The Divorce Decision: One Year On

In the past, I was definitely guilty of proud thinking. Maybe I still am, however on the score of divorce, I have been well and truly humbled.

I used to find it a mystery how two people, once unbelievably close, could dislike each other so much that they get divorced. I used to wonder how people could date when they weren’t yet divorced.

I am fortunate neither myself nor my ex-husband hate one another, and are pretty amicable most of the time (even if you’re madly in love with someone they can really annoy you from time to time, so I figure it’s ok in this scenario too).

But now I get it much more. Once someone doesn’t want to be with you, there’s not a lot else you can do but let go. This year has been a lesson in letting go and stepping forward.

The Decision
I think it’s fair to say that the decision to divorce was one of the absolute worst experiences of my life. As we had been separated for quite some time, there was an element of relief to a definite decision. But that did not detract from the immense pain.

The relief was a somewhat guilt laden feeling. I didn’t want to be divorced from the man I’d committed to spend my life with, equally I couldn’t continue to live in limbo wondering what would happen next. It was his decision, and with a heavy heart I agreed.

We had been through this decision before, then had attempted, with varied commitment, to resolve everything happily, and the first time we had this conversation at the end of December 2012 was one of the worst days in my life. I have never felt like my heart was breaking more than at that time. There is an actual physical pain that accompanies the words that is crippling. I remember sitting on the living room floor, sobbing my heart out, surrounded by a few incredibly close friends who, regardless of their own New Year plans, were going to be with me to keep me going. If I could put into words the pure agony, an absolute emptiness in your stomach and suffocation of your throat, I would consider myself a talented writer. The best description I can give you is that it feels like the heart is keening, a prolonged, grief-laden wail that comes out of the deepest despair. If my heart could have cried tears it would have done so.

The Paperwork
I was dreading this. As it’s been amicable and fairly gracious, I think I am incredibly fortunate. We decided not to use a solicitor as there was nothing to haggle over, in fact, everything that needed to be exchanged already had been.

The initial filling in was like being kicked in the stomach. There’s nothing that can quite prepare you for seeing the end of your marriage being reduced to cold, hard facts, devoid of emotion, to persuade a judge you don’t have to be married anymore. There’s a word allowance and five reasons to chose from: please include dates and specifics. That was probably the part that made me cry the most. There’s no room to describe how you were once entranced, deliriously happy, and to detail all of the brilliant moments before unhappiness arrived.

We kept each other informed, via awkward messages. There’s no good way to phrase or reply to a message sharing that you’ve sent the next stage back to the court. In our case it would’ve been quicker to just send the whole lot through and have us sign the pile at the start, but that’s not how it works.

The process takes an age. At different stages I had different emotions, the first form and the decree nisi (the point where it’s all but rubber stamped) were the hardest hitting for me. By the time the absolute (the end of our marriage) came around, I was steeled for it, and with a few hugs from my colleagues got on with the day – a far cry from how I was at the start. I realise now, it’s not callous to feel that way, it’s inevitable.

The Realisation
The pivotal point during this year for me, came one afternoon around Easter 2014 when my ex-husband had come round to discuss something, or to exchange post – I no longer remember (which is progress!). As I looked at him I realised that I just no longer felt the same. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him still, or care, but it wasn’t that same feeling. It was a mix again of relief and guilt. The same way that the intensity of feeling changes as a relationship develops, after a break up the feelings must diminish.

Chatting life over with one of my closest friends a few months after, she said of this time, “When you said to me he’d come over and you realised you just didn’t feel the same anymore, that was the moment I knew you would be okay.”.

I think that’s probably when I realised it too.

The Moving On
The new job has definitely helped. To have stayed in the same place, doing the same thing would have felt stagnant for me. Being in a new place with new people who only know the single me is a release. I don’t know what’s round the corner, which while mildly terrifying, is also incredibly exciting. There’s actually some men where I work now too.

I made a decision not to date until I was definitely divorced, inspired by a conversation with a friend. I wanted to enjoy being me, find out who I was, and definitely not hurt someone else by moving on too soon. Now, I’m looking forward to one day having that excitement of a new relationship which I never expected to experience again…every cloud…

Rediscovering me has been a lot of fun. I’m as happy on a night in playing cards and chatting with a cuppa as I am putting on my dancing shoes and drinking a cocktail. My former husband didn’t love it when I danced in my chair at restaurants…I try not to go overboard, but I love to dance so now I do, even sat in chairs. I do things spontaneously; I listen to my own music choices, a big deal for me; I’ve revamped the living room entirely to my tastes.

One year on
So one year on, the pain of divorce has mostly faded. It’s definitely been a year of two halves, hurting, then hopeful. I’ve got through Christmas, birthdays, weddings, every single anniversary, event and experience without falling apart. On what would have been our 12 year dating anniversary, I didn’t even realise until the afternoon. One day maybe it will pass by without me noticing. I don’t even remember the last time I cried.

I understand now how it’s possible to fall out of love with your ex-spouse; if you let it happen, it somehow just happens. I understand why people want to date when they’re not divorced; I’d reached the point where I’d moved on long before the papers came through. I hope, humbly, I’m more understanding now. I’m certainly happier, more content, and ready to enjoy life again, and I hope more gracious with it.

8 thoughts on “The Divorce Decision: One Year On

  1. Divorce and any ending to that matter with the choice of a different ending denied to you, for me was truly a matter of the heart. The legality was a socially constructed formality that meant very little to me. It was same when we got married. The paper work meant nothing. The experiences, emotions and behaviour that showed love cemented our commitment. Similarly and not surprisingly, it was the experiences, emotion and behaviour that destroyed our marriage and had the most impact rather than the final divorce papers. The devastating behaviour and breaking of trust, love and commitment ended our marriage in my eyes long before the rumblings of Divorce was spoken openly. I felt free, relieved and released when my ex husband broke our marriage vows to mend my broken heart, seek what God wants and get on with my life. I did not feel I owed my husband any thing. I did not feel the need to wait to get on with my life and find happiness. It just so happened that my future husband came into the picture quite soon after. However, he was well and truly a friend with potential while we dated for 2 years before making a bigger and longer lasting commitment. Any condemnation was not from God but truly from others. If ‘friends’ felt the need to comment either to me face or behind my back and question my choices then I would say walk a mile in my shoes before you make that judgement. It really isn’t something you can begin to understand until you have been through it.

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    1. I agree with you that, in any experience, you can’t understand fully until you’ve lived it yourself. I hope it wasn’t so much that I judged, but that I didn’t get it and wondered how that could be the case when someone had been so in love. Now I understand, which is good but sad. Like you say – behaviour, emotions and trust are critical and actually we don’t necessarily see these actions in someone else’s relationship. Moving on, like grieving someone’s death can happen before there is any paperwork, because the marriage itself has died. Thanks for being so honest and sharing your experience too. I hope you don’t feel I have ever judged you – it was more of a general wondering!

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  2. No no, lovely Ruth, I could never be offended by anything you say because you are so lovely!! Just an honest reflection on how different each experience is. I meant that any one who hasn’t been through Divorce shouldn’t judge your reasons. I find this matter coming up in the job I do too- Life is always changing. You’ve just about written one report up and everything changes and the plan has to completely change too. Surrounded in paper work that doesn’t really reflect how life, people and relationships can change so dramatically, almost over night.

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  3. Wow! This was a heart felt post. I cannot even begin to imagine what you went through but I am so glad you are okay. I remember my heart breaking for you when it was happening. I did’t know how I could make it better… and I was so far away.

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