It’s you here, well me – only now I’m three years into this divorce malarky so I’m a bit more clued up than you – the me of yesteryear. I remember the first day you were alone. It was hell. Actually scrap that, hell requires you feel the pain. You were numb and everything around you was happening in slow – blurred – motion. I’ll let you in on a secret though, over those first weeks a new feeling will start to emerge – a hope and relief that it’s finally all over; a sense of freedom from the chaos. You’ll soon realise the hope is misplaced though. It’s not all over by any stretch of the imagination. Your marriage ended with the divorce but the relationship with your ex, the relationship with the father of your child, is unlikely to ever end. When you have a child with someone there will always, always, be a link that binds you. Whether you want it or not. Just last night – three years later – he reduced you to tears again.
The first year of the divorce will be spent being crushed further and further into the ground by the man you once loved and – as ridiculous as it might now seem – trusted. You’ll realise eventually that there is no instant move which takes you from being chained to him, to independence. Instead it’s a slow road to building a wall between you that is thick enough to protect you from his outbursts, and his fluctuating demands to see his son, to ignoring him for months on end. This never knowing if he is in or out of your lives will be hard to deal with not just for you, but for that little baby you are cradling in your arms as you read this. Together you will weave your way through this messy relationship, updating the story as you go, adding bits and subtracting them as they change over and over. It won’t get any easier each time your baby tells you he wants to see daddy. The explanations for why daddy hasn’t been to see him won’t get any clearer either, not least because you‘re not sure you even understand them. Yet, step by step you will deal with this ever evolving story – helping your son to cope with the new slices of information as they rise and fall in his life.
Those first two years will be a struggle beyond your wildest dreams. Even the beautiful moments you share with your son will be laced together with a web of grief. A moment of love turning into despair at the drop of a tear. Grief for losing your husband. Grief for losing your family. Grief for losing your son’s father. Grief for losing your future as you’d known it. There will be so much grief in those first two years that you will often feel you are drowning. No matter how long you are held under though you will rise to the surface. Each time a little stronger than the last. It’s not fair that you have to do this. It’s not fair that life requires some of us to develop superhuman levels of resilience just to survive the day, but you will do it.
You’ll pang for an ex. It’s a right of passage. You’ll feel like you gave so much, and lost so much of yourself along the way that you won’t know who you are anymore. You’ll cling to the hope of an ex to come and rescue you. To remind you who you were. I’m sorry – it won’t happen. You aren’t that person anymore. But three years down the line you will start to find yourself again.
Friends will grow distant, some will disappear. Maybe because they don’t care. Maybe because they don’t know how to show they care. Maybe because they don’t think they are allowed to show they care. It’s hard to know how to support a headstrong woman who’s grieving. Friends will be too wrapped up in their own problems to realise quite how close to the edge you will become. You’ll regret all those times you weren’t there for your friends and resent those when you were, especially for those who turn their back. Slowly you will make new friends. It won’t be quite the same. But nothing ever is.
Perhaps these words aren’t what you expected to hear. I’m supposed to tell you it will get easier, I know. Well, here it goes then.
That hope of the early years. That hope of a calm and happy future will slowly return. When it does, it will appear like an early spring morning. A fleeting feeling of the sun’s rays breathing into your skin. Stronger than any summer sun you can remember. The clouds won’t part forever though. Whilst things will get easier it won’t be a constantly forward motion. I’m standing here now three years down the line, and I can tell you, there are good days, some bad days and occasionally horrendous days, but you know what, you’re still dealing with each and everyone of them as best you can
I might not know yet how our story will end, but I know now that the end is not yet in sight.
Happy divorce anniversary.