I have recently reconnected with some girls I used to go to school with. Our 20 year reunion is this year and a group of us made contact via email and got together to start planning the event. I haven’t seen any of these people in 20 years and it was a bit weird, to say the least.
Anyway, I now stay in touch with one of them via email and through Facebook. She is going through a rather bad relationship breakup and is having a bit of a rough time dealing with the pain. I empathise so much with her but I’m no expert in matters of the heart, I can only offer support and encouragement through relaying my own experiences of grieving for the loss of a relationship. In my case, it was the loss of a 15 year relationship, 13 of which were spent being married to each other.
In one of my emails I told her that everything happens for a reason, that things will unfold exactly when and how they are supposed to. She then asked me at what point in my grieving process did I learn this. When exactly in the long path of healing did I realize this? So it got me thinking …
I guess after many months of shock, denial and total disbelief that my husband could dump me for another woman and repeatedly asking myself (and anyone else who would listen) why and how this could happen, I was at the end of myself. I couldn’t function anymore, I couldn’t stand being in so much pain, I couldn’t see past the black void that my life had become, I couldn’t deal with feeling so rejected and I saw no way out of my raging sadness. I had sunk into a dark depression and I thought my life was over. I kept hoping that it was all some terrible mistake or a bad dream that I would wake up from.
In talking to friends and family and therapists about how I was feeling, a couple of people told me “everything happens for a reason.” I cynically laughed them off. What the hell did they know? They hadn’t just had their whole world ripped apart, they had no idea what I was feeling and they had no right to be so blasé about my situation!
Then he told me he was filing for divorce and at that point I realized that it wasn’t a nightmare that I could wake up from, there was no mistake – our marriage really was over. He loved someone else, not me. It dawned on me that I had better learn to accept everything or I was going to go mental. That was a tough time. It was so much easier to let anger, sorrow and self-pity run my life so that I didn’t have to face the scary truth that I was going to be divorced and alone and that my children were going to lose their father. I wrestled with this for so long, trying to find something to help me learn to accept the inevitable and feel ok with it.
I started thinking about what people had been saying to me, that everything happens for a reason and this became an idea that I could hold on to and believe in on my long journey to acceptance. I never thought of it as a “silver lining” thing – that would not have resonated with me. Rather, I used it as a tool to reflect back on my life and look at how things had unfolded – the choices I had made, events that had happened and people that had had an impact on my life. I was amazed at how perfectly everything fit together!
This made me realize that even though I would like to control every aspect of my life, there were a lot of things that I had no control over and that I could actually let them go, knowing that the pieces would all fall into place somehow. It restored some trust in living for me; it allowed me to start feeling ok, even though something bad was happening. I didn’t know all the reasons behind it, but that was fine. I still don’t know all the reasons, and that’s also fine, but here’s what I do know:
- Even though I was married for 13 years, I wasn’t happy for quite a bit of that time. Actually, I was completely miserable and it took getting divorce to realize just how trapped in that misery I was. I had lost myself in that relationship – my whole identity was about being his wife, nothing else.
- People change – neither of us were the same people we married all those years ago – and sadly, people can grow apart. Our priorities changed over the years and we were in constant disagreement over things. We just never saw eye to eye on important issues anymore. We couldn’t communicate properly and there was always tension in the house. The children are much better off not living in that angry, cold environment.
- You cannot force someone to love you. I was distraught about being rejected for another woman and I tried, unsuccessfully, to win him back in the early stages after finding out. My ego was so bruised and my self esteem was in tatters. It was not easy to face the fact that I relied on him to feel good about myself. That was so wrong. I had to get my head around the fact that I could be strong and confident and happy, all by myself.
- There is life after a painful divorce. I have been given the opportunity to find myself again and establish my own identity and I now have the freedom to make my own choices. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all great yet. I still have days when I slump into self-pity, when I feel robbed of my dreams and his promises. But it really helps me to think that everything is unfolding as and when it should, that there are lessons to learn and opportunities to change things for the better if I am willing to open my eyes and my heart.
It’s slowly getting better, I think. I realize that have a lot to be grateful for in my life – a roof over my head, beautiful children, a decent paying job, loving parents, caring friends and a new man in my life =)
Onwards and upwards …