Divorce is about change. It’s about starting over. It’s about discovery, and hope and potential. And, divorce is about fears we have about this change. There may be worry over the future, anger at your soon-to-be ex-spouse, a sense of betrayal that you are even in this situation. And many, many more emotions. Even if you are the one initiating the divorce, and feel relieved and anxious to put your marriage behind you, emotions can still be conflicting, intense and overwhelming.
Where are our children in all of this emotional turmoil? When I divorced after 28 years of marriage, my children were legally adults. I wanted this divorce and I wanted out of my marriage. Now. I was so caught up in the whirlwind of my emotions, that I found it difficult to take my children’s perspective. They were grown, they understood these things, didn’t they?
I’m here to tell you that they didn’t understand. I’d breached their trust in the infallibility of their parent’s marriage. Of family life as they knew it. They were angry and hurt that their parents couldn’t keep it together. They showed me, through words, actions and silence, that divorce is like a stone thrown into a pond. The ripples emanate in all directions, changing, for a time, the serenity of the pond’s surface. And I was blind to these ripples.
I went to therapy. I read a lot about divorce. I spent time alone. I began to understand the effects of my decisions upon others. It was painful. And illuminating. The biggest lesson I learned was that divorce is not only about the two people divorcing. That seems so obvious now, but it was almost impossible to see at the time. The bitter pill of divorce is the self-absorption that unwittingly accompanies it.
As I came out of the fog, I began to mend fences with some of the people those ripples have touched. I am not finished yet. My daughters and I are close again. This is my greatest treasure in life. There is little to no friction between my ex- and I. For these I am thankful. The rest I am working on.
If you would like to talk about the swirl of emotions that goes hand in hand with divorce, or the effects of divorce on your children, write me an email, or give me a call. 512-59-0583.
Part 2 of this post will give readers divorcing with kids, some tools to safeguard their children’s emotional wellbeing as the family transitions through divorce.