Toughest Climb Ever!
I’ve walked in those shoes. Trudged actually! Although there was a lit runway of signs highlighting impending abandonment, I felt blindsided. I gave new meaning to the phrase, “the woman is the last to know.” Even my daughter (15 at the time) “knew” before I did. And that painful knowledge should never happen! My daughter is an amazing woman today with a fabulous family, but maturity has also unmasked the protective veil that shrouded her in denial about her dad.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Problem was I didn’t need more inner strength. I had plenty of independent spirit and autonomy. Truthfully it was emotional finesse that I lacked.
One evening more than twenty-five years ago, life as I happily knew it was obliterated with the words from my ex: “I think the marriage is over for me.” I felt like I’d been hit by a train. I never knew how physically painful emotional stress could be.
Numb. Nauseous. Dazed. Shocked. Weak. Vulnerable. Rejected. Embarrassed.
There were no words and yet there weren’t enough. I couldn’t even tell my closest girlfriend and confidant for two weeks. Never had I been brought to my knees, let alone shattered in a thousand pathetic pieces.
For me the painfully slow journey through recovery took years. I wallowed in the first two of the seven stages of grief, Shock/Denial and Pain/Guilt, for a ridiculously long time unable to break free. I felt like a human banana without it’s protective peel: bare, exposed, defenseless.
“The pain of divorce is like the pain of death except you keep tripping over the corpse.” My catalyst to recovery occurred at one of the kid’s events when my “corpse” said: “I hear you’re really struggling. I’m glad I’m not your victim!”
“I am NOT your victim!” I proclaimed soundly. I catapulted through the next several Stages in milliseconds as I said those words aloud! No longer weak, vulnerable and embarrassed, Anger motivated me into Reconstruction.
As I continued to rebuild my life I took honest stock of my “pieces”. Truthfully, I wasn’t the “best person I could be” pre-divorce so I decided to assemble a newer version of “me, only better”!
I swept aside impatience, judgment and inflexibility. I kept my stellar multi-tasking skills softened with the recognition that not everyone juggles the project balls like I do without dropping them.
Kept my strong opinions about everything, but acknowledged that others have different points of view worth considering. Genuinely I embraced new perspectives. “I can see why you like that (ugly) couch” rather than “That’s hideous! Blah.” Now when I ask someone how they’re doing, I lean in and listen. Never turn down an invitation for an event. Don’t interrupt though is still a word in progress.
Crazy as this may sound, I eventually came to see myself as someone others would like too. Without arrogance, for the first time in forever, I felt I had a lot to offer should the right relationship opportunity present itself.
One day, like a mouse in a maze, an eerie set of circumstances guided me to, of all professions, a car salesman. The old me would have balked at car salesmen, but the new me was open minded.
My now retired car salesman husband and I have been married almost twenty years!
Ask for Help!
We get there at our own pace and time, just hopefully we do get there. Not everyone does. Tragedies happen to all of us. It’s how we deal with them that defines who we are. If you’re going through what feels to you like the hardest personal journey of your life, no matter how others perceive its magnitude, get help! I did. Lots of it! My closest friends listened to me vent and told me what I needed to hear to survive. For them, I’m eternally grateful. My therapist however was more grounded and told me what I needed to hear to move forward.