Ok. So if you’re a regular reader, you know that the five Mondays in this month of June are “My Story Mondays” – a series of crossover posts with The Naked Redhead. If, however, you’re not a regular reader (as you should be), the five Mondays in this month of June are “My Story Mondays” with The Naked Redhead.
We’re both divorced and decided to join forces to tell you, dear reader, about our experiences therewith. In this third installment, we’re going to talk about how it feels to get and be divorced. Click here to read TNR’s account. You can read it before or after reading the below, either way is fine with me. So let’s get into it:
How Divorce Feels
It hurts. A lot.
At first, the pain for me was pretty darned unbearable. I drowned it in booze as best I could, but that acted as much as salt in the wound as it opiated. The pain for me wasn’t just emotional, either: my heart literally felt broken. I had this horrible throbbing pain in my chest that took weeks to dissipate. That pain walked with me whether I was balling my eyes out or not.
I couldn’t eat. I wouldn’t say that everything tasted like ashes in my mouth, but I just had no appetite. It was like I didn’t have a reason to eat. As a result, I went through a few weeks of downward-spiral of low blood sugar – I had no energy because I couldn’t eat, nor did I have the energy to eat. It sucked pretty bad.
I know I’ve said this before, but it felt like someone had opened up my scull and scooped out a handful (with not particularly clean hands) of my brain: everything that I thought about somehow touched on the fact that M wasn’t with me anymore. I didn’t know if I wanted to live or die. Again, as I’ve mentioned beore, being married was all I ever really wanted out of life – and everything reminded me of the fact that I had just lost that.
From the time that M and I first started living together, everything I did in some way touched upon her – grocery shopping, holidays, what time I was getting home from work – you name it, from the mundane day-to-day stuff to the important once-in-a-lifetime stuff, my world revolved around her. So every time I took a crap or went to work or walked the dogs, I thought of her. I had spent the last few years pretty much obsessing over my wife and my married life.
It wasn’t like the object of my obsession was gone, there was just nothing I could do to act out on my obsession anymore.
My emotions ranged. Self-pity was probably the first, most intense, and most constant feeling. It’s like when we go to a funeral – we’re not really crying because the person died, we’re crying because they’re not in our lives anymore. That we can’t tell them one more time that we love them or that it’s their turn to take out the garbage. We cry at funerals because we’re sad for us. So with me and my divorce. I cried because the biggest piece of my life was now gone and I had no idea what to do. Being married fulfilled a sense of purpose for me, and I was directionless when it ended.
Heck, I still kinda am.
If it ever even left at all, self-pity stayed with me for a very long time. I can still feel it if I dig back through my happy memories – but, like the sage said “living in the past brings depression, and living in the future brings anxiety”. So today, I try not to do to much digging. I think self-pity is kind of infectious – it’ll slip into today through those happy memories.
For a little while, I tried to hate her. I tried real hard to channel my anguish into negative feelings toward M. Thing is, I loved her, for chrissake, and for me that’s an unconditional kind of thing. I learned that from my mom. So, as much as I tried to rationalize everything into a clear-cut Ted=good, M=bad situation, I just couldn’t. It didn’t make sense. And I’m an excellent rationalizer.
The sage also said “time heals all wounds”. Which sucks in the short-term, but gets truer in the long-term. My heart broke when I left in July of 2003 – I’m coming up on six years of being divorced in about a month.
Let me break away from the topic for a second: TNR’s blog is about realtionships – you can find some great advice in there. Part of the reason we’re doing this is to help the next guy/gal down the road who has to deal with divorce in their life. In a way, the point of this is to transmit advice based on our own experiences to those who may have the shite karma to follow in our footsteps.
I’m not really good at giving advice. I mean, I am, but I’m really not good at taking advice – it’s something I’m working on, though. So, paradoxically, the person who might best be able to identify with me on this stuff doesn’t want to hear my advice, either. So I’m not really going to give any advice here. I’m just going to tell you what it was like for me (like I’ve been doing), and hope that maybe you get something out of it, dear reader-like-me.
So here’s the deal: it’s been just about six years since all this went down, and I still reminisce a bit. I don’t go to shrinks because I don’t believe in them – but that’s just me. If therapy is something that’s worked for you in the past, or if you’re out of options, give it a shot. I’m what they call a “stuffer”: I stuff my emotions way down inside of me until they get too condensed and intense and everything ends up busting out all at once in a way that makes no sense. I’ve been trying to get away from that, too.
It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve really started to open up to other people about my divorce and my feelings thereabout. And I’ve found that to be the best medicine for me. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what happened, what went wrong, what I did wrong, etc. But I kind of thought myself in circles. Talking about it with other people has allowed me to remember things that I didn’t realize were there.
I’m moving toward a kind of objectivity about the whole thing, which, in my opinion, is really the only healthy way to go. I’m acknowledging my part in the crumbling of my marriage, and I’m also recognizing M’s role. Sort of. I’m not getting too much into M’s feelings at the time because I don’t know what they were. I’m just doing the best I can to understand where I’m at with myself, and how to be ok with where I am.
In my experience, there hasn’t been any quick and easy way to “deal with it”; it’s just taken time. If I find myself slipping into some kind of self-pity loop, I find something else to think about or do. I’ve spent a lot of time concentrating very hard on cleaning my apartment. Over time, I’ve built new experiences that are closer to memory than those of my marriage. As I accumulate these – both happy and sad – my divorce isn’t quite the “new thing” to get all worked up about. In fact, I don’t get “worked up” about it at all anymore. It’s just a fact. Like any deep cut, it’s healed into a scar. It’s not as acutely painful anymore; it doesn’t monopolize my thoughts like there’s nothing else. It’s just there. It’s a reminder – maybe to be more careful, but I don’t know.
I have a lot of scars. One goes across the pad of my right thumb. If I look closely, I can see the scar and how my fingerprint doesn’t quite line up since having it stitched back together. Every once in a while, I’ll hit that spot in the center where there’s a little ball of scar tissue that sits over a teeny bundle of nerve endings. Sometimes it sends kind of a shooting pain up into my forearm, and sometimes it’s like a charley-horse. It never hurts as bad as when it was first healing and the nerves were all exposed, but it’s still there and there’s really no telling what will set it off. Oh, I can play with it and make my thumb go numb or repeat that pain to my forearm, but I don’t really do that anymore. I hardly even notice it’s there – until I notice it’s there.
My divorce is kind of like that. Every once in a while, something will hit me just right emotionally and I’ll get a lump in my throat and something caught in my eye. Or, I’ll get kind of a deja-vu-type feeling – je ne se qua, if you parlay the froggie – kind of like when I walk out of the house and know I’m forgetting something, but don’t know what it is.
My hope is that new love will erase all the painful memories and all the pain I feel from the good ones – but I’m not much of a hoper, so I make do with what I’ve got. I don’t look outside of myself for solutions to things that happen within; I soldier on. I don’t know if this is the best way to do it or not, but it’s the way I’m doing it, and I’m pretty happy. Being single kind of sucks for me right now, and I often feel like I’m just looking for another object of my obsession. I think that’s a good thing for me to recognize, so that if and when love ever does return, I’ll remember that I need to be a whole person, content with myself, with or without marriage.