I Wanted A Divorce, But I'm Still Grieving My Old Life

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A few weeks ago, I was in a really good place. My kids were with their father, I went for a long run, got a massage and did some shopping before I had a group of friends over for the evening. I was happy, content, and felt so damn peaceful. I didn’t want the feeling to leave me.

I finally felt like I’d turned a corner since my divorce two years ago. For the first time, I didn’t have that empty feeling when I woke up that morning and didn’t hear my daughter get in the shower. It wasn’t painful to look down the hallway and not see my son walking towards me, playing with his already messy hair, to give me a good morning hug.

Of course, mornings are always better when you kids are there and your home is filled with love and sounds like coffee brewing, running water, and the cling of a juice glass. But, on this morning, the silence that had been haunting me every morning my kids weren’t with me didn’t hurt my ears like it had been for what felt like a lifetime.

Emotional pain can make you feel like the days are dragging their damn feet on purpose. There have been times I’ve watched the clock, waiting for a decent time to turn off the lights and put myself to bed in hopes the weight I’ve been carrying around with me would lift.

It was good to feel like my cup was full for a change. I felt like my life was moving in the right direction, but more than anything, I was able to accept where I was at this very moment: a working, divorced mother of three who is building a new life, on her own.

That content feeling was fleeting though. It took a few days for the divorce ghosts to come back, but they came back — they always seem to find me again no matter how strong I feel, how well I am doing, or how well adjusted my kids seem to be.

I was so tired, I was sick to my stomach. And all I could think as I was crying my way to spin class was, I am so done. I am done being a divorced woman. I am done feeling this hollowness that won’t fucking leave no matter how many times I try and sweat it out, no matter how many hours I’ve spent talking about it. No matter how many podcasts I listen to, or books I try and shove down my throat. I am fucking done.

I realize this way of thinking isn’t rational. Nor does it make any sense because I am, in fact, a very divorced woman. I was ready to sign the papers and move on. It actually felt exciting to take off my ring. And I couldn’t wait to redecorate my house and sleep diagonal every night.

But still these feelings remain. The tiredness of being divorced is always followed by its friend, sadness. Those two are tight and refuse to go anywhere without each other. I felt sad about all the things I couldn’t be for my family to fix my marriage while my ex-husband and I were falling apart. Then I was sad about how I wasn’t the same woman I had been just a few days before when I felt like things were finally on the upswing.

Why beat ourselves up if we aren’t going to go all the way and finish the job, right?

Rubberball/Mike Kemp/Getty and Scary Mommy

The thing is, you can want a divorce and to start a new life but that doesn’t mean the emotional ride won’t impact you. When my ex-husband and I first separated, a divorced friend told him that going through a divorce is the closest thing to death you will ever experience. He stood in the kitchen and told me this and after locking eyes for a second, we both kind of laughed and talked about how free we felt, and there was no way in hell that would be us.

Maybe that’s why the pain of changing the family dynamic, waking up without my kids in my house, and trying to figure out how to fix the damn lawn mower feels so weighted — because somehow I thought that because I wanted this, we wanted this, it would taste like freedom and new beginnings and going after the life we really wanted.

That’s not the way the game is played. Divorce pulls you back, drags you down, and makes you miss moments that happened a decade ago, moments you didn’t think were that precious at the time but are now burned in your mind.

For now, all I can do is accept it all — the great days when I feel like I’m done doing the heavy lifting, and the bad days when all I want to do is climb in bed, wrap my covers around myself, and wait for it to pass.

It always does pass though, before coming back for a visit to kick you in the back of the knees and take you down a few notches. But I have to believe that maybe one of these days I’ll turn that corner for real, get some distance, and that feeling will stick around for more than a day or two.

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