The 7 Effing Stages Of Divorce

by Marnie Brodersen
Originally Published: 
stages of divorce
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It’s just that divorce, right? …Fuck. Divorce sucks. But the whole process that led to this point was probably worse.

1. Fuck This

You can’t be going through a divorce without this stage. If things were hunky-dory, you’d be lying on the couch, binging on Netflix with your head in the lap of your lover as he mindlessly strokes your hair. Aw yeah, time for Netflix and chill.

But there is no Netflix (okay, occasionally), and there is no chill. Sometimes it’s a big bomb (infidelity, gambling, etc.) and other times, like with my situation, it’s just a general nagging in the back of your head that something ain’t right. It quiets down at points and gets really loud at others, but it’s always there. And of course, it’s impossible not to compare your marriage to others, especially in this day and age of Facebook and its accompanying declarations of lurrrrve. I don’t know that I’d really want or need that, per se, but I just know that I’m missing something — and I think it’s called happiness.

2. Fuck That

I can’t speak for others, but I’m guessing a lot of people go through this stage. This is when you take a look at your divorced friends, and yeah, there’s something appealing about the idea of starting a new relationship. But for the most part, that shit looks sucky — really, really sucky. Whether it’s the thought of sharing holidays, birthdays, or just the generally depressing nature of an empty house when the kids aren’t there, it sends shivers up your spine. And you think, Fuck that.

3. Fuck This

Eventually, though, you get back to fuck this because, well, again, something ain’t right — again, still, aways, ever. You don’t know when it started, but in my case, there were hints of it scattered all along our path even leading up to marriage. We chose to ignore them because we were old, and I wanted kids, and I hate to call it “settling” because he’s a great man and I’m a pretty decent chick, but there were definitely signs.

As in, the conversation our deacon had with us at our Pre-Cana meeting where we realized that we saw pretty much every single aspect of life in a different way. So there was that. A glaring “Do Not Pass Go” sign that we blew past with abandon. And let me just be clear — there have been good parts of our marriage — great, even. Hence the incessant cycling between the “Fuck This” and “Fuck That” stages. This is our third (and dare I say hopefully final) round of mediation. We’re keeping mediators in business at this point, which makes me feel good because, you know, you worry about how they’re going to put food on the table. Eventually, you reach a point where you say, “Enough is enough,” and even though you know the trail you’re about to travel is lined with flaming shit, you’re willing to put your feet to the fire.

4. Fuck Me

I’m not sure how many people can relate to this stage, as it’s very personal to me. You see, I’ve always been, how do I put this — a genuine weirdo. I march to the beat of my own drummer, and I’m pretty sure that drummer is on some pretty heavy meds. I often work out in my underwear. I catch lizards in my backyard even when my boys aren’t home. I feed the crows on my fence. This is actually the fun-weird part of me, if there is such a thing.

But I also have a lot of weird issues, as in depression that can crush me to the bone. I also have free-floating anxiety (Look at me, I’m floating!) only I’m not floating but rather constantly weighed down by the lead balloons of my never-peaceful innards. I’m super-duper socially awkward. I feel guilty, like, all the damn time. Sometimes I perhaps deserve it, and other times, I’m convinced that I caused an earthquake on the other side of the world with my thoughts alone. I feel things harder than the average person and have been known to cry at horribly sad stories I find on the internet while sitting at my desk for far too long. I get terrible insomnia, and my favorite thing to do when I get this is to torture myself with more horrible stories. I once read old blog posts from a blogger who had recently passed away just to find out what she was like in real life. Like I said, weird.

5. Fuck All Y’All

Because of our constant turmoil and inability to move on from each other and the way we keep falling back into the same thing over and over again, we’ve become kind of known as “the weirdo couple who has no idea what they’re doing” among our friends. Of course, they don’t say this, but they surely think it and wouldn’t be completely wrong for doing so. But now that we’ve pretty much put the final nail in the coffin, some people have taken sides despite no line being drawn in the sand. I honestly never expected this! If the separation was super contentious, I might have seen it coming, but it’s not that fiery when it comes down to it. Maybe it’s because I’m the one pushing for this, but I’ve been shut out by some close friends and I’m shocked.

Then there are the people who need you to help them through this because they just don’t understand. This is particularly true in our case, because even in the midst of our many separations, we’ve lived together and even hung out together, and this confuses the hell out of people. The thing is, we still enjoy each other’s company and that’s hard for people to grasp. And yes, of course it makes me doubt this decision, but there’s more to marriage than thinking the other person is pretty cool to hang with. You need to see eye to eye on at least most things. There needs to be love, and even if this love wanes at times, it always has to be there — at least looming in the background. We don’t have that, so when the day-to-day stresses bear down on us, we don’t have that to cling to. And we collapse.

6. Fuck Fear

I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life. From spending a gazillion dollars on a graduate degree that I never used to choosing terrible jobs and beyond, I’ve decided that I’m either the most unlucky person in the world, or I have no ability to choose the right thing. The worst part about this is that you eventually become paralyzed by fear. You start to believe you have no ability whatsoever to go with your gut. Every single decision you make causes utter agony and endless stress. Red or white? Mustard or ketchup? Spin class or yoga? As you can imagine, if I struggle with these mundane decisions, the idea of breaking up a family weighs on me like an iron curtain.

7. Fuck Me

No, not like the earlier “Fuck Me” stage. I have to hope that, eventually, I’ll get to a point where I say, “Fuck me” as in “Well, I’ll be, I’m actually happy! I did it, and I’m happy. I made it. I chose a hard thing, and I’m making it work.” I hope for so much happiness for him too, and I mean that with all my heart and soul.

Yesterday, I was making pasta salad in the kitchen, listening to the David Gray station on Pandora. The kids and the soon-to-be-ex were gone. A cool breeze was coming through the kitchen on a hot day. I began to sing — loudly — and dance to the music. And I felt a tingle of happiness. Just a tingle, but it was there. Under it all, I have the tiniest bit of hope.

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