A-Z of Divorce: O…is for Overcoming

Recently I’ve taken up running (again). I’m not sporty, so having last year achieved an entire twenty minute run I was delighted – why I stopped there I don’t know – and a year on I’ve had to begin again at running for 90 seconds at a time. Today was a big step up – today was ‘Run for 3 minutes then 5 minutes, twice’. One way I endure embrace these minutes is to count how much I have done along the way. Half way there, two minutes to go, one minute to go, seconds now… overcoming each minute and second becomes important in seeing out those five excruciating minutes when my legs feel like lead. Eventually, I know, it will get easier. I’ll see five minutes as the halfway through my ten, and the ten as halfway through my twenty. But it’s a process that began with me running for 30 seconds – and the first time I did that I genuinely thought it might kill me.

Divorce and separation is the same as running training. Every single minute feels like an eternity. Summoning up the sheer willpower to press through the day takes a reserve of energy that it seems surprising you still possess. Getting through each moment is an ordeal. You cry several times an hour, if not more, and it seems as though this may never stop. Every day is quite simply exhausting.

Waking up brings the sense that something is wrong before reality hits. Get out of bed, eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, pack lunch and leave the house. It’s not that hard: except it is.

Getting out of bed means preparing to face people, to engage in conversation and to appear to be ‘fine’ when in reality you’re anything but. Making choices of what to eat and wear are enough to make you wish you were a child again with someone else making all the decisions. Garnering enough energy to get through the early morning routine is flooring enough to make you ready to return to bed. And this is before you’ve stepped out the house.

Then, daytime over, there’s an evening stretching into hours of time. Decisions about dinner, watching mindless TV, trying not to think, emotions triggered by anything at all, and then bed – alone – to attempt sleep.

When you’ve spent the evenings crying, realising that there was a whole half an hour when you weren’t in tears is a revelation, a triumph. When you got up without having to steel yourself to face the day it’s a relief. Getting through life after separation and divorce is simply overcoming each minute, one after the other, and every moment you overcome is important. Some days I couldn’t reach the end of a ninety second run. But with each fresh attempt my stamina increased and next time I could keep going just a little bit longer.

The part of every hour you don’t cry eventually turns into a whole day you’ve not burst into tears. Every night you fall asleep without texting a friend late into the night or needing music to drown out the silence is a success. These small triumphs take time and take you by surprise but each moment you overcome is indeed triumphant. Focus on that next few seconds, or minute, or hour, or day to get through. It hasn’t made the circumstances change, or the difficulties go away, but for that moment you are not overwhelmed. You have overcome the moment, rather than it overcoming you.

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