My divorce was finalized last week, and while it was a very welcome end to a difficult and emotional process, there's something about that gavel hitting the judge's bench that got me thinking very deeply. I realized that there's a lot of stuff that goes on during a divorce that nobody talks about. There's aftermath. There are mixed emotions. There's almost always a regression to adolescence when you find yourselves fighting over coffee tables or 401(k)s. My divorce was relatively simple from a legal standpoint. There was little to divide and we pretty much agreed on how to share parenting time, so on paper it was fairly tidy. Nonetheless, there's just nothing tidy about it from an emotional standpoint. Now I know that my posts are generally uplifting and positive but I have to warn you...I'm about to hit you with a dose of reality that may not be so pleasant. I changed my mind about posting this about 15 times, but ultimately I decided to share, not because I want to put my dirty laundry out for the world to see. Rather, I feel compelled to share my perspective with the hopes of giving back some significance to the institution of marriage. It disturbs me to see how quickly people start and end marriages nowadays. Too many people think about the wedding without giving any thought to the decades of hard work that come after you get back from the honeymoon. Marriage is difficult. Divorce is even more difficult. So without further ado, here's my list (in no particular order) of things nobody tells you about divorce:
That all of a sudden the life you thought was planned so perfectly is gone and you have to start again from scratch.
That there is a very good chance you will face significant financial setbacks, if not total ruin.
That you won't fit in with your married friends because you don't have a spouse and you won't fit in with your single friends because you have a child.
That a part of you goes missing and it almost feels like a death in the family, but you just have to keep on going because there's no such thing as bereavement leave for divorce.
That no one, no matter how much they love you or how well they mean, will understand what it feels like unless they have been through it themselves.
That the fear of ever trusting another human being with your heart is almost crippling.
That you will burst into tears or fly into an irrational rage at the most random moments because of a song, a smell, a name, a place, a memory, or nothing at all.
That you will always worry about the impact it will have on your children, and you will always hold yourself responsible for it.
That you will get so tired of your sadness that you feel guilty being around other people because you're certain that you will just bring them down.
That there's a good chance you'll lose 50% of your family or support system.
That some of your "friends" will choose a side...and it won't be yours.
That you will have to spend about half of the major holidays without your kids, and that will leave a hole in your heart.
That it gets lonely. So freaking lonely.
That to lawyers, court clerks and judges, your marriage is nothing more than a legal agreement, and that they will end it unceremoniously and without fanfare.
That if you are a single parent, you have the same number of things to do, but now you have to do them with half as many hands and half as much money.
That you will go from feeling so free and liberated one moment to feeling so lost and alone the next. This can happen about 48 times a day.
That even though you know how you should be thinking, acting and praying in order to get through it, sometimes you will be simply unable to do what you know you need to do.
That the longer you've been married, the longer it will take to be become reacquainted with your true self versus the version of yourself that you became while married.
That you will find out who really has your back...and who just says they do.
That even if you are a very positive person you will, at some point in time, find yourself at a pity party for one.
That dating can be really fun but it can also suck pretty hard, especially when text messaging wasn't even really a thing and Instagram didn't exist the last time you tried to date someone. And these "advances" just make it extra complicated.
That people will constantly ask how you're doing, and you will constantly reply with a lie.
That it sucks. Even when it's the best choice, the right choice, or the only choice...it still freaking sucks.