10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Divorce

10 things i wish i knew
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Isn’t it true that we have to go through something to really understand it? We can plan and have opinions about something but until it happens to us we don’t grasp the full concept. Divorce is no different. I guess it’s a little like death of a loved one. Again, it’s something we have to go through, get to the other side before we understand it.

So, with that reality in mind, I was thinking that there were a few things I wish I had known before I began my divorce (or while I was going through it). Even though if someone told me I may not have listened πŸ™‚ I hope these help you bearing in mind that every divorce is different. Here goes;

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Divorce

This will end one day. It’s a process and not a state of being.

Time seemed to stand still when I was facing the hardest challenges of my divorce. I remember thinking to myself ‘I wonder what I’ll be doing 5 years from now’ and wishing I could push a fast forward button. In retrospect, I’m glad I couldn’t push the FF button because I wouldn’t have learned as much nor would I be who I am today.

Friends will disappear, so be your own best friend.

This was really hard. There were a handful of women who were my friends, not my husband’s and not ours. Mine. They were the ones I met on my own and maintained like a well tended garden. I tried not to let the flowers go too dry or over water. I tried to keep the weeds out and turn the soil. My divorce distracted me though and some of the perennials didn’t return.

For example, one friend was a happily married and at the start of my divorce was quite supportive. Her son went to school with my daughter since Kindergarten. As time went on, she made a decision to end the friendship. You know how it’s done. Subtly. The phone calls don’t get returned. You get the hint eventually.

Some friends simply can’t understand the journey of divorce. They may fear it’s contagious even. We are rejected for no other reason than we are a single woman in a world of ‘happily marrieds’. Learning to rely on myself was a really good lesson in the end. Realizing that the losses were not personal and that it was better to accept than grieve, helped me move on.

Your Kids will get angry. At you. That’s normal.

I wasn’t ready for the changes I would see in my children. Some of those changes were due to adolescence and some were undoubtedly due to the stress of divorce. Our divorce had a huge impact on the children. As much as I tried all the communication techniques and open conversation, they still got angry. That’s okay. Best thing we can do for our children is tell them it’s okay to be angry, sad or happy. Let go of our expectation of their emotions and just let them express it freely!

Not everyone will ‘get it’.

You won’t find support where you expect it. That said, you will find support when and where you least expect it. So, don’t write off anyone or thing as being a waste of time. Find resources and positive people where ever you can.

Learn to recognize what you can change (and accept what you cannot).

I know this sounds obvious and it probably is if you’re a recovered alcoholic or a child of one. Still, it takes practice and intuition to accomplish this seemingly simple life strategy. Knowing the difference between what you can take control of and what you may need to let go of in your divorce will provide a world of comfort.

When in doubt ask yourself “Will this matter five years from now?”

If the answer is yes, then give it some well deserved consideration and careful thought before reacting or taking action. If the answer is no, then know when to accept it rather than fight it and make a big deal about it. You can substitute five years for one year. Sometimes a one year gauge makes more sense.

Your divorce won’t turn out the way you imagined.

Exactly. The divorce image is rarely the outcome. First, let go of the ideal that you’ll be friends with your ex. Stop watching Reba unless you’re well aware that it is a fantasy. During a divorce, couples fight—they don’t care about each other and that’s why one left or maybe they both left. After the divorce is all over it might be a different story but for the love of all the peaches in summer, don’t expect your ex to be your friend. Expect the unexpected in general. In other words, if you’re expecting a thunder storm, be prepared for a tornado.

Your income will decrease(for a while).

It’s rare that anyone going through a divorce sees their income increase. So, might as well get ready to learn to budget, take care of finances, and know where you can cut back on expenses. You’ll be empowered by taking control of your finances. It’s one of the valuable lessons of divorce.

Therapy may not help.

Talking about our divorce issues with a therapist is not a guarantee to resolve those issues. Not to mention the expense (see above). You’ll have to be more careful about where your money is going so therapy might not be in the financial cards. Quite frankly, therapy isn’t for everyone.

