Surviving Divorce: How I Managed in the Months Afterward
Living in the ‘After’ of Divorce
At the time, I thought my two children and I would pretty much be over it by Christmas 2011. Ahem. Didn’t exactly work out that way.
Surviving divorce is hard, no matter how you slice it.
Divorce is also something from which most of us do eventually partially recover, even though it may take longer than anticipated. Even five years later, the pain of our broken family lingers in small but insidious ways – particularly around the holidays.
Although the divorce settlement in our case was fair (which just means that neither of us walked away happy), I did leave with almost $10,000 in credit card debt and full responsibility for the mortgage on our family home.
With no job to speak of — since we had chosen to focus on my husband’s career while I stayed home and home-educated our children — I had slim prospects.
New Types of Prioritizing, Post Divorce
You can imagine the paltry New Year’s resolutions on my list. I was unconcerned with my weight – or any of the other resolutions I had entertained over the years. There were much more urgent things on my list, like:
- Keeping the lights on.
- Keeping food in the fridge.
- Paying off all my debt.
- Getting out of bed at some point every single day.
With help and encouragement from my faith, friends, and family, I achieved my resolutions for 2011 — for the first time ever. We had food and electricity, and I did get out of bed every day. I won’t say that it always happened before noon, but it did happen!
Baby Steps in the Right Direction
I also managed to pay off all my credit card debt through frugal living and by selling off a couple of unprofitable investment products that I was granted in the settlement.
We have come so far since 2011 – a year filled with grief, shame, a terrible fatigue I still can’t describe, and such a profound sense of failure.
But each year — even with the requisite ups and downs — is better as we have learned to navigate this new normal that is now our life.
A dear friend once quoted The Good Wife. It goes something like, “Does it get easier? No. But you do get better at it.” In these last six years, I have found that to be true. I get better at surviving divorce every single day.
Well, 2017 is here. I’m looking forward to the coming year and all of its possibilities of a long-awaited new beginning.
We often underestimate the impact of trauma. In many ways, it’s just like paying off debt. Both can seem insurmountable, but eventually we make it. Give yourself the time you need and then embrace your new normal and get on with your life!