On Separation and Divorce
I don’t know where to start this post, because within these words there is much heart-break and grief. This path I’ve watched many go down; empathized with, cried with, and yearned to understand…has not prepared me for actually walking this path myself.
If a friend or family member confided in me their decision to separate from their marriage, I would always meet the pain in their gaze with an “I’m so sorry, What happened?”. Now while I was always very sorry, I should have said: “I’m sorry for the pain you are going through right now, I wish you peace and understanding and I will fully support your family in whatever decision you make.” What I didn’t fully comprehend at the time, was that their decision to separate is not one anyone makes without a whole lot of soul-searching and thought. Sometimes it’s the only decision left to make. That doesn’t mean they aren’t hopeful for a reconciliation, or maybe they are hopeless. And it certainly doesn’t mean the good memories within the marriage aren’t cherished.
The details are no one’s business, but if you love that person…their hurting heart is the only thing one should be concerned about. Anyone going through this simply wants your unconditional support and love without judgements.
I know separation is different for every couple who has gone through it. Some are filled with anger and bitterness. And others, speaking for myself, are filled with resolute sadness that you just can’t seem to verge paths and walk the same one.
There is moving forward within my home, even through the sadness. There is communication and positive co-parenting in my home as we try to prepare our children for a new normal.
I’m unapologetic about this point: I do not see this as a failure. I see it as accepting him as he is, and accepting myself as I am and realizing two people have grown into authentic people who are vastly different yet still deserving of the same respect to be who we are.
I have no idea what my future holds (and I will admit I’m scared); but I will always do my best to create the most peaceful and loving atmosphere for my children. I have learned that sometimes…that means creating two loving and peaceful atmospheres.
I look forward to writing more and finding me through it all. I wouldn’t take anything back from all the years we spent together, all the good and the difficult too. I respect it all.
I know I need to honour this pain. No masking it with anything (especially food, which I have done in the past). I need to sit in it. Feel it. Go through it one day at a time. Grow within it. And have faith that at the end of it all, I will find peace. I will find me again.
So as part of the process, I’ve decided to write a summary of monthly experiences as I’m going through it. I share this because I have learned a very important lesson. Divorce is often a taboo subject within conversation; but now that I’m here, I have had many authentic conversations with others going through it who had once kept their thoughts within. And on the flip side, I’ve also encountered judgement and withdrawal of support.
I am slowly gaining confidence within my voice. Long ago I promised myself that I will always share the vulnerable stuff if it will help another move forward as long as I’m sharing my personal experience and not another’s. And oh my…It’s not easy to be vulnerable.
I started this post while it was still fresh, and came back to it at the end of each month. So here is one year of grieving, dealing, moving forward, and finding me as I start over.
November/15: I slept through as much of November as I could, awakened by the pain of heart ache, fear and responsibility. I couldn’t talk to anyone, closed my door to friends and family, didn’t answer my phone. I gave all my energy to my kids. I looked for a job, and stumbled on a cool opportunity. A role to play a Mom in a marketing video for a Town Christmas event. It was actually empowering to play a role when I was unsure of my own. Small step forward.
December/15: I isolated and cried through December and refused to look at the Christmas tree adorned with years of ornaments; each with their own story of a lifetime of memories built on a foundation that crumbled away.
January/16: I worried, planned, thought and wrote while sitting in the same chair through much of January. I closed my door and my heart to everyone. My best friend Darina was my life line and encouraged me out of that stupid chair.
February/16: I picked myself up in February with the constant that has sustained me and gave me daily purpose: Fitness and uplifting others. Onwards and upwards. I got a job! An amazing job that fits my personality perfectly. Even though I may struggle behind closed doors with the weight of this transition, I am able to channel it into happy, positive, and uplifting at work. It’s authentic joy within purpose and my smile couldn’t be any bigger while I work. I also continued photographing happy families and respected their connection even more. I took to Facebook to announce our divorce because it was like a cruel groundhogs day of awkward face-to-face encounters with friends who didn’t know. It was more awkward for them as I fumbled with words. It’s very hard to maintain any dignity and grace within this process. I’m trying.
March/16: I poured myself into work and my kids. I am a better Mom! I’m tuned in and there is laughter and a whole bunch of active chaos in my home. I dance while I cook again. Not great dancing mind you, but I realize I do love to cook. My kids are amazing little/big people. They are everything to me and the reason I will always strive to just be better. I’m so sorry for their pain, and I will do everything I can to make their world safe and happy. And happiness is not found within “stuff”. Simplifying has been a blessing. I turned 40. Not a fun day lol, but my friends invited me over and surprised me with a birthday celebration. Thank you.
April/16: This is the month of high-highs within my career and finding Me again…and low-lows as we start the divorce mediation process. I can’t explain the range of emotions sitting across a mediation table from your former partner you once shared a life with. Six months ago, he would have been the first person I called to vent/cry/talk about a life-changing experience like this. So odd. Divorce feels like a death. One day they are there, the next day they are gone. I learned painful lessons about letting go of friendships that are not serving our best interests. Yes, both sides. Within letting go, I realized my ex-husband and I are dealing with the break down of our marriage with as much respect as we can even through a whole lot of pain. I wish those who I once shared my heart with could separate that we are two people both deserving of understanding and support. I was raised to be a good friend…loyal to a fault. Cutting people out is not in my nature, but why hang onto someone who flippantly sensationalize the details of our divorce within their conversations. That’s not a true friend. So let go and let God. I know some of those people will find their way to this blog post. I wish you well.