In my experience divorce problems are of the practical sort that require immediate action, not thinking too much about our past. Instead, I recommend writing in a journal. Writing of any kind can help ease the emotions of the divorce while freeing up your budget for other expenses.

It’s going to hurt like hell (for a while).

It’s going to really hurt but guess what? It will get better. The pain will subside and some really great things are waiting for you!

Leave me a comment, I LOVE’ em!

Like what you’re reading? You’ll love the book:

the great escape; a girl's guide to leaving a marriage

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34 Replies to “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Divorce”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Those are very useful tips especially for those who are young and immature…often divorce occurs at such a stage of life when one is not aware of all this. You are awesome Lisa…how bravely you have absorbed all the pain, the heartbreaking situations like the change in the behavior of children…I guess they too get stressed as it is very hard for children to accept and understand why this transition has been forced on them.

    I am glad you have reached a stage where life is brighter and your positivity is helping all those in the throes of divorce. Stay blessed dear friend and be happy. Love and hugs πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Balroop, I guess we’re all immature when we start divorce if we haven’t been through it before πŸ˜€ Thank you for your encourgement. Life is brighter and it always is for everyone going through this. I hope you’re doing well with your move. Getting settled and all. Hugs and love to you! xo

  2. The decrease in finances has really not been fun, to say the least. I willingly gave up my teaching job so I could work on my novel (which now sits in a drawer). All the while in the back of my mind was the thought that if something horrible happened, I would be left in a tight spot. Something horrible did happen, but much good came of it because it lit a fire under my butt to take the full-time dive into freelancing. In my case, therapy has really helped, but it’s because of needing to learn about the behavior of addicts and how his actions reflect little of me. I was going to stop the sessions when my insurance ran out, but she’s a great woman and sees me as her pro bono case. Probably because of how weird the situation was, but I’m thankful everyday for her help in working through the situation,

    1. Hi Jeri, No, decrease in income is a real adjustment (not a fun one). It sounds like really bad timing when this happened to you and that really SUCKS. As you say though, it lit a fire under your butt and me too. I had to really take a hard look at my spending and habits. I’m soooo very happy for you that you found the right therapist and it’s helped you. That’s so awesome and encouraging. BTW, you’re an excellent editor so you’ll find success in it, definitely! One of the great things about divorce, although we don’t see it at the time, is the new opportunities and chances we must take. They lead us to growth and that good stuff.

  3. Love this list!! Everything applies. πŸ™‚ I will say therapy helped me leave my abusive relationship and continues to help me cope with coparenting (or should I say parallel parent) with someone who continues to manipulate and attempt to gain control. Grr. But I think what’s important is finding the RIGHT therapist…training in psychology can be specialized, and if going through a trauma or dealing with abuse, It’s important to find the right fit…I.e. You wouldn’t go to the foot doctor with an ear problem, right… ? But I also definitely agree that therapy isn’t for everyone..and won’t be helpful if there isn’t the right fit, or if a person isn’t ready or willing to go…then it’s a total waste of time and $$ and effort… <3.
    Lastly–I LOVE the part about how knowing the crazy feelings won't last. I remember being IN it and thinking I was literally going to expire; just couldn't take the stress, pain, heartache. But it IS temporary, even if the temporary lasts for a while. The light will come! Hugs to you, Lisa, for writing this illuminating and helpful post! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Jane, thanks for bringing up that very important distinction about therapy. “I.e. You wouldn’t go to the foot doctor with an ear problem, right… ?” So right! And I’m so glad you found the right therapist! I did find a good one a friend recommended. He gave me exercises to do when I was having my dark thoughts. Breathing and such. It really helped. I liked the practical way he approached it all. Yes, the stress and pain are overwhelming, especially in your circumstance! Hugs to you Jane! xoxo

  4. I definitely need to share this wisdom with friends. I have ones a year in, still getting their minds blown by the pain and suffering. On the other hand, they are also blown away by new freedoms and self-discovery.

