Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I Wish I Would've Known: Divorce

 I've been thinking lately about my divorce and how the last year {or even two years} played out. I made it through some pretty awful days but there are things I look back on and think, "Wow...I could've handled that a lot better than I did."
Because trauma can cause you to do some pretty crazy things and feel some pretty crazy feelings.

So I wanted to talk about that today; what I wish I would've done differently in my divorce.

I wish I wouldn't have yelled so much.
I wish I wouldn't have yelled at my husband and my parents and my children and myself. I wish I wouldn't have projected my anger at the people I love the most. Maybe my husband could understand why I was yelling because of the pain his choices were causing me. But my family members? No. Even if they understood and were patient, I could have dealt with my anger a little more healthy than I did. I could've smashed plates or thrown rocks at the wall or punched my pillow over and over instead of stuffing my anger until it exploded randomly at whoever was nearest.
I wish I wouldn't have gone numb for so long...and I also wish I could've stayed numb longer. Because right after he left, I went into fight or flight mode and I chose to fly away as far as I could go and pretend like everything was fine. I convinced people I was amazingly strong and that I wasn't lonely but the worst part was that I convinced myself I was amazingly strong and didn't need to grieve like a normal person.
So when the numbing went away, it was horrible. Instead of feeling the pain and heartache in the moment, I was flooded with it all at once, months after the fact.

I wish I wouldn't have doubted myself.
When my husband left, I was firm in my belief that my ability to cook and clean wasn't the reason he left. It didn't matter that he had told me those exact words, I knew it wasn't true. But after the numbing went away, I started to doubt my ability to be a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, and really, I just doubted my ability to be a good human being. I felt like I was worth nothing. My husband had never in our marriage said anything negative about my weight or my looks but because it was an insecurity I already had, I projected that as "the actual reason he left". It was the only thing that made sense to my broken brain. I didn't love my body so I just assumed he didn't love it either.
 I wish I would've asked for more help and felt less guilty when I received help.
Help during divorce is necessary. It just is. There were times I would be crying and a friend would stop by and just take my kids---no questions asked. I had so much help in some of my darkest times. But there were times when I needed help and should've let someone else into my home when I wouldn't. I felt guilty asking for more help but because of this, I had days that were harder than hard but that didn't have to be as hard as they were.
 I wish I would've thought about me more.
I thought about how divorce would affect my kids, how people would judge me, how people would judge my ex-husband, how my family would accept everything, and how unworthy I was. What I didn't think about was how much I was hurting and how much compassion I needed to have for myself. It was so easy having empathy for the hard things my children were going through and I even got to a point where empathy for my ex-husband became possible. But empathy for myself was non-existent. Instead I spent all of my "free time" at the gym or obsessing over my food intake or dreaming about dating and feeling anxious that no one would want to date me and making sure I was still spreading my time among my friends and dishing out time to new friends or numbing my mind with television.
I wasn't thinking about my heart and empathizing with the pain. I was beating myself down for all of the reasons I wasn't good enough. Self-care was non-existent even when it looked existent because I was doing things all for the wrong reasons. I was punishing myself, not loving myself.
I needed my own empathy. I needed to give myself compassion. And I didn't do it.
 I wish I wouldn't have gone off my anti-depressant.
Yup, it's true. I take drugs! I was on anxiety medication the day we separated because I had been getting anxiety for months leading up to the day that huge bomb was dropped on me---I now refer to that as my psycho-good intuition because there wasn't really any proof that things were really wrong. But I was worried that the numbness I was experiencing was as a result of my medication and I was worried that I'd go off the medication a year or two later and all of a sudden, I'd have all these pent up feelings from my divorce. So I went off of them right after our separation started. Weird. And the worst part was, it took me a while to realize how much that affected me during that time. I felt like the same old Suzanne but inside, I was going crazy. I was feeling crazy. I was experiencing anxiety that felt like what PTSD is described to feel like.
In case you're wondering, I no longer feel shame associated with my medication. My goodness, who freaking cares what people think of me swallowing a Zoloft every night? I get to choose what is best for me and I am choosing to help myself have a better life! So I'm sorry if you don't agree with that---actually I'm not really sorry but I do respect your opinion.
The main thing I wish I would've learned a year ago is that people make mistakes and that's ok.
A year ago, I was angry and I wasn't ok with the imperfections of others and my own imperfections. But it's ok that I made mistakes. It's ok that my ex-husband made mistakes. It's ok that my parents made mistakes.
Everyone does it.
We don't have some guide book to help us through our rough times. We figure it out on our own and sometimes, that includes a little trial and error {or a lot of it}.

Although there are things I wish I would've done differently, I've accepted that I can't change the past.

And the greatest part is, we've made it out alive so far! And not only are we surviving, most days we are thriving.

Divorce isn't the end of all happiness and peace.

I am happy. I have found peace.

4 comments:

Tiffany Crespin said...

I too feel guilty about asking for help :) so glad you are getting through and finding happiness. It is hard to get used to being single after a long relationship...day by day is all you can do until it becomes the norm.

Emily said...

I haven't bren to your blog in a long time. My goodness you have been through a lot!

Gregg Jackson said...

It's great that you have realized these things. People would also want to ask you on how you've arrive at this point. Finding happiness and peace for yourself should be one of the goals after having a divorce. Sadly, a lot of people tend to focus on the negative side of the matter. You're right that in times of anger and despair, people may overlook things. At least you're doing way better now than before. Thanks for sharing!

Gregg Jackson @ Sherrill & Cameron, PLLC

Clifford Wheeler said...

I'm happy for you, Suzanne! Divorce is not the end of happiness. If anything, it could be a fresh new start towards it. I understand that those are the things you wish you could've done differently, but at least now you learned exactly what you should do in the midst of a bad experience, like divorce. Thanks for sharing your road to peace with us as always! I wish you all the best! :)

Clifford Wheeler @ Powell Spencer & Partners