Sunday, August 5, 2012

Surviving My Divorce



I realized today that it has been two years since my marriage began to unravel and one year since Sam and I separated.  I wish I could go back and tell myself that it was all going to be okay.  I have friends who are just beginning the process and my heart goes out to them.  Everyone handles grief differently.  And going through a divorce is definitely a grief process.  You grieve the life you thought you were going to have and you grieve for your children.  Here is what helped me get through that difficult time:

First, please find people to confide in who will listen to you without telling you what to do.  Or if everyone does tell you what to do, listen, but try to listen to your heart and Heavenly Father more.  Ashley was a good, non-bossy listener:



Second, expect that this will be the worst time in your life.  Just wallow in it. Give in to it.  Get in your bed and cry.  Stop thinking that somehow you are going to get around the misery and the heartache without actually working your way through it.  If you are using other things as a distraction to avoid feeling the pain...stop it.  Believe me, it will hit you at some point so you might as well deal with your feelings now.  Along those same lines, your sadness will hit you at odd times.  I remember standing at the Macy's counter returning a knife set Sam gave me for Christmas.  The lady helping me said "Are you sure you want to return these knives, they are really a nice set."  I started bawling.  It felt like a symbol of me returning the life I had and loved.

Third, find a great Therapist/Counselor.  My marriage counselor met with me by myself in addition to meeting with me and Sam together during the year that Sam and I were doing marriage counseling.  The time I spent with her alone did so much more for me than the time I spent in there with Sam.  She convinced me that my divorce wasn't about me and helped me to get over feelings of regret, guilt, and anger.  Ask around for references.  You would be surprised at how many people/couples have seen a counselor.   Don't be embarrassed to ask friends if they have one they can recommend.

Fourth, spoil yourself.  No one else is going to do it.  I picked up good lunches for myself (because food is very important to me) and bought myself stuff that I wouldn't have normally splurged on.  Take your happiness anywhere you can find it.  I know, I know, stuff doesn't provide lasting happiness but it sure helps in the short term.

Fifth, exercise.  Just do it.  Every day.  Even if you hate it.  This was a life saver for me and for every single person I have talked to who has gone through a divorce.  The endorphins help.  Just getting out of the house every morning helps.  I did Club Phat when I things were going downhill with Sam and it was so good for me to have something else to focus on other than my failing marriage.  Training for a race or something along those lines would be great too.  Here is a picture of my good friend Kristen and I doing the Des News 10k:


Sixth, look on the bright side.  You won't believe this right now, but there are upsides to getting divorced.  I can see those now.  It isn't really kosher to say this but I love my time alone without my kids when Sam has them.  I love the break and getting stuff done.  My married friends are secretly jealous of my Saturdays "off."  I don't feel bad and I don't allow myself to miss my kids because when I do have them, It is a full time job with no help.  I also have learned how to manage my money and take care of all of my financial matters.  My dad has helped me a lot in this area...see this post.  But I feel empowered and secure now that I am on top of all of the grown up things.

Seventh, Try to get over the labels.  You know what I am talking about..."divorcee" (my least favorite!), "single mom", "broken family", "part member family", etc.  I remember being at church one day and having to walk out because we were having a lesson about missionary work where they kept talking about part member families.  I decided that day, I hated the label.  We were so much more than that.  However, now, the labels don't bother me so much.  Now I almost wear the "single mom" label like a badge of honor.

Eighth, try to get along with your ex...even if it is just for your kids.  If you can get along during the getting out phase, you will probably always get along.  People always tell me how great it is that Sam and I get along so well.  I am very lucky because Sam pays me every month, he shows up, he helps.  He isn't a jerk.  But there are times when it is still awkward.  We put our feelings aside and do our best to be kind to each other and accomodating because let's face it, we are in each other's lives forever because of our kids.  We took this picture together recently so that my kids have something to bring to school when they have to bring a photo of their family.  It was something we did just to help them have less stress when that situation arises:



Ninth, Rely on the Savior.  No matter what religion you are, look to a higher power for help and direction and perspective.  I found so much hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and healing in the Atonement.  Reading my scriptures, praying and attending the temple saved me during that critical time.  When Sam moved out, I felt very peaceful and calm and happy.  Not because he left, but because I felt the Spirit telling me I was doing the right thing.  That kind of peace cannot be found anywhere else.

Tenth, finally, know that this too shall pass.  Someday, you will wake up and go an entire day without thinking about the fact that you are divorced.  It will be your new normal.  Your kids will be okay, even better than okay..they will be happy.  I am only a year out from getting separated and I am happy.  I am much happier than I was living in the no man's land of "should I stay or should I go."



Maybe my next post will be about re-entering the dating scene the second time around!  Heaven help me.

20 comments:

Lauri said...

