I’m almost 20 years down the road from a difficult divorce – as if there is any other kind. Divorce is not on anyone’s bucket list. So when you have to face that divorce is your new reality, there is no time to prepare or figure out how to navigate this horrible journey.
Overwhelming emotions take over, and the brain fog from the devastating brokenness leaves you unable to think clearly – yet you are making life-changing decisions for not only your own life, but your children’s lives, too.
ReRoute was born from how lost I felt through the divorce process, realizing how desperately I needed guidance to help me avoid some of the pitfalls.
Here are seven things I wish I would have known:
- The divorce process will take longer than you anticipate, especially if children are involved. The state-required waiting period does not equal how long it will take for your divorce to be final. Take note: Patience will be required no matter how wonderful or aggressive your attorney is.
- You are not in control – as if you ever were. And you will not like all of the decisions that are made. This is probably one of the most difficult things to accept. You now have to play by the rules of the court. Even if you and your spouse can be civil to each other through this process, it is tough watching your life be split into his and hers. You will feel helpless as you watch your life spinning out of control.
- Emotions will escalate. Regardless of your normal temperament, it is rare not to have some intense emotional moments. More than likely you will experience frustration, anger, betrayal, brokenness, more anger, exasperation, grief and more frustration. The sense of not having control of your life, your kids and your stuff (see No. 2) absolutely will create a level of emotions you never expected.
- Children have big ears and tender hearts. I know now that being behind closed doors in my bedroom or walking outside did not prevent my children from overhearing conversations with attorneys, close family or friends when I was discussing the divorce. Huge regret for me. No matter what is “truth” during your divorce, the kids don’t need to hear. Bite your lip until it bleeds, go for a walk and scream, take a drive (if you can leave your children alone for a while). But do everything you can to protect your children from the ugly emotions surrounding the divorce.
- Divorce does not end your relationship with your spouse if children are involved – it just changes it. You are forever connected because of the kids. Be prepared that even after the divorce is final, if children are involved, issues will arise that cause you to revisit Nos. 2 and 3.
- You will not do this perfectly. You will have regrets. In life, none of us makes the best choice 100 percent of the time – and I assure you that no matter how hard you try, you will still look back and see things you’ll wish you’d handled differently. Ask for forgiveness. Forgive yourself when you mess up. And lavishly give grace to yourself and others.
- This too shall pass. Sometimes it can feel like it will NEVER be over. But this is only a detour. Some detours take you a long way from the path you were on, but eventually you will get back on track. You will find a new normal. You will laugh again. You will not forget what happened, but it will no longer cause you to break down in a puddle of tears. The anger will subside. Your kids will grow up, and you no longer will have to figure out schedules in two houses. Really – this too shall pass! Actually, I would suggest putting, “This too shall pass,” on a sticky note on your bathroom mirror. You will need the reminder often as you walk through the process.
- Yes – I can count but I decided to add a bonus that piggybacks on No. 7: BREATHE! Divorce is hard. You are tired. You are overwhelmed. You don’t know if you can keep going. So stop – seriously, do this right now – and breathe! Take a long, deep breath and know tomorrow will come. (Cue music for “I Will Survive!”) You will get through this!