    1. Hi Tamara, thank you so much for sharing this πŸ™‚ Ya know, you’ve captured the dichotomy of divorce so well. The pain and hurt along with the freedom and self discovery, all at once. It’s a roller coaster but exciting too.

  5. WOW….yesterday would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. My husband packed up and left the day after I took the youngest of our 5 kids to college and dropped the bombshell of by the way I filed divorce 2 months ago. I wish I had seen this months ago – although it may not have sunk in. TODAY after what I thought would be the hardest day and night of my life – it made me pull my shoulders back and sit a little straighter!!! Thank you!!!!

    1. Hi Pamela, OM Gosh, the anniversaries can be difficult. 25 years! Your ex really blind sided you. I’m so glad you’re feeling stronger after reading this πŸ™‚ It’s why I write, so your comment is really special. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Thank you. This made me feel GREAT. I want to be as strong as you I am struggling and learning every day!

  6. Hi Lisa,

    Such a wonderful, heartfelt post indeed πŸ™‚

    One can make out all that you’ve been through, which certainly isn’t easy, and then write about it as that is the best way to help others who may be going through the same phase. If we knew how to handle the situation when we go through divorce, things would be so different, isn’t it?

    However, what one goes through at that moment, only the person going through it knows alone. You are right, the kid’s are the ones who go through the most and we need to understand their emotions that time. Funds too is an issue, and they don’t get alright for all, not in our country at least, unless the woman is educated enough to stand on her own feet. But yes, time is a huge healer, and look at how far you have come Lisa, Bravo indeed πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing a part of your journey with us. Have a nice, rest of the week πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Harleena! Time does heal and works things out. It’s all temporary, not forever that’s the good news. Yes, the kids are the priority in it all—we must keep focused on them in spite of all the other ‘stuff’ πŸ™‚

  7. I think one of the eye-openers for me was that even though I wanted (NEEDED) the divorce, I was still surprised at how heart-wrenchingly sad I was. It was what had to happen, but oh my God…when I was alone physically in my house and the waves came over me, I remember feeling soooo sad from bottom of my toes to the top of my head. Falling into a heap of tears, crying and making my gutteral noises, was scary. But I knew it was a process. I knew I had to let myself feel this and I knew that it wouldn’t last.

    It’s funny though, some of the ‘friends’ who did stay with me through it seemed to want to get the gossip-y stuff on how I was doing, how he was doing, how everyone was doing and WHAT everyone was doing. I decided myself that I didn’t want to keep those acquaintances. They just reinforced feeling sad and mad and awful about myself.

    I’m in such a happy place now, but I do admit that 2 years later, sometimes I can have a trigger that sets me back for a minute…hearing someone speak to someone else like my ex would speak to me, that knot in my stomach that would tell me he was doing his crazy-making behaviours. Sometimes I feel the crazy-making try to creep back in. But after 20 years together, I guess I still need to give myself time to shut that voice up in my head once and for all. And I am…one day at a time.

    1. Hi Michelle, I can relate to all of what you said here. It certainly isn’t any easier for the person who wants the divorce. The pain is very deep and letting it out is all part of the process (I think we’re taught to hold in so much that it feels foreign to sob). I had a few ‘friends’ who would call me up, ask a bunch of questions then when I would ask if they wanted to get together, they weren’t available. I let those go because it was definitely a gossip trolling mission.

      I’m so happy for you that you’re in a healthy place now. It can take years to let that stuff go! Thanks for sharing your experiences here, Michelle. Hugs!

  8. Hi Lisa,

    I went through all you have listed when I went through my divorce. The worst was the financial situation. I was left in the dust with a three year old, couldn’t keep up the mortgage and other bills and just gave the house back to him.
    I can still look back and think of these things and get that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was so difficult and I was so unprepared, even though I initiated it.
    It was so surprising to me how friends just disappeared. You are on the phone almost every day with someone close and then not a word….
    This is great for those who will embark a divorce. It’s not easy.
    But over the years, we did reconcile and became friends. So much so that we realized we were a better fit as friends than in a marriage. Unfortunately, he recently passed away. I couldn’t believe my reaction. I am still all broken up about it. Just say’n
    -Donna

    1. Hi Donna, reading your comment make me want to cry a little. Picturing you and your son going without and having to give up your home…that’s tough! It’s amazing and wonderful that you and your ex were able to reconcile years later. AS I mentioned in this post, friendship is near impossible during the divorce but what happens after? That’s when many divorced couples seem to find forgiveness. You lost a friend. πŸ™

  9. Hi Lisa,

    This advice will be very helpful for anyone going through a divorce because I’m sure most, if not all of these situations are happening.

