I’m about two weeks from finalizing my divorce and it’s been 6 months since we started this process. I’m not going to sugar coat it, this has been the hardest period of my life. Between navigating life as a now single mom, helping my daughter through all the changes, selling our family home, mediating our divorce and living in transition while we wait to close on a new place, I have experienced a multitude of emotions – anger, deep sadness, relief, confusion and clarity.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about 5 things I’ve learned about divorce so far and as with all life’s challenging experiences, I’ve got more lessons to add to the list.
1. A good support system is crucial. I am one incredibly lucky woman. I have phenomenal friends that are willing to help me out with moving, that text me or email me to let me know they’re thinking of me and that they’re there for me when I need a shoulder to cry on. Having people in my life that validate my feelings and what I’m going through, that don’t just tell me to cheer up and look for the bright side of things (when it’s very hard to see a bright side when you’re in the thick of this) and that are patient with me, knowing that I’m not as good as usual with responding timely to texts and emails, make this whole thing a little bit easier. My friends have helped me in so many ways, including one very good friend that’s letting me live with her right now, and without them I’d be so much worse off.
2. I often feel alone. I know I just went on and on about my awesome friends, but as weird as this may sound, I still feel alone a lot. Single parenting is scary. My immediate family lives in Florida so I don’t have many family members around if I really needed someone. That’s also why it’s really critical for me to have good friends. I recently signed up for a running race and I needed an emergency contact. My ex was always my emergency contact so I sat there staring at the screen thinking ‘thanks a lot for reminding me that I’m alone.’ I then wrote in a friends name and tried to put it out of my mind but these kinds of things are a reminder that I don’t have a partner any more and that I am alone in a lot of things.
3. Sometimes I’m not OK. My usual self is cheery and positive and has a great attitude about life. The Michelle of right now gets sad easily, feels stuck sometimes, gets angry way more often and can go from having a good day to having a difficult day (emotionally) in the drop of a hat. I don’t like this. I hate this roller-coaster of emotions that I’ve been on but I think it’s normal considering how much change my daughter and I are going through. I have to be the rock for her ALL THE TIME. And that’s how it should be, she’s a child and should not be a support system to me. But I’m finding I’m tired all the time. All.the.time. It takes a lot of energy to just get through the day but I’m just doing the best I can.
4. I’ve been turning to music for comfort a lot. Sia’s song Elastic Heart has been playing on the radio lately and I love that song. It says so much about how I feel.
Well, I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade – it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won’t see me fall apart
‘Cause I’ve got an elastic heart
Other favorites right now – pretty much anything by Ani DiFranco, Mary Lambert and yes, Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood song is pretty much right on.
5. The court mandated parenting class is actually really good. If you’ve gotten divorced in Connecticut and have a minor child you know the class I’m talking about. If you’ve never been in this situation, in order to legally get divorced you have to pay for and take a class aimed at teaching you age appropriate reactions to divorce, etc. I was actually mildly looking forward to it because I hoped it might give me more tips about helping my daughter through all of these transitions and I’m happy to say I got some validation that I’m doing OK so far in that respect and I learned more about what she needs to hear on a daily basis to comfort and reassure her that both mama and daddy love her and we’re still her family no matter what. Class is done and was definitely worth it.
Lastly, I read the most amazingly honest post over on Elephant Journal last week called 10 Things to Expect Before Calling It Quits. It is literally the best piece I’ve read about divorce/separation and I’ve experienced every single one of the 10 things listed. If you’re going through this too please go read it – it will help you see that you are not alone. And I hope you know I’m here for you too.