A year ago, I was a married woman- not a happily married woman- but a married one. There were signs and red flags popping up everywhere I turned, alerting me to the fact that divorce was inevitable. I tried holding onto my marriage and husband for as long as I could, until I just got tired of lying to myself, my kids, and everyone else, pretending that I was living happily ever with my husband. I knew that getting a divorce would open the door to some difficult times ahead, but having never been married or divorced before, even I didn’t expect to think and feel the way I did.
Now, seven months into my divorce, I am finally learning how to deal with and understand my feelings, thoughts, and emotions. It was, and still is hard being on my own again, but everyday it gets easier and I feel less bat-shit crazy. If you are newly separated or divorced, I’m going to give you a few tips that I’ve learned along the way that might help you deal with how you’re feeling.
1. You will think you need meds and therapy, because you will become temporarily bipolar. Even if you saw the demise of your marriage coming (as I did) you will still go through a range of emotions when the time actually comes to take the steps to end your marriage. You will be happy and excited one day because you finally made the decision to end it, and you will be a crying, blubbering mess the next day for the exact same reason. Embrace these divorce bipolar mood swings, as I call them. You’re not crazy, you don’t need to be thrown into a straight jacket and a padded room. It’s perfectly normal to cry, to be angry, upset, anxious, excited about the future, and sad all at the same time. Cry as often as you need to; find someone you trust to confide in and if you are like me, and don’t prefer to do a lot of talking, buy a journal to express your feelings in or start a blog, of course. Whatever you need to do to help you get through this process, do it. You will find that expressing how you’re feeling rather than bottling them up inside, helps you in the long run.
2. Your ex-husband will become a jerk and you will want to hate him. Since my divorce, I’ve come across the statement: ‘You never really know a man until you divorce him’ several times. I approve this statement. There was already tension, animosity, and resentment floating in the air between my ex and I prior to the divorce, but going through the divorce had all of these feelings on ten. Even though I saw it coming, I still had my days when I was sad that it was ending. A part of me even wondered if we couldn’t possibly work it out…until my ex reminded me exactly why we were headed towards divorce in the first place. He was cold and downright mean a lot of days and unlike me, he acted as if he couldn’t have cared less that our marriage was ending, which made me seriously despise him. He was insensitive to me and my feelings, even telling me at one point that it would be just fine with him when I finally left. Maybe he said that just to be cruel, maybe he meant it, maybe he didn’t…but my dislike for the man he became during our separation was evidenced in the fact that I wouldn’t speak to him for weeks at a time while we waited to go to court. Try not to take his arrogance and rudeness personal. Most men aren’t as tough as they try to act and when they’re hurting, they will act out and do and/or say whatever they have to in order to make you hurt too. Try not to stoop to his level.
3. But once it’s over, he will make an attempt to stay in your life in some way or another. They say you never miss what you had until it’s gone. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to divorce, especially if your ex initially acted as if he was going to go out and party once the wicked witch (you) was gone for good. Even if he moves on (and most of them will because most men use other women and sex to get over a breakup) he will still want to remain in your life, whether it’s because he genuinely still has feelings for you and wants to be friends, or because he can’t stand the thought of you moving on, so he’ll hover around like a dark cloud, or because he wants to see if you still love him enough to allow him to hit you up for a quick booty-call every now and then…he will come back. Don’t fall for it unless you really want him back in your life. You can’t move forward if you keep looking back, and men know this. Sometimes, the ‘let’s still be friends’ crap is a manipulation tactic to prevent you from finding someone else. As long as they remain a fixture in your life, they assume you won’t be so quick to move on. And if moving on is what you’re trying to do, cut all ties with him. Be cordial, but leave it at that.
4. No matter how happy you say you are to be free, times will get hard. Unless you’ve prepared for your divorce by saving money in anticipation of dark and stormy days ahead, you will suddenly find yourself broke and struggling to make ends meet, and this will be even worse if you have kids. One of the best things about marriage is having two people working and paying household expenses, and even then it can still be rough. Now that you’re single and all household bills and expenses fall squarely on you, you will feel overwhelmed and stressed, which can lead to anxiety. After my divorce, I found another place for me and my kids to live, and all of the moving expenses put me so deep in debt, several months went by before I was able to get my checking account out of the negative. I wanted to break down and cry, but stressing and crying solves absolutely nothing. I knew being on my own again wouldn’t be easy, but you have to remember to take it one day at a time. You might have to live off of ramen noodles and bologna sandwiches for a while, until you’re back on your feet, but you’ll get there. Also, as hard as it may be, put your pride aside and ask for and accept help if you need it. It doesn’t make you less of a woman to let family and friends help you get back on your feet and again, if kids are involved, you need to remember that it’s not just you that’s being affected by the divorce.
