When the divorce happened to me I was not prepared for many of the casualties that would come to be. I knew that there would be a change in my life. For instance I knew that I would no longer have the financial protections I had in marriage and that my income would be cut drastically. I knew that I would have to give up my beautiful home that I had personally planned, saw built, and personally decorated from the ground up. It was hard, but I accepted it graciously. I knew that I would remain single the rest of my life and though that was not what I had expected or hoped I knew I could do it. But there have been some unseen casualties from the divorce and I hope that my writing about them will help some of you to cope with it better than I have. Here are five things that I consider casualties of divorce.
1). Confidence In Self
2). Relationships with Family
4). Hopes and Dreams For The Future
Confidence in myself has plummeted and then has risen higher than I ever thought only to plummet once again. I have not been able to find a solid road to a steady confidence in myself. It is like I am constantly reinventing myself. One day I have confidence that I can finish my education and do so only to lose all my confidence in my capabilities when no job is secured. I am thankful that I have an outside source of income to sustain me but having my day filled with a job seems like it would be a better way to forget the pain of divorce. Having a job seems to me a way to feel useful and to move on in life. It would give me less time for reflection which seems to be the times I lose confidence the most. But God hasn’t opened that door for me yet and so I ride a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to confidence in myself. Making the transition from Mrs. to Ms. has also been difficult and my confidence takes a hit often as I maneuver through the journey. I no longer have someone to boost my confidence or to compliment me or even to encourage me which are all necessary in building confidence. Time has made things better but I still am not as confident as I should be and I know it!
My family has always been and always will be the most important part of my life, until divorce happened. I have lost a lot of my family since the divorce, some through death while others simply have drifted away. These losses have been tough on me, more than I care to admit. Divorce is not just the separation of a household and couple but it is also a separation of extended family members. I lost a family and part of an identity when the divorce came. My children are still connected to that family but sadly I am not. I had learned to understand them well and I had learned through the years to love them and worry about them and be excited to see them and now I am to ignore them as though they never existed. I am too loyal of a friend to be able to handle this well. I feel sad when I know that they are gathering for a family reunion that I have no right to attend any longer and would not be welcome if I did because they are no longer my family. This is not the only loss in family relationships either. The relationship that I had with my adult children and their families is altered forever. I was struggling with the same empty nest emotions that many moms struggle with before the divorce and it seems to me that the divorce has made that struggle much harder. I see intergenerational families doing things like having a picnic at the park across from my house or shopping at the mall and they look so happy. Grandpa is chasing the little grandchildren around and swinging them in the air while Grandma is helping set out the food with her adult children and it makes me sad. I watch them as if I were watching a television show longing to have that sort of relationship with my children but knowing that it will never be. They live too far away for one thing and for another the time of family connectedness is always strained even after all these years. I feel the strain but we never talk about it. Their time has to be shared with the other half as well and I have to let them go with a supportive heart but it is still difficult and probably always will be. I know that my children love me but I do not think they like me very much and that is the big difference. I have thought about this at length and the conclusion I have come up with is that I see all too clearly parts of them that remind me of their Dad and it pushes some negative buttons in me that they don’t even know exist. I just want to be free of him even in them but genetics connects them to him as much as to me. Do you know what I mean?
Friendships change when divorce happens too. I heard a person say one time that in her divorce he got the friends and she got the dog! I can relate. It can be a great pressure and strain on some people to remain friends with both people who are divorced. I understand that well. I have appreciated my friends who stuck by me and emotionally supported me but I know it has been difficult for them. When you see someone who is hurt by someone else it hurts you too if you are very loyal and many of my friends are loyal. Time is helpful in healing this but not all friends remain in my life as before. I think it is pretty natural for married people to flock together with other married people and when one of them is suddenly single whether through divorce or death a slight parting of the ways naturally takes place. In some cases it is because the couple was friends with you and your spouse because they knew you and those friends usually stay connected. But in other cases being friends with you was because they knew your spouse much better and so they stay connected with them or drift away completely. I have found that reconnecting with friends I had before I was married has helped me more than I can say. There is something about old connections that seem to help me realize I was a person before marriage and I am a person after divorce. Have you experienced the same?
Another causality of divorce has been my hopes and dreams for the future. They have changed drastically. I no longer feel anchored to a community and sort of drift along in my life. The hopes and dreams I had before divorce were much different. I expected to have parties and family gatherings and be a hostess and a good Grandma and go travelling and help anyone who needed a little boost economically. I no longer have such hopes or dreams. Now I go places only if I have to and until recently I hadn’t entertained in almost ten years. There has been no large family gathering either in a long time. I am working on changing my dreams and hopes but again I feel as though I am drifting through life without a plan. My plan each day is to get up and make certain my son has everything he needs to be successful in his life. My plan is to see my granddaughter once in a while and enjoy watching her grow up. My plan is to talk to my children occasionally and know that they are well. My plan for me hasn’t been developed yet but I am certain it will come, eventually, just not yet.
The final causality of divorce I believe is my expectations. I no longer have any expectations. I have learned through a very painful process not to hold any expectations because everything that I had thought about, hoped for, tried to achieve, and expected to happen have not happened at all. Expectations are over-rated anyway. I place no demands upon anyone anymore and that way I am protected from being disappointed. I spent way too much of my life being disappointed and I just don’t care to be disappointed again. I suppose it is true of most people as we age but the only person that has never disappointed me is my Heavenly Father. He is my rock, my salvation, my redeemer, and the one and only one I can fully count on not to disappoint me. This is not bitterness talking, this is simply a fact. Divorce removed my rose-colored glasses and reality is all that I see now and that has not necessarily been a bad thing for me.
The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:24-30, (New International Version)
If any of you are struggling with the aftermath of divorce in your own life I am sure you will find something in this post that you can identify with. I hope that you can also find peace in knowing that you are not alone in this journey through divorce country. I will wave when we pass each other along the way and also say a prayer for you.