My 5 Personal Stages of Divorce
* Reel (Jan. 2013 – May 2013)
The pain, hurt, and rejection is unbearable. It honestly felt like someone ripped off my right arm and left me there to figure out how to survive. Constantly, throughout the days, I found myself giving my head a quick shake; in hopes of waking up from this nightmare. It can’t be real! Divorce is something that happens to other people. People without love. People without hope. And people without God. I have an abundance of all 3 of those things…how could this be happening to me? My mind is plagued with “Should haves”. I want desperately to go back in time and do things differently. Oh what I would give for the chance to be a little kinder, to forgive a little quicker, and un-do all of the adversities that lead me to this moment. I feel like a failure: I failed my kids, I failed God, I failed my church & family, I failed all those people who looked up to me; convinced that I had the perfect life and marriage, and worst of all: I failed to have what it takes to be a wife that he is willing to fight for.
*Deal (June 2013 – Dec. 2013)
Survival mode eventually kicks in. As a mother with children who still count on me daily for care and guidance, I forced myself into this stage rather quickly. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, Vacations; as much as you would like to skip over them, they come anyway. They are not the same, and deep down you know…they never will be. Never-the-less, you muster up a smile and you pretend it’s all good. Searching desperately for the wisdom in how to make this harsh reality work. The life you had so beautifully mapped out has now been completely demolished, rebuilding is impossible. Where once I could see decades in front of me, now I literally have no idea what tomorrow will look like. But one can not worry about tomorrow, for like Manna from heaven; we have only been given enough strength to make it through today.
At this point you find a vise to get you through the confusion and fill the gaping hole in your heart. For some it is shopping, or clubbing, or eating, or exercising, or pouring yourself into another relationship. For others it is reading God’s word, getting involved in church activities, seeking out ministries and friendships that will fill this void. For me, it was a combination of all these things. It seemed like every week I had a new Vise of Choice.
*Feel (Jan. 2014 – March 2014)
Eventually, your vise will no longer suffice. The cold pack you were using, even if healthy, begins to lose it’s cooling power. As the numbing wears off, you begin to feel the reality and the depth of what is happening. Allowing myself to take responsibility for my part, while holding my thoughts captive; to not run wild in the wrong direction, is a balancing act of divine strength and courage. The story I write in my head, is most likely very different then the actual story that is going on. It is a minute by minute battle to not compare what is happening within me to what I am seeing around me. My eyes focus on the happiness that others must feel. Whether it is my former and his new, easygoing life, or those around me that get to keep their healthy family unit with seemingly little to no effort.
I don’t know how people get through this stage without a Savior to remind them that this is not their future. That there is an enemy that is constantly whispering lies in their ear. That it’s okay to mourn your marriage and allow yourself to grieve the list of loses that come with that. My therapist once told me: the hardest thing in life that one can go through is the death of a child, the second hardest is divorce, and after that-the death of a spouse. In time I began to understand this better. In divorce there is a form of death with the added elements of anger and rejection. If you loved deeply in your marriage, you are sure to hurt deeply in your divorce. It is best to stop and allow yourself the need to feel this hurt, otherwise you will carry pieces of it around with you. As you live life, there will be moments that will trigger this neglected pain. I would rather endure as much of it as I can now, rather than invest in temporary pain killers the rest of my life; inevitably never to truly recover.
*Kneel (April 2014 – on going)
The weight of carrying this hardship will hopefully bring you to your knees. Give God your burden, for his yoke is light and can be used to haul much of the unneeded baggage away. It won’t happen overnight, the cleansing process is on-going and personally tailor-made, just for you.
An analogy that helps me understand the vast amount of time it will take to heal from this, is picturing myself as Salt in a transparent shaker. My ex-husband (still not an easy term to say) is the Pepper in the shaker that accompanied me for over 20 years. With every experience we shared (whether it be a fond memory or a tough time) a dash of pepper was added to my salt. After years and years of Pepper sifting through me, you can imagine how my salty identity may be hard to recognize. During this kneeling process the Pepper is removed. God takes out one grain at a time, as to not remove any of the saltiness, that is you. At this point it is important for you to stop praying for God to give you what you want and start praying for God to give you what you need. The more time you invest in truly opening up your heart to Him (rather than someone or something else), the more room you give God to get to the Pepper. Lots of light and a clear path are needed in order to effectively grasp those dark spots that have lost their flavor amidst your saltiness.
*Heal (a work in progress)
While still on my knees, my salty goodness begins to show through. I am more able to focus on my hopeful future, rather than on my hopeless past. When asked how I’m doing, I no longer paint myself as the victim on this journey, but a Victor overcoming it. This is not the path I would have chosen, but I accept that it is the path that I am on. This healing, could very well be a process I will continue to go through for the rest of my life. Picturing my boys’ Graduations, Weddings, the birth of Grandchildren… no longer matches the picture of me proudly holding their Dad’s hand as we experience these things as a family unit. As sad as that sounds, I know I will be equipped for those moments when they get here and not a moment before.
I focus on the present, and the blessings that today bring.
We live in an imperfect world and all of us are imperfect people. Disappointments are guaranteed.
My story is not over, but just beginning. I have hope in an Amazing God who is making me whole. Not only is my salt clearly visible in the shaker, but it now contains more flavor then ever before.
I am excited to embrace my new seasoning. As I walk into a new Season of life, I am now able to welcome whatever lies ahead.
To God be the Glory.