Sitting in the back seat of my car I felt numb. Strange. Unsure. I stared into the seatback ahead of me, yet my mind couldn’t look away from the unknown path ahead of me. The road constructed for my future closed off. No longer an option.
“Here,” she said.
I turned to the voice next to me. Her arm outstretched. I held my hand out as she dropped the ring into it.
Whatever I had been feeling fell through the massive hole in my gut. In my chest. In my heart.
I’d sprung a leak, and however I attempted to remain afloat couldn’t prevent the feeling of complete failure from flooding in.
“We should go,” she said. My former wife. My former lover. My former soulmate.
So many formers.
Why did I agree to drive jointly to the divorce hearing?
My very first lesson as a newly minted divorcee. My first of many.
Here are some of the other lessons I’ve learned from divorce.
1. It Feels Like a Death
I’ve gone through death before. My father died eight months or so before my wedding.
I think one of the reasons I so desperately wanted my marriage to work was because she was the last woman who met him.
And yet that probably was one of the reasons why it went on longer than it should have. Or perhaps why I even went through with it in the first place.
So I’m familiar with close death, and this truly felt like one. The loss of such a relationship brings with it the loss of dreams. Of ideas and of ways of life.
Pretty much everything that goes with the loss of human life can be found in the death of a marriage. I’m not sure which hurt lasts longer.
2. It Feels Like Failure
I was the first person in my immediate family to go through a divorce. So I felt like a failure.
I was raised in the church, where divorce was about as taboo as it got.
So I felt like a failure around people who had been around me my entire life.
I felt judged, more than usual. Not that this section is church specific, but the way people acted shoved me further away from regular church services. I didn’t feel judged by my religion. I felt judged by imperfect people.
But everyone has people who will judge. Assume. Fill in the blanks. People who will MadLib your life. Mentally jotting in whatever verbs and adjectives that fit their narratives.
3. There’s No Right Way But Plenty Of Wrong Ways To Cope
I’m not really sure what the right way to cope is, but I probably didn’t do it.
There was an emptiness in my soul that needed filling. And I tried to fill it with just about everything.
I didn’t have anyone to really talk to about it. At least nobody with any experience.
I saw a therapist. Perhaps that was the one right step I took.
Prior to that, I had never considered a therapist. Part of me even felt like a failure for admitting I couldn’t just tough-guy stonewall my way out.
It was at least nice to go to someone who didn’t judge me. At least not openly.
4. You’ll Make Plans With Spouse Before You Remember There’s No Longer A Spouse
It’s obvious that there are two parts to the brain because part of it often needs to catch up with the other.
There would be times where I’d see a movie trailer or pass a new restaurant and think “Oh, we should go…” and then realize there was no more “we.”
I still do that with my dad from time to time, although not as often as I used to.
Guess if you’re like me you’ll need a bit of mental reprogramming.
5. Suicide Watch May Be A Thing
Sometimes you just don’t feel like talking with anyone.
The phone rings and you don’t pick up. You see a text and you don’t answer. People IM you and you don’t reply.
Divorce is depressing. At least for me, it was. I didn’t want to talk to certain people because it meant I’d have to talk about it, and I didn’t want to see certain people because of the look they’d give.
So I usually just stayed inside.
Usually, if my friends could pull me out of the cave I’d have fun. Sometimes it ended in a pool of tears, but usually, it was fine.
You’ll find out what kind of liquors bring out the tears and what kinds of liquors bring out the anger. I’d say try to avoid those.
Either way, I started to avoid so many people that eventually I’d get phone messages and text messages from family in the form of “are you okay…?”
I’m going through a divorce and the death of future dreams. Is that okay?
Leave me alone.
But as nobody in my family knew what I was going through they had a rotating watch to check-in on me.
I hated it.
6. They Will Do Things That Will Piss You Off Even After The Divorce
I have always been a beer guy.
Long before the current micro beer craze hit.
Before I was legally allowed to drink (unless you’re a cop then I’ve always been on the up and up).
Back when I had to drive 50 miles just to find a new beer.
It was part of me. Part of my DNA. It was one of the things that made me different.
My wife hated beer. Wouldn’t drink it. Sent it back to me in disgust whenever sampling it.
I even run a YouTube beer channel reviewing beers.
So her not enjoying a beer sucked, but it was what it was.
And then, years after our divorce, I saw a picture of her. Laughing with friends. Drinking a beer.
She might have cheated on me. Lied to me. Hell, took my deep fryer when moving out. But the thing that really irks me? Her drinking beer now.
Probably doing so while using my deep fryer too.
7. Sex With Someone Else Is Strange
You kind of fall into a routine with your spouse. Or, at the very least, you know what they like and you know what to expect.
With someone else, it’s completely different. Which can be exciting, disappointing, amazing, depressing, and so many other things all at the same time.
Sometimes simply the taste and smell of someone new can throw the entire thing off. It’s just out of place.
I know I assumed this would be different. But there are always little things you take for granted. That thing you used to do that your spouse loved? This new person might hate. Or they trim their hair in a way that’s a bit off to you.
One of the biggest things I found strange, or perhaps odd is the right word for it, is being in the same bed I had been in with my spouse, but with someone else.
Once again the visions you had with someone are now completely gone, and seeing someone else in their place, even if only partially, can be a trip.
8. Life Goes On
There were times I didn’t think this would happen.
I hit rock bottom in many ways. Many I’ll write about. Some I won’t. But I eventually started to answer phone calls and respond to messages. I picked up the pieces.