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Things no one told me about divorce
If you've been through a divorce, first of all, I need to apologize.
I was that person, judging you from afar. I grew up in the evangelical church and was always taught that divorce was never an option. So when you went through it, through all of that pain and made the difficult choice that is not for anyone else to make, I looked down on you with my judgmental eyes.
But life is funny, isn't it? It has a way of humbling us in our most unhumble moments.
Little did I know at my arrogant, foolish and way too young 20 years of age, that I myself would join you on the path to ending a marriage. It happened though, and I've learned a lot. But the things I've learned weren't learned from a text book or a Hollywood movie.
The things I've learned were learned from experience. And that's what I'm going to share with you.
When I was going through my divorce a few years ago, there was so much I didn't understand. All I based my knowledge on was what I observed from other peoples' experiences. In other words, as an outsider. I had no real grasp on what all of it entailed until I actually went through it myself. And to my surprise, I found myself in a situation that wasn't like anything I witnessed.
There was no guide, no instruction manual. Of course I got unsolicited advice from "friends" and well-meaning acquaintances about the ordeal, but they always contradicted each other and their words always left me even more confused.
Here are the top 5 things I've learned from divorce, that no one told me:
Divorce can turn into a divorce SEASON. As if ending a marital relationship isn't hard enough, other relationships will likely become affected too. Get ready to lose friends, acquaintances, family members. There is an array of reasons one loses relationships in divorce. People will judge on moral grounds, friends will be jealous of your newfound happiness, friends will choose to believe lies being spread about you, family may choose the side of your ex-spouse since there are two sides to every story, some people will jeopardize your wellbeing to prop up the wrong people in the name of "peacekeeping", and friends who you thought would be your friends for life will mysteriously ghost you.
Child custody is not a "one size fits all". When you think of child custody, you think of the wife having full custody, or the parents splitting custody, or the husband having full custody only if the wife is unfit to be a mother. But there are all sorts of custody arrangements in between that are less talked about and it's OK. What works for one family may not work for another family.
Relationships with kids change, for worse or for better. In some big ways, my relationships with my kids changed for the better. And in some other ways, not so much. No matter which way you slice divorce, relationships with your kids will evolve or devolve depending on the way you choose to go about things, specific personalities and stages of life. Whatever the outcome, get ready for conversations. Your kids will have a lot of questions and you'll need to be ready to answer according to their stage of life. If given the power, kids would always choose for their parents to remain together and at peace.
Entering a state of hypervigilance. When a person goes through something incredibly difficult and life altering, they often enter a state of being what psychologists like to call "hypervigilance". This basically means a state of survival. You'll find yourself exhausted when you finally feel at ease and happy again. Embrace this exhaustion. Get as much rest as you can. Get a good therapist, and a best friend you can trust to share your inner struggles with. Meditate. Pray. Work hard. Use your gifts and your talents. Find your new you. Hypervigilance doesn't last forever but it's an important step in your metamorphosis. Even caterpillars have to rest for a while before they become butterflies.
People make assumptions and have opinions about life after divorce and are VERY vocal about it. Didn't go about things in the cookie-cutter typical way that is normalized in society? Be prepared for the unsolicited commentary. Recently, a troll found me on online and condemned me for the way I'm handling my post-divorce life, while sharing private information. Someone I'd never heard of, who turned out to be a friend of a "friend". If this happens to you, remember to have perspective. It's YOUR life and you get to decide what's best for you and your family. Period. No if's, and's or but's. Remember point 1. Put these people in their place, kindly but firmly and let God do the rest.
If you're about to go through divorce, my heart goes out to you. Whatever the reason may be, you will be ok. You will come out the other side stronger than ever. If you're going through any of this, I would love to hear from you.
Equip yourself with knowledge and your future self will thank you. I know it's painful now, but it won't always be.
There is happiness waiting for you that you didn't even know possible.