    My one concern was how it affected my kids. I had two kids with my ex but they were little. It didn’t affect my daughter because she was only three months but my son did when he got older by making wrong decisions. I can’t help but think I played a part in that. We finally talked about it and he told me he didn’t blame me and that’s what gave me closure.

    Great post Lisa! I hope you’re having a great week.

    Cori

    1. Hi Cori, I don’t think we ever stop worrying about our kids no matter their age. It’s true the younger they are the easier it is for them to adapt. It’s awesome you were able to have that honest conversation with your son and he could reassure you!

  10. I love your heart and your passion… not only for getting the words down and for exploring so many different angles of a painful period but because of the advice and solace you are offering many who are crossing into unfamiliar territory. It’s also oddly reassuring to know that you have gleaned so many important life lessons that you are willing to share πŸ™‚

    “They may fear it’s contagious even. We are rejected for no other reason than we are a single woman in a world of ‘happily marrieds.'” I experienced this once, and it’s so unbelievably painful to feel like a social pariah whose relationship status is suddenly something to be avoided. But you’re right–we have to learn to lean on ourselves and trust our instincts… and also it’s a really great way of weeding out the “meh” friends anyway πŸ™‚

    XOXO

    1. Hi Charlotte, thank you so much! The lessons are many πŸ˜› Isn’t that weird about feeling like a Pariah? Some people think you’re going to try to steal their husband as soon as you’re divorced…depends how handsome they are—I KID. Ya, you sure find out who the true blue people in your life are!

  11. Lisa,

    You’re such an inspiration to everyone around you. These are awesome things to know before, during, and after. As someone who has not been divorced, it still is an eye-opener in the event.

    Thank you for sharing!

    TGIF!

    Bren

  12. Love this list Lisa. Divorce was like a blender. I didn’t enjoy being chopped up and sliced by heartbreak but being a smoothie is healthy and better for the soul.

    My greatest lesson from divorce was learning to accept and embrace change.

    1. Hi Vishnu, what a great analogy. Being chopped in a blender and then made into a smoothie, made me smile. Smoothies are very healthy. Accepting change is key. Thanks for sharing your lesson, Vishnu. It’s valuable to everyone to hear each other’s lessons πŸ˜€

  13. Glad to know it’ll end one day Lisa. I know it but I need to read it again and again. It takes so long. I wish I can buy a magical wand and make it all change in one go.
    I never imagined one day that the thing I would want the most in my life would be a divorce (Crazy isn’t it!)

    We learn a lot anyway Lisa. I am happy that are out of it now so that you can inspire others.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Marie, yes, I wish I could have waved a wand too but I guess we wouldn’t have the wisdom we’ve earned if that were the case. I didn’t picture myself divorced either. No one wishes for that. You’re almost there, Marie. You’ve come a long way in your divorce journey.

  14. This is a great list. As someone who is recently separated from my spouse, I wish i found this list earlier. I knew my finances would take a hit, but i didn’t know if would be by this much, the fact that you say that it’s temporary that makes me feel hopefully that this financial drought won’t last forever. Just wondering, is there a way to divorce that is less heavy on the wallet? I noticed there are online options for divorce that can be as little as $35 ( http://www.thistoo.co for those who are interested) but i’m not sure if they’re trustworthy. Your expertise would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Alice, You will find yourself back on your feet, financially (in time). I haven’t had any feedback nor had I ever tried an on line divorce. It would have to be applicable in your State, Province, Country…before it would be official. The site looks pretty reliable though. Thanks for sharing!

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