Divorce changes you. If you’re willing to do the work and not be defensive, divorce will teach you important life skills and lead you to contentment. When you’re in the early stages of separating or the thick of legal battles I know that can be hard to believe.
In this last post with my current guest, Helen shares what she’s learned from divorce and with what she still struggles. Here’s Helen:
I’ll never forget when I first asked for a divorce. I think three or four weeks later I went out and bought a vacuum cleaner and I didn’t have to debate about which one. I didn’t have to talk about it. I just bought a vacuum cleaner that I wanted and that was one of my most significant accomplishments. I can do what I want.
It felt completely empowering. I was home cooking dinner and I felt so free. It was a sense of freedom.
The biggest mistake I made throughout my marriage was never allowing people to know how bad things were. I never talked about it with anybody because I felt they were my problems. No one cares about my problems. So everybody thought things were great. Even my sister-in-law said, “You guys always look like the perfect couple. You seem like this happy couple”.
Then when I did need that support people didn’t believe me. Now I have learned people need to know about your problems. I mean not in a woe is me way, but they need to know, especially where I live, everybody loves to talk about how fabulous their lives are and the money they have and it’s a crock.
Where I live, it is the lifestyles of the rich and famous and everybody needs to try and keep up that façade. I came up here because of the schooling for my son and I was always looked at as an anomaly too because I was a working mom. These moms don’t work. It’s part of the whole façade in these wealthier areas of “we need to look like everything’s perfect, ” … the perfect husband, the perfect kids, drive the perfect car and all of that nonsense. And it is such nonsense.
Be honest and if you need help speak out. People don’t understand emotional abuse. If they don’t see scars they don’t understand it and they talk about, “Oh, a couple of fights” and they don’t get it. They don’t understand verbal abuse. It’s really hard to explain and people are afraid to talk about it because no one will believe you.
My most significant accomplishment? Surviving. I know this sounds strange, but he has not paid child support or medical insurance. We had a business together that he was instructed to pay 50 percent of the bills. He never has. He never paid my mother back. I just filed bankruptcy. My company is folding again, but I’m self-employed and I’m paying insurance and I’m paying everything else. The fact that I was able to rent a house for my kids, get them out of there and find a way to do it is my biggest accomplishment.
Filing bankruptcy was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever because that’s not me.
It was embarrassing. It was difficult. I was angry at myself for allowing myself to get into that position because of this guy.
Even more, I feel horrible about the position I put my mother in. I’m an only child and my father has Alzheimer’s and had a stroke. I feel horrible about having to depend so much on my mother for financial support. God love my mother. She said, “You would do the same thing for either one of your kids,” and she’s right. As a mother this is what you do.
I felt terrible about it, but I’m such a believer in faith and the path you’re supposed to go down. I am happily re-married to someone who treats me so well, treats my kids so well and that is just invaluable.
A month after I was remarried, my husband was diagnosed with MS so that’s another challenge. My mother has been once again, helping to support us.
It’s infuriating because here’s my ex sitting here. I’m not asking for alimony. I’m not asking for anything. I’m asking him to help support our children, especially our son with special needs and medical and he’s not doing a thing.
That’s what kills me. Yes, he can see his kids when he’s supposed to and that kills me.
The Divorce Coach Says
Not opening up about your marital problems is absolutely understandable. Aside from the cultural expectations on privacy about what happens between husband and wife, sharing your marital problems changes the dynamics of your friendships and it leaves you feeling vulnerable.
Keeping quiet comes from wanting to keep the status quo – wanting to avoid family members getting involved and wanting to still socialize with your friends as a couple. It also comes from wanting to avoid conflict, a fear that people will judge you and a fear that it could lead to the end of your relationship.
Yet, once you’ve learned to speak your truth, the thing that was so scary, the thing you thought was to be avoided at all costs, isn’t so scary and you realize that you are much stronger than you thought and you realize that you are much happier without the facade.
Are you hiding your truth? Of what are you afraid?
This is the last post in Helen’s series and I want to thank Helen for sharing her story. I know that reading about a nightmare divorce can be very intimidating but there are definitely lessons that can be learned. Remember, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
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