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

10 thoughts on “Is There Hope in Divorce?

  1. Megan A.

    I remember when I saw that you were picking up last year and moving back to your current community, and I instantly got that you needed to relocate your soul in order to step into this next phase of your life. The community you speak of here is a beautiful, creative, and extremely interconnected one…to the point of being overly enmeshed. I know I certainly felt both inspired and pigeonholed there.

    I also remember during the time we were in college there how a local woman I dearly loved got divorced. You words here were the same words she spoke to me, and my heart broke for her because at a time when she desperately needed to feel cocooned and protected she felt overexposed and raw. I’ve never been divorced but I imagine that’s a nearly universal feeling. But when it’s happening in a small community where disclosing your pain, be it verbally or nonverbally, is inescapable? Feeling on display like that 24/7 must be absolutely stifiling. You have clearly blossomed after your divorce in ways that have beautiful to watch, but for every bloom I’m sure there have been five times as many branches that never flowered.

    You always have such great topics here. Have you ever thought about doing a podcast or video interviews like the “Momversations” Heather Armstrong, Maggie Mason, Alice Bradley, Issa Mas

  2. Megan A.

    …(cont.) Issa Mas, etc.? You have such a gift for storytelling and an amazing stage presence, and I for one would love to hear your deeper thoughts on these topics in your own voice. xoxo

    1. heidihowes

      Thanks Megan! Great thoughts and as always I love your insights. I am definitely working up the courage to branch out and open up more. Your encouragement is super helpful! Love ya!

  3. Jennifer

    Heidi – I love what you wrote here. Thank you. I can totally feel going into that theatre with you and the sense of shame, loneliness. I, too, totally felt that red letter A for the longest time. Then my husband did something really cruddy and he wore it for awhile. The point being that it’s all so random and s hort lived.

    I am so glad you’re past the year mark and moving on with your head held high. I look forward to hearing your voice more in the Hopeful Divorce forum. Peace my fellow traveler!

    1. heidihowes

      Thanks Jennifer, I am really enjoying the field notes and I breathe a sigh of relief each time I get a new one…

  4. RiaSharon (@RiaSharon)

    I can relate so much to what you’ve described so eloquently here, Heidi… of people shrinking away because my situation and marital status was/is confronting. But like you, there was no way I could turn back.

    My city has more than 2000 people but everyone seems to know each other just the same and after a 10-year marriage, our social circles are still completely intertwined. Even after the 3-year mark, I’m finding comfort, support and encouragement in Hopeful Divorce. In some of their stories, I see how much progress I’ve made and in others, I realize where I still have room to grow. But what’s most encouraging is that I know that I can do it, because they have done it.

    I’m excited to be part of the forum, to share with others, to receive the gifts along the way from those who have gone before, and to mark the path for others who follow.

    Big hugs! See you inside, Heidi! And so filled with gratitude for you.

  5. heidihowes

    Thanks so much Ria! Glad I have your example to follow in so many ways too! And I so appreciate your willingness to dive into the deep sharing and create community around it–Love ya!


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