May/16: The month of financial disclosure within the mediation process. Finding documents that were once filed away with different intentions. A snapshot of the life we built together for 23 years, reduced to numbers and graphs. The weight of preparing it all was wearing on me daily. A task I could not run from or procrastinate away. I counteracted my stress with runs in the sun and strength training.
June/16: The month of showing up to old experiences and traditions alone. For example: a baseball game that actually fell on my day off. I was surrounded by parents there together. I felt like I had a spotlight on me: “I’m here alone!” I found a weird strength within it as I was questioned by a parent on where I had been for other games. “I was working” I told her. She turned to her Father (who asked me if I even knew what number my son wore on his jersey)…”See, she wasn’t here because she was working, I’m sure she wanted to be.” Like I owed her an explanation for my absence; her mother soul needed to know that I too had a mother soul and not one of absence for my own selfish needs. I became defiant within my confidence that I was a great Mom. I sat a little taller in my chair and cheered a little louder. Near the end of the month, my daughter and I shared a picnic blanket and lunch at the end of the school wind up. It was a peaceful hour under the shade of a big oak tree. This was also the month I found my voice in an unexpected way, a TV interview for Global about losing the weight and keeping it off. I wanted to turn it down as it scared me. I knew I HAD to do it because of the level of fear I had. The result of the interview brought many like-minded people into my world, and new clients at the studio where I train. Very thankful.
July/16: I travelled to my happy place in July to visit friends who are my chosen family. Us 5 friends (“PACCS”) get together for 1 week every year doing nothing which is everything. We laughed until our stomachs hurt, uplifted one another through tears of love and support, and sat in comfortable silence (and we drank great wine and ate amazing food). I woke up daily knowing exactly who I am and what I want in life. I was confident in the relationships I want to work on, the ones who give just as much as I do. And understood the ones I needed to let go. I found my peace and zen within friends who know me better than I know myself. This was also the month of our wedding anniversary. Sixteen years. It was a very tough day and I was a mess. I grieved. The next day, I woke up with purpose, straightened my crown and went for a long run in the sun.
August/16: Our first family holiday where I was without a partner. It was both healing and difficult. It started with returning to my home town for the fair. I saw many people from my past and most visits were great. I also ran into people I’ve known for years who pretended they didn’t know who I was. Let go. Head held high. The kids had a blast. So amazing to see them smile and laugh. We went to the lake to see my big loving family. I felt alone at times within groups of family whom I love. It’s not their fault at all, it’s something I need to work through. All of these firsts are hard and part of the process. I woke up earlier than everyone else everyday to read and sit on our family dock overlooking still waters of the lake I grew up on. Within the haunting beautiful sounds of the loons, I recalled good memories of my childhood, and understood the importance of building new memories. I was lost in healing reverie. My kids had the best time and spent their days laughing with their cousins exploring the beach with their toes in the sand. Oh, this is worth everything. When I returned from the lake, I felt the weight of anxiety fall on my chest like a lead vest. I had a hard time breathing through it some days. I found solace in writing, reading, praying, and talking to friends and family. There were also amazing days of peace and happiness. The kind of peaceful joy that comes from working through issues I wanted to run away from. I lived authentically. August was healing, painful, joyful, and full of old and new. I found my worth within God’s grace.
September/16: With the changing of the leaves, September brought with it a lot of renewing of my spirit. I got into photography again full force, an area of my heart I put to the side for a while so that I could do it right with a thankful heart. There were months I just couldn’t dive into capturing other’s family love stories while I was struggling to figure out my place within my own. But I found my love for capturing love once again. It was beautiful, empowering, promising, and soulful. I forgot how much I adore photography, how did I forget that? The kids started school and with that, came routine and balance within the hectic pace of busy.
October/16: October, full of editing, training, and learning. It’s my busy season, and there is much purpose found within intentional busy. I’m so thankful for my career(s) and the people I’ve met through both. I realized that through my work, I am in constant contact with people who are bettering their life through health/fitness, and within capturing their love story though photography too. It’s ridiculously empowering and inspires me to work hard and keep my values and goals in check. I adore and respect these people who have come to be my friends. Their spirit feeds my own. It’s a crazy positive momentum of amazing. Through the overwhelming of a long to-do list, I found motivation. Who do I want to be? Go be that. Integrity is key.
November/16: It’s been one year. As much as it feels like 10 years of living encapsulated within 1, it also went by fast in many other ways. My days are long, not a lot of time for dwelling on anything. As I write this, I am scared to hit publish on this post. It is not my place to speak another’s story, and there are many lives intertwined within my own. My empathetic heart is overpowering; but a wise woman at the studio advised me to start living out-loud…exactly who I am on the inside. This is my truth. Scars and healing.
When I look back on this year, I have learned so much about myself and others. I can wholeheartedly say I have changed for the better. I have learned to accept others for who they are, and sometimes that means letting go. I have learned the power of surrounding yourself with positive people and influences. Within being authentically who you are, you will attract like-minded people. Words can’t describe the level of thankful I am for all the like-minded people in my life, living whole heartedly. Just trying to be better. Every. Single. Day. Not for rewards or accolades of others, but because that is what we are meant to do in life. To grow in grace and character. Thank you so much for your impact on my life.
I hope that in sharing this, others going through this process will understand their feelings are valid, you are not alone, and most importantly you will be OK. Find YOU again. Hold your head high. Pay no attention to what other’s think about you, you know who you are within, and who you want to be. Now go be that. Live wholeheartedly. There is beauty in the breakdown. 🙂
From my healing heart to yours,