“Divorce” Needs Clear-Cut Categories

Variety of characters, but one objective: diminish the pain.

Variety of characters, but one objective: diminish the pain.

Talk about divorce with five different people, you will hear five different divorce stories. Yet, in every divorce, one party is clearly not happy — and deep down, their spouse usually knows it. In the five scenarios below, each marriage seems so far off track, too late to “save.” My observation is that divorce should not be lumped into one category because there are so many types. Once the patterns are clear, is there hope for others?

In exhibit A, the husband often comes home to a very depressed wife : she naps often, the house is unkept, dishes are in sink, dinner is not made, kids are running amok. She is bringing him down. After months or years of this, he asks for a divorce.

In exhibit B, the husband comes home from work to the same scenario, only before he can suggest counseling, she announces she is in love with her coworker, who is also married. They have found each other and they are truly soulmates. He is blindsided, but now has an answer to the cause of her condition.

In exhibit C, the wife has filed domestic abuse charges. Her spouse is controlling and belittling. He spends a few nights in jail after roughing her up, and she begins the divorce process. She has a court ordered restraining order. He fights back in court because he wants custody of their daughter. He starts a smear campaign.

In exhibit D, the wife notes her alcoholic husband, who is highly functional at work — enough to keep a job and bring home a regular paycheck– has a shorter and shorter fuse at home. He misses an anniversary, gets physically violent with her or the children. She avoids a “restraint order” for the sake of a quick resolution. She pulls them into counseling. What can be fixed? He becomes angrier, abusive, punishing her for publicly embarrassing him (in private counseling). After two years of his stonewalling, she walks away, confused and hurt.

In exhibit E, a famous movie star gets cheated on by her spouse. He chooses a tattoo artist to cheat on his beautiful, world famous wife. Why? Who knows? Her reaction is lightening swift, however. Within a week, the star has moved out of their shared home and has already begun her new life in another location.

In every exhibit, one spouse is acting out his or her own hidden pain. The other spouse is hurt, blindsided, confused, perhaps afraid. Things unravel, things are said, and it is over. “I thought he/she was the one,” is often said, “But now, I do not know who this person is!” Confusion, chaos, deceit, lies, cheating, stealing, physical injury….experienced by the one who made themselves vulnerable in the early days of the relationship. Or on the other end of the spectrum : depression, lethargy, anxiety, apathy sets in…a family crises …and no amount of flowers delivered will make it better.

Every divorce causes endless pain and needless suffering, and affects many, many people. These scenarios lead to a variety of unbearable outcomes. Kids are stunned, adult siblings are angered, hurt, bitter about the breakup. Isn’t there something that can be done? No. It’s over. Each divorce is hard to talk about, especially with well-meaning married friends. No one enters a marriage wanting a divorce.

Depending on the level of conflict involved, the fallout can be so major that ones judgement can be impaired for a time. Lives implode like the Twin Towers. Family and friends can be patient, listen and acknowledge the pain. Encourage those with a broken heart to be cautious in making decisions. Because each divorce is unique.

Posted in Baby Boomers, Counseling, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Home, Marriage, Opinion, Therapy, Wedding Anniversary | Leave a comment

Divorce: When the Cat is Out of the Bag

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Clearly we are all thinking: Now what?

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How I started feeling “normal” after divorce

What does “normal” feel like after divorce? ?

I have spent many hours interviewing therapists, signing on with a few, hoping that doing whatever one does in therapy would make me feel better. But that begs the question: what does feeling better feel like? I can tell you that it does NOT feel like sitting on a couch for an hour on a sunny afternoon “talking” about my pain. Then going home to “chop wood and carry water” as a single parent in a high conflict divorce. That right there is a recipe for an afternoon that leads to an evening with Canada Dry and Jim Beam.

And I do not “normally” drink the heavy stuff.

Sorry, APA. We live in a very small “metro” area- no fancy therapy methods here. Only Cognitive Behavioral therapy. Is that the best you’ve got? Such a waste of 50 minutes and $80 out of pocket. I would rather pay $80 for a facial or mani /pedi. Or BOTH.

What worked for me was finding a regular church service on Sundays –just so I have a place to go. For a long time, I wasn’t going to any church, and days blended together in a weird way. As one who has gone to church ever since I can remember, Sunday services mark the end of one week and start of another.

