names omitted in this post
With my left hand gripping the tan leather steering wheel… I maneuvered the curving road with enjoyment... was there nothing better than not being in a hurry and music playing, being able to just fall into a song and let it carry you to your next destination.... the sunroof was open allowing a fall breeze to blow in… trees in changing colors of copper, mustard yellow and radiant red passed by along my route... my long brown hair flew behind me with glints of auburn catching the afternoon sun… the top of my head shining like a crimson irish crown in the rearview mirror. Music… lyrics blasted from the radio and I sang along to the lyrics, taking the curves as they came…
"… listen to the wind blow
watch the sun rise
run in the shadows
damn your love
damn your lies
and if you don't love me now
you will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
you would never break the chain…"
~ the chain fleetwood mac
The night before had been emotionally trying… to say the very least. It was a season of just post divorce… and unlike my ex who had upon my filing a year earlier immediately joining a divorce support group at a local church... I hadn't.
Instead, I had diligently attended individual therapy sessions which had been an enormous help in navigating the rocky road of divorce and learning about how incredibly toxic my ex's behavior was. That his behavior wasn't something to be minimized… ours couldn't be chalked up as "just another divorce" like many other's. It couldn't be explained away as two people "who just can't seem to get along" but it was due to controlling, emotionally toxic behavior that was purposeful and punishing on his part. This was someone who consciously chose not to behave with respect and chose to merely win… who you couldn't have a conversation with on the phone because he would merely shut you down with "Jennifer!", who then followed ironically with… "If you'd like to have a discussion about the issue in person we can… otherwise this is what I'm doing" … it left you bewildered… obviously wondering how you could possibly fathom having an actual discussion "in person" when it wasn't possible to communicate properly in the typical give and take healthy folks have on the phone… conversations with him always involved stonewalling and my being interrupted, my feeling belittled, with his agenda being spewed full force like venom from a monster… and it understandably left you so exasperated that you weren't really sure if you wanted to beat the phone, him or your own head against the wall out of complete and utter frustration.
The previous night I had done something I'd never done… opened up about my divorce in a personal group setting. When the gentleman leading the divorce care group I had attended at a local church turned to me and said "Jennifer… why don't you tell us a little about your story"… I was a little taken aback… I'd been fine with watching the video and filling out the workbook… but talking about it in a group? Really? I hadn't been prepared for that. Faces stared at me expectantly and waited.
"Um… I really didn't think I needed this class" I began… feeling like I'd been in a state of denial on some level... "but watching the video upset me." I admitted and my bottom lip began to do that quivery thing I hate and I tried to bite it to make it stop it already… I knew what was coming behind that quiver and I wanted to stop it… a floodgate of tears that had been kept at bay for over a year. "The thing is… I've only cried like a few times during the divorce. I don't think I realized until I got here tonight how much I needed this. I've been holding most all of it in and just pushing forward."
He nodded and gently asked who I could relate to in the video and I told him… then I briefly explained how I had discovered my ex's infidelity… how I had initially been angry I'd had a husband who wasn't loyal. How his actions had broken up our marriage and yet… really, the truth was, at the end of the day the marriage wasn't healthy anyway. This I knew. That the relationship was comparable to a ticking time bomb. I told him I'd experienced a mix of hurt, anger and yes, even relief at the demise of my marriage and yet as time went on… most of my deep hurt had been buried, pushed deep down, viewed like a high maintenance need no one had time for and I certainly didn't... this was game time, this was hit the deck time, this was me less than gracefully telling myself daily "Get your arse out of bed(!)" and going out each day attempting to make up for lost time in creating a career and financial stability. There was maybe self-focused anger on some level that I'd allowed someone else's life's dreams to over shadow mine. This was "I don't have time for tears... I've got a business to build"... and that was more important than facing (with a box of tissues) what some creep had done that at one time I was married to.
As I explained a bit more of what had led me to where I sat at that moment… I wiped tears from my hot cheeks and he nodded sympathetically. Others murmured in agreement that they too had experienced a similar mix of emotions as well. The woman beside me kindly handed me the tissue box for the third time and our group leader spoke…
"It sounds like your ex believed he could just do what he wished. That he believed you either wouldn't find out or he thought you'd accept it." He told me sadly, dressed in khakis and a burgundy golf shirt… his peppered hair shone under the lights in the room and his kind blue eyes twinkled. I nodded in sad agreement and balled up the wad of damp kleenex in my right fist laying in my lap wishing the tears would stop already... I felt like a snotty three year old girl and it couldn't be even close to pretty.
He began moving around the wide circle and one by one each person told their story… hurts and injustices abounded as well as tissues passed to one another. It was affirming to hear that so many people seemed to have similar emotions and very real fears… one woman spoke of how she was terrified of having to now support herself after many years of marriage, as her husband had been the provider. She kept questioning if she was truly capable of doing it. She was job searching and not having much luck, she admitted… I smiled kindly at her with total and complete understanding... praying encouragement for her, determination and favor to wash over her.
Once making his way back around the circle our group leader spoke of how God was grieving beside each of us in the loss of our marriages… that He would help each of us move forward… bit by bit into the next chapter. He confirmed that by admitting our deepest hurts and true feelings only then could we begin the healing process… because feelings that are pushed aside or squashed only serve to keep us in the past… in that quagmire of suffering. But when we can honestly admit what were experiencing and not feel shame or the need to escape it… but embrace it… then we can break that chain… the cycle of pain and move into the future.
With his eloquent words he assured us that one day we may very well meet someone new… likely when we least expect it… as he himself had… and he was incredibly happy… he praised his wife and spoke of how incredibly blessed he was. He looked over at me and smiled...
"Just take it slow… heal first… and then you'll be ready for someone that will make you realize love is totally possible… and it can be so much better than it ever was before."
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
3 Tips For Healing After Divorce:
1. Be gentle with yourself:
Take time to relax, to pamper yourself.
Read a book, journal, take a bubble bath, listen to relaxing music. Don't over-schedule or hold high expectations of yourself. Life may seem a bit foggy right now… and there may be times you feel frazzled like you can't locate the basic things you need or function as efficiently as you previously had. But your energy is being used to grieve and heal. It's normal to be tired and maybe
fatigued. If fatigue persists, or
sleep issues, even depression,
see your doctor.
2. Begin a fresh start:
Painting your home, getting
started on a new creative project,
re-organization, volunteering, gardening... as your comfort level increases small changes can be a good thing. This is your new life and whether you're wanting to learn new recipes you've put off way too long or to travel… tiny steps can make a big difference.
3. Find forgiveness:
Even though you find forgiveness for your ex it also doesn't equate to condoning the poor behavior of his or her actions. Forgiveness cleanses your spirit, brings you peace and calm. It is a process and it can be yours.