The hard truth about divorce that no one talks about.
The hard truth about divorce that no one talks about.
On our first dinner date, my now husband and I shared honestly about our experiences with divorce. We were both burned out from the ridiculous online dating scene and were finally willing to bare it all, even to a perfect stranger.
The thing I will always remember my husband saying is that he wished he could bottle the crushing, devastating feeling of losing your entire life to divorce and save it for friends and family members contemplating marriage.
He wanted them to know the weight of their decision to marry, as well as the real consequences of what happens when one or both people in a marriage decide to leave.
From a woman’s perspective.
From a woman’s perspective, divorce often feels like a way out and, in certain circumstances, it should.
In relationships where there is any kind of emotional, spiritual, or physical abuse, where repeat affairs keep happening, or where there is substance abuse, divorce is a sweet savior that many brave women before us fought hard for.
However, as both a woman who experienced divorce and a therapist who has worked with women over the past eight years who are struggling with relationships, I’ve come to realize that women today tend to glorify divorce instead of truly understanding the reality of what happens when the life you’ve built with your partner falls apart.
The truth women don’t want to hear.
Pointing out the harsh realities of divorce, especially as experienced by women, isn’t exactly the popular thing to do these days.
Most women get angry in the beginning, because they are unable and unwilling to hear that maybe divorce isn’t the magical cure to all of their relationship and family problems.
They don’t want to hear that the divorce rate for a second marriage is much higher than a first marriage, or think about the reality of missing out on half their children’s lives, because of new custody arrangements (let alone handing their child off to dad’s new girlfriend every other weekend).
They don’t want to know that chances are, their ex-spouse will meet someone and move on very quickly, turning their attention to their new girlfriend/wife/new mother to their child, or that the new man they meet will probably never love her children like their father will.
Mostly though, women don’t want to face the fact that they will never truly heal from divorce, that it kills something inside of you and, even though you might fall in love and even marry again, your heart will never truly be the same.
Some part of you is forever lost through divorce.
How divorce unfolded for me.
After years of riding the rollercoaster of substance and alcohol abuse, as well as tolerating emotional, spiritual and occasional physical abuse from my first husband, I finally made the decision to leave.
It was a dramatic decision at the time that involved me having to get out of Japan, where we were living at the time, without him knowing. And, I had to rely on people I had just met to help me every step of the way, all the time wondering if he would figure out where I was staying and come after me in a drunken rage.
Over the course of a week, my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest until the moment my plane touched down at home in San Diego, and I knew I was safe and free.
Even though we had no children, the divorce itself was strung out for over the course of two years, until he returned home from Japan and could appear at court hearings.
To anyone reading to my story, they would have thought that I would be happy to be at court, freeing myself from someone who appeared to be my enemy.
But, the truth is, I sat in the hallways outside the courtrooms and cried harder than I had my entire life.
You see, the person I was divorcing was also my best friend, my partner in crime, the person I’d built this life with, thought I’d have children with, and who I had planned on growing old with. Not only was I losing my buddy, I was losing the dream of the life I thought we’d create together.
The worst part was, here I was sobbing almost every day, and he had already met someone and moved on. Before our divorce was even final, he and his new girlfriend were pregnant with a baby, and planning their new life together, while I sat alone and devastated, wondering how I’d ever survive without my person or bring myself to trust anyone enough to let them in again.
I was one of the lucky ones who found someone not long after our divorce was final, but my relationship didn’t take away the hurt from the loss I’d experienced.
When clients and friends ask my advice on healing from divorce, my answer is always the same… you don’t.
You make the best of it, you move on, you might get lucky and fall in love again, but you never really heal from something like that.
Even as I type these words, sitting in my beautiful home with my amazing husband and sweet baby boy, I am brought to tears when I think about the depth of loss I experienced when I chose to leave my first life.
It’s something that will always be part of me, that I will carry with me, and that I will share with other women in the hopes that they will make the right, but completely informed, decision for themselves when it comes to staying or leaving.
About Kara Holmes
As a published author, licensed psychotherapist, new mom and lover of adventure, Kara O'Kane combines her unique background of traditional education and personal life experience to offer a truly authentic and spiritual approach to her work. Whether she's writing, mentoring individual clients, or taking women on life-changing trips all over the world, she embraces a spirit of growth and adventure. You can find out more about Kara at www.adventurous-her.com