5.Be prepared for the many lonely (and horny) days and nights that lie ahead of you. For me, I’d stopped being intimate with my ex long before we divorced, so I was already used to not having much sexy time in my life anyway. But after your divorce, unless you jump right back into dating, you are going to be single for a while, and being single can be pretty lonely sometimes. Find yourself some new hobbies, get out of your pjs and out of the house as much as you can. I don’t have many girlfriends, but even if you have to take yourself to a movie or out to eat, do that. I thought it would be weird dining alone, but I actually love it. Go to a painting class, get a gym membership, do something other than become a binge eating, Lifetime watching couch potato. Even if you miss your ex, don’t spend all of your time at home thinking about him and your failed marriage, because while you’re pining away over him, he’s moved on already with your replacement, not thinking about you.
6. You’ll find out how your in-laws really felt about you. I learned this one the hard-and rather disappointing- way. While I expected my ex to blame the demise of our marriage all on me, I had hoped that after nearly ten years together, his family would come to me and at least hear my side, especially since they’d always acted so kind to me and my kids. However, as soon as we separated, I learned that they were only being nice to me because I was married to him. After we separated, whenever I ran into his family members, they gave me a shoulder as cold as Antarctica. And if like me, you actually liked your in-laws and thought they liked you, it will hurt. What you have to remember is that family members rarely take the side of the outsider, even if you weren’t to blame for the marriage ending. Hard as it may be, accept it and move on.
7. Getting divorced can turn you into a bitter bitch. I’ve always been in love with the idea of love, a hopeless romantic. I believed that there was one special person out there, made just for me. But after getting divorced, my opinions about love and romance have changed drastically. I can’t count how many times, “Fuck you, love,” has entered my thoughts. I have found myself rolling my eyes when I hear a coworker talk about her boyfriend or scroll down my Facebook and Instagram timelines and see happy couples posting wedding, anniversary, and date night pics. Don’t give up on hopes of finding love again. It may seem like you’ve missed the one chance you had to not grow old alone, but don’t let divorce defeat you and change your outlook on love and relationships. What’s meant for you is for you. But whatever you do, DON’T LET LONELINESS CAUSE YOU TO SETTLE OR BACKTRACK TO YOUR EX. When you settle, you will find yourself with worse than what you had before. Be patient and again, find you some hobbies to keep you occupied. Take some time to get to know YOU and don’t be so quick to replace your ex. Love found you once, it will find you again.
8. Speaking of settling, stock up on douchebag repellant, because they will flock to your private messages like bees to honey, trying to take advantage of your newfound loneliness and single status. No sooner than I changed my Facebook status from ‘married’ to ‘separated’ my dms started blowing up. First of all, if a man can or will only interact with you in private, it’s a telltale sign that he’s hiding something (or someone) and is up to no good. No matter how bored and/or lonely your nights get, don’t fall for that crap. Tell them to kick rocks.Even if they do put their desire to date you out there for the world to see, take heed. A newly single woman is easy prey to womanizers, abusers, and wannabe players. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, ‘I’m single…not desperate.’ There’s nothing wrong with jumping back into the dating scene, but pay close attention to the men you’re going to meet and make sure they’re suddenly interested in you for the right reasons.
9. You might become the villian in your kids eyes. This one can be hard to deal with. Whether they are your exes biological or step-kids, realize that not only you and him will have to deal with the divorce..the kids will have to get used to a change in the family structure too, and they may not understand or like it. Attitudes and acting out are going to become a part of your new daily life, but try not to take it personal and let it upset and stress you out. Just like you’re having to adjust to your new single life, so are they.My ex was my children’s step-father, but he was in their lives as long as he was in mine, so my teenage son, especially, didn’t take the news of our divorce well. And even though both my ex and I had our faults, our getting divorced seemed to be all my fault in my son’s eyes. He expressed to me several times that he wished we could work out our problems and stay together, which always broke my heart a little more each time. Sit them down and talk to them and explain that even though you and your ex won’t be married anymore, he will still be their dad and a part of their lives, but it’s important for MOM to be happy too. It might take some time for kids to accept the divorce, but don’t get frustrated.
10. Ignore your families unwarranted advice and do what’s best for YOU. My ex was a charmer and because of that, my mother thought he was God’s gift to me. When I told her we were getting a divorce, she immediately blamed me, without even asking or waiting for me to tell her what led up to my divorce. Every time I turned around, I was being confronted by my family members wanting to know what happened and ‘Why’d I let that good man go?’ Even if your family thought your ex walked on water, only YOU know what really went on in your household and caused you to make the decision to end your marriage. You had to live with that man, not them. Don’t let anybody- family or not- guilt you into feeling bad for making the decision to walk away from a situation where you were unhappy.