It’s important to own your feelings after divorce, shoving them down and covering them up just leads to trouble later on. Even so, eventually it’s time to rejoin life and find your new normal.
The agreement that my ex-husband and I made before we were even married was that we would be a traditional one income family. I’d stay home with the kids and do what I needed to do to make the income stretch as far as it needed to.
I was exceptionally good at making his income stretch. We had eight kids, I home birthed, home schooled, and kept house. I made five star restaurant quality meals every night and they were hot and on the table when he got home. He did not make a lot of money but that didn’t bother me. We were the close family I had always wanted to have. When things deviated from my plan I covered them over and kept on going.
That was normal.
Then a day came when I had to make money because he began having medical issues and lost his job. That was not normal for me. A couple of years afterwards I found him cheating and asked him to leave.
Loudly and violently.
For the first couple of weeks I was sure that my life was over. I know that if it had not been for my kids I would have either committed suicide or just disappeared. Not only was I betrayed by my husband, not only did I have my heart broken, but my fantasy of a “real family” was shattered.
Waiting for Normal
I didn’t realize it at the time but I was waiting for “normal” to come back. I worked long hours, I stopped doing things that I enjoyed, and I went into survival mode. I reminded myself that this wasn’t my “normal” life and as soon as things changed I would be able to be myself again.
Not too long after the separation I met someone. I wasn’t expecting it – I really just was looking for an adult to talk to. After all, I worked at home, homeschooled, and was not exactly an extrovert. I wanted adult companionship, someone to talk to, and part of me longed for someone who made me feel attractive. I hadn’t felt attractive in years – decades. I met someone who not only did all of those things but he had this way of taking care of things for me without me even saying anything about it. One day he came over and apparently noticed that several of the external doors didn’t lock (I live in a 100+ year old house). The next time he came over he brought tools and fixed every one of the locks.
To make a long story short that wonderful man is now my husband and he is still anticipating my needs and desires and taking care of them almost before I know I have them.
So you’d think my life would be back to normal, right?
Still Waiting for Normal
He had a career that paid him a salary that was three or four times as much as I was used living on and I was sure that I would be getting back to normal once we were married and settled. That was short lived – before we were married he had to take an early retirement.
I was going to have to continue working. I would have to wait a little longer for normal. I imagined that once he found another job I would be able to get back to normal. So, I continued to work long hours and wait for normal to return.
It’s been four and a half years and a few weeks ago I had a flash of lucidity – maybe the first that I’d had since the night the ex left.
Well Hell, This Is Normal
This was normal. This was my life and I loved everything about it except…
Except it didn’t feel normal. I wanted to clean my house, to cook five star meals, and to be what I considered to be a real wife. I wanted to meet him at the door with a kiss, be available whenever he needed me, and totally focus on my family. That’s what normal was for me.
I was angry all over again because I felt that if anyone deserved the wife that I had been it wasn’t my ex – it was this man who had stepped up to the plate and taken on my chaotic household and money-pit house. Everything in me fought against the growing understanding that this is normal until it changes – if it ever does.
I feel like some unknown deity has plucked me up out of myself and put me in someone else’s life with all the right people but not the right circumstances.
It’’s time to come out of survival mode and start living again!
Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: meghannash
Coming Out of Survival Mode
I am nearly 54 years old and I have been waiting for normal for close to seven years. I have a choice – I can continue living in suspended animation until I die or I can suck it up, accept that this is normal, and enjoy all of the fabulous things that make up my life right now.
I have an amazing husband that loves me, my kids are all doing well in life whether that is adult kids in careers or younger kids in school. I miss homeschooling but the kids have adjusted really well. We are financially comfortable and we are relatively healthy. What’s not to love?
I am afraid. You see, if I come out of survival mode and accept that this is normal then I have to accept that the season of life where I was a full time mom and full time wife is over. I will never be that person again and it means that I will have to discover who I am now.
I will have to accept change and move on and I don’t want to give up the good things that I had. I don’t want to go back but I want everything I loved about my life then and everything I love about my life now.
That’s not going to happen.
No one wakes up one morning and realizes that they are no longer in a holding pattern. I suspect it is a long, slow process of accepting reality, changing your priorities, and focusing on all that is good in your life.
Re-evaluate What’s Important
Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to let go of all of the expectations that you’ve been carrying around and try something different. Letting go of the person I was means I have to get to know the person I am. It’s a time of re-evaluation about what I’ve believed and what I have prioritized.
Maybe it’s time for you to do that, too.
Create a block of time when you can be alone and lay the old you to rest with all of her hopes, dreams, and beliefs. Mourn the passing. Accept that that life is over.
Now, think about your new life. What are your hopes and dreams now? What do you believe? Who are you and what do you want?
It’s easier to say than to do – no one knows that more than I do. At the same time, healing won’t come unless we reach for it and go after it. That’s something you can’t do unless you’ve cut ties with your old self.
Today is different. You are totally new, with a new life and new opportunities. The narcissistic ex is history and he can only hurt you if you allow him to. You don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations or agree with anything you don’t believe in. Today you and I are emancipated from the old, worn out, broken people we were and we’re free to move into a better future.
Are you ready? It’s tough to go through it alone. Join First Wives World today and become part of this vital, caring community.
Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User Daniela Vladimirova