Category Archives: Divorce

In the Aftermath of Divorce, an Unexpected Sisterhood

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1bcQMCZ5gU]

It was a slow unraveling while inside the tapestry but in reality it was rapid, just a few short months.  Once he moved out I realized I couldn’ t keep up with the chores involved in a wood-heated 5-bedroom farmhouse and maintain my full time job, mothering, and my sanity.  Not to mention the bills would be too much for me to handle now while paying child support to him.

Even though I knew it to be inevitable, it was hard to imagine downsizing.  We had dreamed of buying this gorgeous home on  20 acres, even signed a contract.  I loved the quiet of the country and the space.  We had picked up a new puppy just a week before I asked for a divorce.  I loved running each day on the back roads and watching the kids play for hours in the yard on the trampoline, skidding up and down the long country driveway.  Friends came to play and the children adored their home too.  It was idyllic.  It was part of a larger dream that had crumbled.

Eventually I realized that liberation would rise like a bird in the wake of letting go, and so downsize I did.

I moved with the kids into a small 2-bedroom ranch duplex one block from where I worked.  We were 4 blocks from the elementary school and one block from the daycare they attended afterschool.  No more stoking the woodstove at 5 am and 10 pm to stay warm and survive in the frigid Wisconsin winter, no more hauling kindling from the yard and firewood from the deck in my robe and gloves.  All I had to do was push the button on the thermostat and it was warm.  It made sense.  I could actually afford it, and the lifestyle would be much easier.  Here the kids shared a room and our furniture was sparse, and I slept on a single bed for the first time since college.

On the other side of the house was an aquaintance, a single mom whom I had met months before through work and had coffee with a couple of times while the kids and dogs played.  She was almost ten years younger yet had been raising her daughter on her own for five years already without much support to speak of.  She had fled the city after an abusive relationship, lost a job then found another, and hers was one of the most stressful jobs one could possibly have as a mother, in child protective services.  I admired her strength and tenacity, her faith in herself and her ability to keep going under more stress than I had ever known.  She had already learned how to reach out and ask for help, even from people she hardly knew like myself–it meant survival.  The night I kept her daughter after school last minute when she transported a child to detention far away I was amazed she asked and I was glad to help.  I didn’t know then just how much she would eventually help me, and the many ways her friendship buoyed me in that ocean of uncertainty for months to come.

Within a short time after I moved in we were cooking meals together, having wine on our shared back patio late nights after the kids went to sleep, and I found she had a shoulder I could cry on.  The friendship we formed took the sting out of the loneliness of raising my kids on my own, and if I needed to run to the store or work late, I knew I could count on her.  We laughed until tears streamed down our faces and watched bad reality T.V. together.  We connected in a way I had never experienced before, and within the four short months we lived next to each other I swear she saved me.

Soon she would be married for the first time and so happy.  I watched her realize a dream she had had for so many years and find a man who would erase the bad memories and disappointments of her past relationships, a man whom she could finally trust.  When my kids and I moved away to Ohio we both cried, and I realized for the first time that what we had given each other was a community amongst ourselves when we needed it most .

Now she has a new baby and we talk less on the phone, I know she is enjoying her sleepless nights and her beautiful new family.  But that’s okay with me.  We got through to the other side by holding hands and laughing, emerged anew as sisters who helped each other shine.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGJuMBdaqIw]

Is There Hope in Divorce?

hopeful divorce: field notes from a friend

As with my journey through Postpartum Depression, my journey through divorce has been hard to talk about, and even harder to contextualize for my friends whose marriages go on while mine ended.  Bring into the equation the juggling of self-care, work, household duties, and 2 children now being managed on my own, there is little if any time to talk about it even if I wanted to.

I remember distinctly the day after the decision had been made.  I walked out into my small town community of about 2000 folks,most of whom knew about my divorce the second I did (as things go in small towns, word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing strategy).  There was a party at the local theater and a couple hundred of our mutual friends and acquaintances were there.  This was the first time I realized that marriage was something that held all of us couples together in a tenuous circle, that the dissolving state of my marriage was somehow,if only very subconsciously, threatening to those who were still maintaining theirs.  I tried to smile and engage and assure my friends that this was the best thing for all of us, because in these awkward social moments we must keep it together.  I spotted a woman who had been a single mother all these years among us very cliqueish couples, and I felt the weight of single motherhood drop like an anchor to the pit of my stomach.  I no longer belonged to the neat and pretty togetherness of marriage and family.  I was alone, de-husbanded, de-familied.  Suddenly the reality of it smacked me in the face and I felt utterly alone.

But at this point I was sure there was no going back,  and so I pushed forward reminding myself that fitting in was not going to bring me peace or happiness or anything.  I held my head high in public, though the inevitable sides were drawn and yes, there were those who shunned me.  I was demonized, gossiped about, judged and questioned.  I felt like I wore a scarlet letter everywhere I went.  Especially when messy decisions were made and life went on.

Even in the face of all the hardship that came with choosing the divorce, I continued to remind myself that better things were surely to come for all of us, and that divorce could be a way to truly finding those things we most needed but weren’t able to find within the marriage we had created.  I made my own hope, in my heart, even when faced with excruciating decisions and questions involving the children I love so dearly.

It has been a little over a year since the beginning of my divorce process, and I can say a lot of it was very lonely.  But I have made it and I continue to make it.  I wish I had heard of a Hopeful Divorce then, but it is a brand new course from Hopeful World Publishing, and even though I am already past my first year, every field note I receive in my inbox helps me move forward, stop looking back, and breathe more easily knowing there are friends out there who understand.

So yes, there is hope in divorce.  Lots of hope.  And we are gonna make it okay after all.

hopeful divorce: field notes from a friend

The Burning Question: What Would you like to Stop Doing?

Stop already.  Stop thinking you are less than,

stop saying your dreams don’t matter, your desire

will wait.  Stop burying your muse under the mattress.

Stop believing that you are damaged, you can carry

the weight and therefore you should though you long

to be light, to be en-lightened, to walk in sunlight.

Stop making yourself small so others feel okay

in their smallness.  Climb the sycamore tree

in the ravine, take the kids to India, allow yourself

to make love to whomever, whenever, wherever.  Stop listening

to the fears that disquise themselves as wisdom.

Stop keeping your silence when you know what you want

from the world.  If this person won’t listen

stop giving away your time and speak up

until you find the ones who hear you, who

want you to say more.  Stop thinking

that being a mother means you can’t.

Stop limiting, stop regretting, stop wishing.

Stop thinking you are not enough.  Stop already.

You are everything you’ve ever dreamed of.