I truly love you and admire you Brooke, more than you could know!! xoxo

Holly said...

You are the epitome of dealing with a divorce with dignity and respect. As I told you before, there will be someone that will love and respect you and your children for the rest of your life and eternity and they will get to be a part of ALL of your life!

Jill said...

Another great, honest post Brooke!!

Ashley said...

First of all, I am a totally bossy listener. It's just that you have no problem dismissing my advice/opinions immediately, so it all works out!

It's crazy that it's been two years--because I can so clearly remember those first moments when I knew what you were going through and how ill and devastated I felt--how pervasive those feelings were even for me which were only a fraction of your experience. More importantly though, it's crazy that it's been two years and you (all of us I suppose) have come so very far. Your last point about coming through it into a new normal life where there is happiness again is true, and there were certainly times you weren't convinced of that two years ago so it's great to see it come to fruition.

Linda said...

I too, think that you handled the divorce about as well as it could be handled. And you and Sam CONTINUE to make it as good a situation as you can. I'm convinced that is why your kids are doing so well. I'm glad you/we are "through the worst and on to the "new normal." Good things to come, Brookie!

Jill T said...

Good post Brooke. Wow, two years. I'm glad that you are happy. And that your kids are happy. You are a survivor!

alexandra said...

What a great post. I am going to send it to someone I know going through a similar experience. You are lucky that you have Ashley to turn to when you need to talk. I feel like she would be a perfect counselor. These past two years must have been so crazy for you and I am so glad that you are on the other side and feeling good. I am really looking forward to seeing how things unfold in your life!

SewSara said...

you are amazing brooke!
i really admire you and what youve been thru.sorry... typing one handed while feeding the baby. xoxo

Amy M. said...

This is the best post. Everyone going through a divorce needs to read it. Well done.

Linde said...

Great post Brooke. You say it all so well!!!

sarahw said...

Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary bypass.---I read this quote recently. Even though I haven't been through a divorce, I have seen the toll it takes on those going through it. Brooke, You have survived this coronary bypass--you seem happier, more savvy, and even more beautiful. What an example you are now to those going through the hard, dark times of divorce.

Pandy said...

I become painfully jealous when I see women who have sisters who can share the good times and the bad with them. You are so fortunate to have Ashley - and an incredibly supportive family. I never doubted your ability to survive this, but I have been amazed at the pure class you and Sam have demonstrated by focusing on the well-being of your beautiful children. I admire you for that. You're doing great, Brookie! Love ya!

The Mostess said...

Ashley is a good, non-bossy listener.

I have been seriously impressed with how you two have tried your best to get along. Awkward, yes, but the best it can be. I love that you took a family picture all together. You're still a family--always will be.

Em said...

You rock. What a classy post. Thank you for sharing your experience!

Kimmie said...

Sure love ya Brooke....that picture of you and buster melts me...Brooklyn is my " bright spot" in life, just as buster is your "saving grace"!

Brett said...

Brooke, as you have opened up on surviving a divorce so well, I am growing to throw a tough one. How about a blog post on how to keep a marriage together? You have a lot of married readers here all with imperfect marriages. Looking back on your experiences, can you offer any advise to friends (both husbands and wives) as to what they can do for their spouses to keep two imperfect people together?

Darcy Nimmons said...

Excellent tips on how to survive a divorce! I think what a lot of people who have a negative view or opinion of divorce but haven’t gone through it don’t really understand or appreciate is that the process is a struggle to hold on, not to let go. Divorce doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. It’s a long, stressful process that also involves trying to keep everything together. It’s about holding on to the happiness that was. So, yes, as you said, it WILL be the worst time in your life, but that doesn’t have to be all it is. As with any fall, the important thing is getting back up and starting to walk again.

Darcy Nimmons

Unknown said...

I just stumbled upon this post and sweet little blog today. Thank you for your encouraging words regarding this topic. I am newly separated from my soon to be ex and it feels good to know that it is okay to grieve over the life I had planned with him. That is so tough for me to get past right now, it's almost like now what do I do?! I know through Christ there will be life after this but seeing it from your perspective helps.

Tyler Goodwin said...

I would definitely agree with you with the third one. Sometimes, people just need to let out all the pent up emotions, and talking to somebody can really help release all of those. A good therapist can definitely help in such a situation. And it isn’t something to be embarrassed about; it’s one way of letting people know that you are moving on.


@Tyler Goodwin

Janay Stiles said...

It’s good to hear that, even after your divorce 2 years ago, you and Sam still have time for the whole family. That’s certainly good for the kids, especially since they need people to look up to as they grow older. A divorce affects not just the husband and wife, but the kids more so. Some kids even get into the thinking that they are the reason for their parents’ separation, so spending time with them would really be a great help for them to understand the truth about the matter.


@Janay Stiles