I wasn’t mad at God. God is God. He wants only Good for us. He is Love, and the kids and I were definitely not experiencing “love” from my ex-spouse. So I know in my heart I was doing what I needed to do, which was to leave him after he refused to get help.

The sad part is how some people took the news. I was deeply disappointed by the reaction I got from members of my old congregation. It was hostile and kind of dark.(The sideways glances were enough.) And the gossip. (“Yes, Mabel, there she is. Did you know SHE made “Poor Richard” move out of the family home because she accused him of alcoholism and abuse? Honestly! What women will stoop to! I asked her if she didn’t IMAGINE the abuse, because I think she did!)**

Sitting anonymously in a different church gives me peace like rain in the desert. Like dew drops on dry grass. It gives me a sense of doing something that “normal” families do on Sunday. I like being there. The music or the sermon doesn’t even have to be great, but I am grateful to be there and be myself, without looking over my shoulder or sensing the tension and discontent in my spouse. Here I feel like I am moving on with my life one hour a week at a time.

When my son (age 13) gets himself up , gets dressed and attends services with me — without the average teenager gnashing of teeth– I know we are going to be okay and SomeOne Holy is working in our lives to heal and to make us whole.

Now I am not any holier than the next person, and I do not “see rainbows” or anything. All I know is that by staying consistent, grasping on to that one hour of a week, like a rock climber grabs onto a single craig jutting out from the face of a sheer cliff, it has made a difference.

Being surrounded by people helps. And I just cannot see the way out clearly yet, but eventually I will.

**This was an actual question I got from a woman in the healthcare field who was a leader in my old congregation.

Posted in Church, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Faith, God, Home, Marriage, Opinion, Therapy | 3 Comments

Where No Man Has Gone Before?

Where No Man Has Gone Before?

Sometimes we feel like we are clearly in uncharted territory.

Divorce will do that to you. But your kids will, too. They can make me feel so…old. And they don’t know how great they have it. I brought home a Roku device (which I love, but will save that story for another post.) Fired it up, and selected Star Trek, the original, 1967-era series, for my dear son (age 13) to soak up.

Have you seen it lately? One look at the bridge on “Star Trek” and you will see so many common devices that the younger generation will just yawn. But not on my watch. Nope. I felt compelled to point things out to him. “Honey, do you see Uhura’s headset? It’s a Bluetooth! Captain Kirk’s Taser? It’s a stun gun! Spock’s communicator? It’s a Motorola Razr! When this show aired on television, none of those things had been INVENTED yet! Isn’t that cool?”

He just looked at me, “Yeah, Mom.”

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Til death….or behavior…do us part

Peace Rose

You never know when it will rear its ugly head. You can be minding your own business when out of the blue you hear “that song” or see “that restaurant” and boom, you are right back with your ex spouse in your head — and it doesn’t feel good at all. The memories can overpower you. It is like taking a cold gallon of milk out of the fridge, thinking about how delicious that milk will be with your fresh baked chunky-chocolate chip cookie. Only, when you unscrew the lid, the milk is expired and it hits you – man, this stuff is BAD! How could I have let it go bad so fast?

Sometimes, milk just goes bad all on its own. You just have to deal with it. You can’t make it “good” again. It has to go.

Same with wedding anniversaries when your marriage is a mess. Weirdly, today was okay. It would have been our 23rd, our first since it was final last fall.

Our son was at his dad’s this weekend, being Father’s Day, so I knew it might be a tough day. But honestly, it was really okay. We got married late in the day, and today I was packing up the house, listing all that could be donated. Wedding dress – yep, donate. Wait, I was wearing thar dress 23 years ago TODAY.

In 1990, my parents were not happy we had chosen Father’s Day weekend. They constantly crabbed about the inconvenience. Looking back to that day, I didn’t feel that “joy” everyone talks about, but I figured it was because of stress from family and planning the thing. First red flag.

Fast forward 23 years, no anniversary will ever be as tough as living through the one that made me realize the marriage was over. That was June 16 of 2010, and that one was unbearable. Just unbearable.

