Dealing with divorce is a tough experience in the best of circumstances but is often made worse by friends, family, and co-workers who feel the need to judge the situation, give advice, and generally muddy the already brackish water of the divorce process. At a time when you are at your most vulnerable and questioning your own motives the last thing you need are other people’s opinions.
And everyone from your hairdresser to choir director will have one. You’ll get advice on everything from “getting right back in” to the dating scene to “kicking up” your look so that you will be totally irresistible to your ex (or soon-to-be-ex) and he will realize the folly of his ways. When you are trying to find some solid ground to land on these well-meaning (or not) comments can create swirling chaos in your thoughts and emotions.
- Am I really doing the right thing?
- Am I giving up too easily?
- Was it really my fault?
- No one else is going to want me
- Who is going to want a woman with kids?
- How will I manage financially?
For some of us there was an added terror – Since God hates divorce my relationship with Him is forever damaged.
Are You Doing the Right Thing?
Take deep breaths and clear your head for a minute. Picture the very best experience you had with your ex in the past year. Now, remember the very worst experience. Was the first worth the last? No, I don’t think so either. You did not enter into divorce lightly – maybe it wasn’t your choice, anyway. Moving on with your life is healthy, second guessing yourself is not.
I was told by some of the leadership at the church I was attending that living with my ex in a crappy relationship was better than the sin of divorce and remarriage. They asked me to consider my children – because stepdads often sexually abuse their stepdaughters. Even if they don’t sexually abuse them everyone knows they are physically and verbally abusive.
Read fairy tales much?
Those people may have meant well, they may have thought they were looking out for me, and they may have wanted the best for me but their words planted a real, unnecessary fear in my heart.
Yes, you are doing the right thing.
Are You Giving Up too Easily?
How long have you been married? How long has trouble been brewing in your marriage? You are the only one that knows whether or not you have given it everything you’ve got. Here’s a thought – maybe it isn’t worth everything you’ve got!
My ex cheated and lied. Not just once, not just twice but habitually. We hadn’t even hit our first anniversary before he was in bed with another woman. I gave it everything I had for 30 years and the problems got bigger, not smaller. By the time I had dealt with his lying and cheating for the very last time we had gone through two rounds of marriage counseling and were rebounding from over a decade of minimal sex (his choice, not mine). Things had gotten better. We were talking, we were having incredible sex on a more frequent basis, and I thought we were over the worst of it.
Then I found all of the emails between him and his high school girlfriend. He even told her that we were on our way to divorce.
Did I give up too easily? Many people informed me I had.
Was It Really Your Fault?
The fear that no one will ever love you again is a common one. Don't believe it!
No One is Ever Going to Want You Again
Why not? You are not damaged goods and, no matter what you may have been told, your faults are no worse than anyone else’s. Slap on some lipstick, put on some heels and be yourself. Men will be knocking your door down.
You know, about three days after I kicked the ex out I had lunch with my best friend from high school, who is a guy. I said those very words to him and he told me I was nuts and that as soon as it was made public that I was single I would be turning down dates. It made me feel better and it was actually pretty spot on.
The other part to this is that more than likely it won’t be an issue whether or not someone wants you. You are probably going to want some time to process things.
Who Is Going to Want a Woman with Kids?
Despite your experiences you should know that there are many men out there that are sweet, kind, responsible, and have the courage to take on a family that someone else stepped away from. I have eight kids and when my divorce was final I had six of them still at home and under the age of 18.
Who in the world would want me? Even if someone accepted one or two kids there was no man in his right mind that would take on the chaos and crazy of six (three were teenagers).
I am now remarried to a courageous man who did step up to the plate and take on the challenge of a big family. He had one that was an adult and one that was a junior in high school so he was totally alien to the clamor, action, and insanity of a large household. He has handled it beautifully and all eight of my kids adore him. He has been more of a dad to them than their biological father ever was.
When it is time the right guy will show up and it won’t matter how many kids you have. You watch and see.
How Will You Manage Financially?
You just will. I went from being a stay at home mom that hadn’t worked outside the home in 30 years to being a respected writer that makes more than my ex ever did and provides well for my children. It has been scary, frightening, nerve-wracking, crazy, panic-inducing, exhilarating, and successful. I am managing financially quite well despite the fact that the ex doesn’t like to pay child support.
I struggled and I had to scrimp at first. For the first six months or so after the divorce I took food stamps to ease things a little. I knew I would do whatever it took to make sure that my children were safe, warm, and well fed and you will, too.
You might have to eat beans and rice for a while but you’ll do it. Think outside the box about how you can make extra money. Maybe you love to knit and can knit scarves and sell them on Etsy. Maybe you can give piano lessons, or maybe you can clean houses. If you keep an open mind and heart something will come up that is just right for the moment.
For the first year or so I felt like I was wearing a scarlet A on my chest, not as a sign of adultery but as a sign of failure. I guess it would be a scarlet F, wouldn’t it? I had lost most of my relationships from my church and moved on to another one. I felt like damaged goods, I felt like I had been judged and found guilty, and I felt humiliated and shamed.
That’s just wrong. I did what was best for me and the kids – in fact he was the one that refused to consider reconciliation. I initiated the divorce because I had the money to pay for it and I wanted the control.
If you are wearing that scarlet letter you need to tear that thing off right this minute. There’s not a thing wrong with you that a spa day won’t fix. Taking that first step to your new life is hard but you can do it.
What are the lies that you believed about yourself as you went through divorce? Maybe you’re still struggling with them - join us at First Wive's World and be part of our encouraging community of people who understand.
Lead Image Courtsey of Tafari Anthony - Creative Commons on Flickr