Monday, April 25, 2011

Morning After Mourning

Talking about life after divorce can sometimes feel maudlin because we first have to deal with the divorce to get to the life after. Divorce is the death of something. It is the loss of a substantial relationship. It renders parties back to an acquaintance relationship, stripping all personal intimacies of their perceived value and/or impact. It nullifies the timeless effort put into nurturing said relationship. That is a lot to lose.

How are we supposed to recover, regroup and get back in the game after that?  We have to be active in grieving the loss and recovering our true selves. The relationship between my ex husband and me is functional because of the time I allowed myself to grieve this marriage.

Do you know how grief works? Whether it is a loss through death, divorce or any other kind, we will all experience loss and the stages of grieving are the same:
The Five Stages of Grief
'I am so mad that I put my time, my energy, and my trust into this relationship and this is how it turns out'. You may be angry at God, your spouse, the perceived enemy of your marriage (you know that ho...sorry I digress).
This is akin to the angry  you were when you cut up all of his underclothes and placed them neatly back in the drawer. Oh that was me. My bad. But you know what I mean about that level of anger.

I not only embraced this stage of mourning, I embodied it. I was mad as hell. On second thought, let me be truthful. There are moments when I get mad all over again. I have learned to toss that back to God like a hot potato, breath, and remember my life possibilities. I am less like to grow angry today than I was a year ago.

Anger is a mask for fear - what we sometimes fear in the case of divorce is that we have somehow failed. We also fear leaving what is familiar, no matter how bad it is, for what is unfamiliar. When you get past being angry, you can focus on what you fear comes next.

'God, if you do this, I will do that.' 'I promise I won't be over critical of the little things. I promise I won't nag.' Etc. and so on. It is likely that we will promise anything to salvage the crumbling pieces of our wedded bliss dream.
I not only bargained with God about this marriage, but with myself and my children. I didn't realize it at the time, but every minute I spent praying for this marriage to stay intact, with my bargaining tool being if I do everything right in the eyes of God He will save my marriage, I was bargaining the well being of the people I loved the most: my children, my self, and yes, even my ex.

This is not happening. It will all be worked out in just a little while. He will come to his true God given senses and recognize my worth; the worth of our family; his errant ways. Ima just wait and it will all work out fine. This is not the script of my life. 
Yeah, I gave denial a good run. The only problem is eventually I realized that yes, this was happening. Since all things work together for the good of those who love Christ and are called according to His name, I have to trust that this will work for my good, in the end.

You have every right to feel some sort of depression over the loss of your whole way of life and a significant love relationship. You feel lethargic, fatigued, not interested in life happening all around you. You may feel despondent, a change in eating habits, grooming habits, sexual desire, social participation. You may feel an overwhelming guilt at what you consider your failure, and have questions of why you are not enough for the ex. You may question your qualities, attractiveness, physical prowess, intelligence - all kinds of enemy placed questions may inhabit your psyche.
I can't imagine a person living who has not felt the sting of this stage. It is a natural response to loss - why would you not feel depression over losing something that had such merit in your life? The biggest issue I faced was the people around me determining when and why I was depressed. When I wasn't depressed, the Sanders Family Hotline deemed me depressed and inconsolable.  When I was depressed the Sanders Family Therapy Guru's prescribed I get up and do something with myself. My sincere advice is that if you feel depressed, allow yourself experience it. Remind yourself of who you are and whose you are often. Get a mantra. You cannot circumvent the stages of grief. If not now, when?

*Note: If your depression continues for weeks, see your Doctor. You need some help that you cannot provide for yourself.

It is what it is and that is all. This really has happened and I have to embrace life in a new way. It won't ever be the same, it will be different.
This is the prized stage of grieving and it is hard to come by. I had to work hard to get to here, and I work hard to stay here, as well. Every single day it becomes easier to do that, and because of it, I am living a fully divorced life.

Because we have children, acceptance means I can maintain a positive relationship with their father that benefits all of us. Whether or not he has danced with the grief stages or not, I bring positive insight into each encounter we have.

I do still believe in marriage. I believe in the contract, the covenant, the relationship and the sanctity of marriage. Even though society makes it seem like the normal thing for two people who don't like each other to do, divorce is huge.

I counsel married folk to consider the consequences carefully and wisely when divorce is in the conversation. Pray about it, talk about it, seek counseling if both parties are willing - fight for your marriage. I did.

God hates divorce. He even hates my divorce. Plus, no one else will live with the burden of the decision, so no other should have any decision making power in the middle of a storm at high sea.

My best advice, though, is to folk who are divorced. Grieve this relationship. When your grieving is done, you will experience a new day like the arrival of Spring after a particularly horrific winter.
Start learning what you like, what you want, and how to get it. Start moving toward your goals and your purpose. Don't wallow in pity while you grieve, live life to the fullest. Do some things you have never done but always wanted to try. Get some support from somebody who has been there or at least is a trained grief counselor. But know deep within yourself that weeping only endures for a night. Joy comes after mourning.


  1. A very passionate piece, thank you for having the courage to share it. I think the stages you described are as you pointed out applicable to any hard loss. I find myself relating to personal losses of my own. Thanks again for sharing. :)


  2. This is a very informative and real piece. I agree with so many things that you touched on. It can be a long process finding your way back. But that is ok. I think the most important thing is that you learn from it. And that you learn yourself. Life is a journey that was never promised to be easy and we did not come with manuals. But we most definitely can create a manual to help others along the way. And this seems to be what you are doing. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I apprecaite your comments, William and Adrian. I really hope that if anyone else can gain from my experience, as I walk this thing out with God, my sharing will enable them to do that. I hope you continue to follow and comment!