As a married couple, we spent the better part of that day — our 20th anniversary– on the couch of the minister’s office. I had bruises all over from a fight we had had the night before. It had not been the first time. The minister just listened, mostly to me cry, for more than two hours. Then he looked at my husband and said: “You had better get this right. She won’t be around much longer. You keep this up, and she will leave you.”

Within 30 days, I did leave him. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. He did not make it easy. But I am so glad I did.

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Getting Back in the Game

Thank you for the likes and comments! I have been blogging off and on since 2006; when my marriage started to unravel in 2007-08 the blogging all went to hell in a hand-basket. So I am happy now to be back in the game. At least on the Scrabble board.

Okay, this was way too much fun, so share this if you like! ( Does this count as shameless promotion? )

Okay, this was way too much fun, so share this if you like! ( Does this count as shameless promotion? )


Trouble is, social platforms change/ improve so quickly I am not sure how all the bells and whistles work here yet ( this is not the WP of yore, but much cooler), so please be patient with me. If this were Twitter, I would be tweeting, “right back at ya!”

So consider yourselves thanked.

I will be on Twitter again and FB when I get the momentum going agin. I had an awesome experience with Twitter and social media bloggers in 2011-12, until my Twitter account got highjacked / spammed /trolled so badly that good hearted followers were letting me know what was being said about my account on other sites. Funny how it just happened to be trolled at the same time as the most wretched part (middle) of my divorce, which was far, far, far from amicable. ( I never mentioned the divorce on Twitter, it was purely a business account.) Coincidence? You be the judge. My former spouse has a degree in computer IT and a great income and had lots of time on his hands to meddle in cyberspace.

But that’s another story.

Thank you for the likes and follows and comments. I hope to keep contributing something worthwhile.

Thank you for the likes and follows and comments. I hope to keep contributing something worthwhile.

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Somedays You Just Love a Good Nap!

Somedays You Love a Good Nap!

“General” George Clooney, our Bombay kitty, joined us last September as a very young, frightened stray we found in a parking lot. (It was a cool crisp day, and he darted away from everyone else who tried to rescue him but us, of course.) He has a beautiful, sleek, short-haired coat and greenish copper eyes. He is handsome and affectionate.

When he is awake, he is watchfully lounging in the middle of the room, perusing his “territory” as if he owns the place. However, his first weeks with us, he slept alert, atop the upright piano, back to the wall, sitting like a sphinx, eyes closed for only moments at a time.

Now, eight months later, when he is “off duty,” he sleeps in complete warmth and safety, and, I might add, with much abandon. :)

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Baby Boomers: Divorced Like Me

This is a new beginning. A fresh start, like fresh cut grass this time of year anywhere in North America. image
It’s about life and the death of a life, about the deepest grief; and about the songs and dreams and heartache and mixed up memories that weave in and out of said grief. It’s about missing the partner you thought you had for life, and living in the new silences like forgotten corners of an isolated intensive care unit, which, of course, it is, without meds or meals. And while you are wondering what went wrong, you are just left, well, wondering.

It’s about looking in the mirror, looking for answers, pouring over Rumi, Lao Tze, Thich Nat Hahn, Carolyn Myss, Deepak Chopra, Bonhoeffer, the Gospel of Luke; reading about Living Water Jesus talks about with the woman at the well, looking for my own jug to take to the Well, and wondering how to get there. It is about trying to keep healthy habits, not giving up, learning to sleep alone (without the beloved) and trying to follow the advice to love yourself, whatever that means.

But in the end, the death of a marriage can’t be completely healed through support groups or books or retreats or Dr. Phil or even talk therapy; it can’t be fixed by a second job or at the gym or in shop therapy or by the bottle or drugs or sleeping, even though each of these things help in moderation. The only way through it is by getting to the point that we remember what divorce caused us to forget: Love. That all we have to give really, is love. We have nothing else. We are love, love is spiritual, and to love we shall return. Love, and because we live in a physical, three dimensional world, moving forward one step at a time, is all there is.

We all fail sometime, and no one is right 100 per cent of the time, even your ex spouse or people who think they “know” what went wrong in your marriage and who is to “blame.”

I can only write about my experience, the things I read, did, actions others did for me during critical times, and finally, the challenges and eventual blessings that resulted. Turns out Love wasn’t the wrong thing to do. The part that was wrong was for me to keep going back to that well which had clearly run dry. Your thoughts?

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