I have a friend who is going through a divorce right now. I won’t say who because I think she deserves her privacy and it is her business to tell, not mine. But I have few thoughts on what she is going through.
The first time I experienced divorce it was my parents. Things had not been good for years. Long years. We all pretended things were okay, but we knew they weren’t. Cold silences. Tense atmospheres. Folded blankets and a pillow on the couch. Broken doorknobs. Evidence that things really were not “okay.” The divorce hurt us kids. Dad was gone. We moved from the home we had known for all our lives. We changed school districts and lost all of our old friends. New ones were hard to make. And every other weekend with dad didn’t always go well either. Everything changed, and it was all painful.
Those last few of their marriage and the first few after the divorce — until I could go to college and escape — were HARD. I coped by burying everything deep, deep inside and becoming an angry, sarcastic, “tough” kid. I didn’t need anyone. It didn’t help that my new schoolmates made it very apparent that I didn’t belong and never would. That just made the isolation and anger worse.
Fortunately, I had a teacher that got through to me. Oh, he didn’t turn me around and make me a loving, caring, wonderful altruistic member of society (I doubt anyone could have done that!), but he had a HUGE stabilizing effect on me. I may not know which roads I would have chosen without him, but I know they would have been a lot bumpier than the ones I did choose. Because of him, I didn’t make as many bad choices as I know I would have without his guidance. In a lot of ways, Danny Alexander saved me from myself. I eventually turned out okay, but I know in my heart that could not and would not have happened without him in my life during those two and a half years in high school when I could have let my parents’ divorce and my new culture change destroy all the good in me.
The second time I experienced divorce it was my own. I knew the day after I married that I had made a mistake. I’ve often wondered how different I would be, if I had never filed the marriage license and just walked away. But I didn’t. I stayed and I tried. I really tried. I loved. I begged. I pleaded. I talked rationally. I yelled irrationally. I cried. I gave up. I endured. And then HE asked for the divorce. I cried again. Then I was relieved. I should probably divulge the details of my marriage for you to understand just how bad it was for me, but I won’t. All I will say is that I did everything I could to save my marriage, and I failed. However, I don’t believe that I could have saved it. I believe that it was doomed from the start.
But even after escaping what I have described as “Four Years of Hell,” I had my weak moments. I remember a week after I left. I was sitting on my bed, tying my shoes, getting ready for work, when all of a sudden, I thought, “Holy Shit! I’ve left my husband. What have I done? Am I going to make it?” Then I looked around at my apartment. It was clean. The bed was made. The dishes were washed. There were no oily footprints on the carpet. And I could not see daylight between the walls and the floor. My next thought was, “You Idiot! Of course you’re going to be okay!”
What I mean by that is that no matter how bad a marriage is, it still hurts when it ends. You still doubt you’re self-worth. You still wonder if you could have done “more” to save it. You still feel as if part of you has been amputated.
Eventually, most of that goes away. But, if I’m going to be honest, the scars still remain. My husband now is a wonderful man and a fantastic father. He has his moments when he irks me, and other moments he just plain infuriates me, but I would not change him at all. I have something unbelievably good with him and I do not want to lose it under any circumstances. However, when we have a . . . disagreement, shall we say, those old scars start to hurt a little. Those self-doubts come back. Echoes of the past bounce around in my memory. Just because that first marriage is dead doesn’t mean it’s ghost doesn’t still walk around.
Life does get better, but the past never goes away. We have to reconcile ourselves with our past — something with which I still struggle. We have to make peace with it.
Divorce hurts. But like any physical amputation, the pain does dissipate — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly — but it DOES dissipate. Just as the marriage ended, so will the pain.
So have hope, my friend. And remember, some of us understand. We will listen to you vent. We will hold you when you cry. We will rejoice when you smile again.