Life Change 2: Emotional
Tammy was on the opposite side of the divorce compared to my situation. She was cheated on, and her then-husband confessed to her what he had been doing. He also announced to her that the marriage was over, he did not want to work it out, and he wanted everything to be handled as quickly as possible. One of the most brutal ways to end a marriage if you ask me. I really don’t know how she held her composure after that type of blow. I would have turned into his worst nightmare after something like that.
One of the most grueling life changes one can go through while experiencing a divorce is the emotional life change. Having days when you feel really good, and you feel like you know what you need to do to get out of this situation without any major emotional scars. But then, having days when you feel like it will be impossible to make it through one more day. Feeling like your entire world is crashing down over your head. Even feeling like the answer to your problems is to find someone else to distract you.
In The Buddha At My Table, Tammy talked about her relationship with a man she started dating as she was going through the divorce. She went through a lot of emotional ups and downs while she dated this man. She had found someone who was nurturing certain aspects of her person which had not been nurtured in her marriage. Having these types of people in your life can be good in a way, but it can also cause more problems if you’re not careful.
In my experience, I briefly dated a couple of people. One of them caused a lot of issues for me as we progressed in our relationship. He reminded me a lot of my soon-to-ex, and I found myself dealing with similar issues I was having with my ex. That caused a lot of emotional confusion for me. He also helped me a lot while I was going through the separation process. He helped me practice patience, he helped me tap into my spirituality more, and he definitely empowered me. If I had to do it again, however, I am not so sure I would have jumped into any relationships before having time alone to heal.
Life Change 3: Your Circle Of Family/Friends
Although Tammy did not seem to have lost the people in her corner during the divorce, I certainly did. I went through a period of trying to figure out who had chosen what side. Oh yes, whether you believe it or not, it DOES happen. People will always have allegiance to one of you, but rarely both. There were a couple of people who are still cool with him and I, but that number is very low. In The Buddha At My Table, Tammy didn’t mention whether she lost mutual friends or not. She talked about her friends and how they helped her. I can’t say I had a similar experience. I gained some lifelong friends during this experience, but I also lost a lot of friendships, and I severed ties with certain family members because of the lack of support.
The people in your circle really matter during a divorce. If you have crappy friends, you’ll have a tougher time getting through everything. You’re more likely to fall into an episode of depression or any other mental imbalance. This is the time where mental health awareness is so important. I had quite a few moments where I had to endure things alone because I had no one to talk to. Not even my mom. No one was there for me during this nightmare. Not until later on. Although this seems terrible, it was a blessing in disguise. I began to embrace solitude more after that. I wasn’t so afraid of loneliness anymore. I finally shared some of my experiences with an old friend that I had lost touch with, and she stepped in to help me a little. Soon after, she told me she had shared my story with a mutual friend whom she was dating at the time, and they both wound up becoming pillars to my emotional and psychological rehabilitation. Afterwards, the people I once deemed acquaintances became my family. The ones who were once in my inner circle became distant memories of what I thought friendship was.
There’s always a light, and the light is within you
It was interesting to read about Tammy’s spiritual journey because I didn’t fully reach that stage until after my divorce a couple of years ago. I started to practice awareness once I left the state and moved to Chicago. My journey with awareness started off slow, but it remained steady. It became stronger as time went on. I recently have incorporated yoga into my mental health regimen, and it has been a life changer for me. I always used to look forward to my travels because I enjoyed reaping the benefits of each trip. I’d always come back with answers to my questions, new perspectives to analyze, and a new sense of direction. To this day, I still use traveling as an effective source of therapy.
The choice is ultimately yours. Whether you’d like to emerge from your divorce as a new person or you’d like to avoid repeating any destructive cycles, the will and the resources already reside within you. It only takes the right tools to discover those answers, and that light that is already shining bright within you. Any life change you experience does not have to dim your light.
I recommend The Buddha At My Table by Tammy Letherer for anyone that wants to find strength through other people’s experiences. As a person who experienced a divorce, this was such a good book to read. I found so many moments in the book where I reflected on my own life change and was able to learn something new about my experience through her story. Tammy was very candid and raw in this book, and I learned a lot about the different levels of strength that we all possess as we traverse through this life. Life changes don’t always have to be bad ones. We can choose to turn negatives into positives wherever possible. Divorce is not something easy to go through, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing to experience if you don’t want it to be. It’s all about your perspective and your approach to all the curveballs you will have thrown your way.
Buy the book here:
What was the strongest moment you experienced during your divorce?
I’d love to read what you did to make your experience a positive, life changing one in the comments below.
Until next time, Life Travelers!