Week 11 – The other side

Week eleven – 29 November 2011

For 37 years I lived in this bubble, in a world of how it was expected to be – and was. Mum, Dad, kids, lots of fun times – and they all lived happily ever after. I think perhaps for all those years I lived in a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. I thought I must have been doing all the right things because we after-all had a strong marriage and ‘they’ (divorced people) must not quite have got  it all together. Now here I am over the line and a member of a club that I never asked to join and yet I am the same person I was yesterday enshrined in the sanctuary of marriage and all that went with it.

What surprised me was that some people whom I had known for years mixing with us in the ‘happily-ever-after’ circle were actually in the ‘second-time-around’ circle but had never actually spoken about this to me previously. However, once I crossed over the line, people opened up to me and I heard all their stories and I also heard stories from those who had been married and were now single through their choice (the ‘divorcer’) or through no choice (the ‘divorcee’). They all opened up and talked to me. Some of these stories were from five, ten or twenty years before. For many of the divorced people or twice married people I spoke to, the pain remained – years later. I paid attention to what was causing their pain. I tried to work out what characteristics of their divorces were consistent with each other, to keep them in pain years after the event. The two factors I came up with were (a) a bitter divorce that dragged out over several years in the courts (whether as the ‘divorcer’ or the divorcee’); and (b) being left seemingly out of the blue for another person (‘divorcees’) where the feeling of loss was a lot greater than other situations and where there was feelings of rejection and abandonment.

Where did that leave me as a soon to be ‘divorcee’? Would I be the one bitterly telling people twenty years down the track about being thrust into this space I did not want to be? What could I turn to to help me become one of the ones who could get through this process and not still be in pain years later when all the odds were stacked against me?

I thought of a little saying that had helped me through tough times before

“grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference”
Reinhold Niebuhr

I thought of those things I could not change: I had been left, abandoned, rejected. I could not change that. I would in time learn to accept that. Not quite yet, but sometime in the future.

Then, I thought of things that I could choose to change or bring about, if I could find the courage to do so. Firstly, I could choose to make sure that our divorce settlement was amicable as possible and not go to court. That would cut me out of the first category of people who remained in pain. Secondly – even though I was the ‘divorcee’ and I could not change that – I could choose to move on with my own life; as I had already resolved.

I resolved to myself that these would be two clear aims to strive for.



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