I don’t believe the decision to divorce comes easily to most people and often, if you’re the person who initiated the divorce, there’s guilt. Those feelings of guilt and the second-guessing about if your marriage could have been saved can linger. For Michelle, seeing her ex in another relationship so quickly made those feelings worse, even though it was her who initiated the divorce. Here’s Michelle:
In my situation, if you’re the one who ultimately decides to end the marriage, it’s not easy when your ex starts dating someone else because you start to question yourself and start to question how much they really loved you and how could they move on so fast? And yet, in a way, it was really one of the best things that could have happened.
I’m really grateful for how it’s turned out and I’m proud of myself. I could be miserable and bitter and be stinky and all that stuff, but then I almost feel like it would give other people an opportunity to say, “Oh look, she blew it, she made a mistake and now she’s getting what she deserves.” That may be from my guilt but I don’t know if it’s pride or if it’s something that gives me strength, but I respond to that with, “No, I’m standing behind my decision.” It was my decision to let him go, and so I need to show up that way too.
I’ve dated a little bit and I just haven’t found anybody that I’ve really connected with, and I don’t want to settle. I get lonely sometimes or there’s days when I really wish I had someone to spend time with. I also ask why was it so easy for him and I haven’t been able to find anybody, it’s been over a year? I get down on that, but I think I’ve gotten a lot more clear about what I want in a relationship and what I’m not willing to compromise. I didn’t go through all this hell to repeat the same relationship or just settle for something. I didn’t go through it all to not wait for something really awesome to come along.
I think when I was married I was looking for him to give me something that really wasn’t his job to give me. There were certainly things he should have been giving me that he wasn’t, but on a deeper level, we’ve got to learn to take care of our own needs. It takes so much courage to end a marriage, it did for me anyway, so that helps you learn how to stand in your own power a little more.
For me, some of the real low points were the losses of the friendships. Everyone said to me, “Oh, you’ll find out who your friends are” and I knew it was true, but I honestly was still shocked.
I didn’t want any of my friends to feel like they had to choose between us and I never asked them yet some of them just did. I think because I was the one that made the decision, people felt more empathy for him and there were certain folks and groups that I didn’t surprise me, but there were a couple that really blew me away. That was really painful because my friendships were really all that were sustaining me in terms of emotional support because my marriage was so empty. When they went away, it was really painful.
They just disappeared and when I tried to talk to them about it, they refused to be honest with me or engage with me. So again, there’s more letting go I had to do. It was really hard, there was nothing I could do. It’s hard too because he hangs out with them a lot so there are opportunities where my kids are going to be hanging out with these people and they go on couples trips that we used to go on and it hurts. I actually grieved some of those friendship losses more than I grieved my marriage ending.
Like I said I was getting my emotional needs met more through some female friendships that I had more than him. But again, it’s like I needed to learn to meet my own needs. Lots of great learning. So far so good, it’s been a good experience, those are a few of the lows. Having support is so important, right? Having some kind of support whether it’s a coach or a counselor or good friends or whatever it is…your forum, people going to support each other is really important.
The Divorce Coach Says
For whatever reason, men often seem to move on to other relationships more quickly than women and those relationships are frequently serious and committed. I think when that happens it’s easy to second guess yourself and wonder what the new partner is seeing that you missed. It’s a relationship however and each relationship is unique: their dynamics would be very different than the dynamics you had with your ex and it’s wise to remember that.
Losing friendships is also a reality. I’ve lost a few and I could be being naive, but I think it’s more because of “couple culture” than taking sides. Couples tend to like to socialize with couples and if you’re single, then you may disappear from their social radar. If your ex has a new partner, that could be why he’s still on the radar. The best couple-friends I kept would invite both me and my ex to their event, and tell me they’d done so leaving the decision as to whether to attend up to each of us.
I love the strength behind Michelle in the self-learning about her values and what she needs in a relationship. I admire her even more for not compromising those values for the sake of more dates. My dating coach and I talked about that. She said if I doubted I could find someone with the values I was looking for, I was living proof that such a person existed so dating was about putting myself into situations where I would meet people who enjoyed similar activities. I also learned that it was more important to manage your expectations around dating, such as quantity and frequency than managing my values which people often do when they get frustrated with not finding a partner.
What’s been your experience? Did you feel guilty? Remorse? Did you lose any friendships that you really miss?
This is the last post in Michelle’s series and I’d like to thank her for bravely sharing her story! Michelle is a life coach specializing in eating disorders. Overcoming the struggle with bulimia was one of the unexpected side effects of divorce for Michelle. You can read more about her practice at her website and follow her Unlock Your Possibility blog. Follow her on twitter and Facebook.
Photo credit: theloushe