Everyone talks about the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I’ve read countless articles and books about how a divorce is one of the most difficult forms of trauma that we go through in our lives.
I expected it to be hard – and somehow, that it would be like a roller coaster. Huge ups and downs and then I’d move into the acceptance phase and get on with my life.
In reality, this is all so much harder than I anticipated. Grief can sweep up on you, in waves. I’ve written already about how alcoholism played a part in ending my marriage. This is only one part. As much as there was disappointment and anger, there was also so much love. I spent 10 years with someone who knew me inside and out, sometimes better than I knew myself.
We’ve parted ways and I know it’s the right decision. I’ve met someone else and am madly in love. Not madly, actually, as it’s the most stable connection I’ve ever felt to another human being. So stable, that I don’t question that we will grow old together, and the thought of this fills me with such love. It doesn’t even feel like forever would be long enough for us – there is simply so much growth to have together.
Because of this, I feel guilty grieving my marriage. I think I’ve been suppressing how it feels to love and let go. All that history, all those memories. They will always be there. Love will always be there. I wanted my former partner to grow into the incredible man I know he’s capable of being. I wished it for him every day. I saw this inner lack of confidence but also hope that has the strength, intelligence and power to change in the way he wants and needs to. Something always held him back. Maybe it was us, together. Who knows.
Now, we still talk. Mostly by text message – just occasional hello’s as we continue to decouple. We still have to sign our separation agreement, sell our properties, sort out our eventual divorce.
As we continue to move towards this reality, I continue to feel lost. I am homesick for the UK, which was my home for the past 10 years. I miss weekend walking trips around London or Glasgow. I miss traveling, I miss my friends. To me, this grief is all wrapped up with my divorce. I ended my marriage, and to some degree I feel I ended that part of me.
This change in life course is so difficult. I keep trying to fill it with things that should make me happy. I wake up smiling every day, grateful for this time to be home in Vancouver to recharge. And it’s working – I can see myself getting stronger, much faster than if I were alone in Scotland. But at the same time, I don’t think my roots are here, anymore. I’m searching for them, and remember that I’ve always been searching, for something.
It’s where I realise that those feelings of permanence will not be found out there, they must be found within me. It’s up to me to do the hard work, navigating on my own through this time. I hoped to be in the acceptance phase, and then onto something new.
I see now that you never end one phase and go onto the next. It isn’t a roller coaster, but a deep ocean full of swells. I have days of depression, mixed with acceptance, joy and anger. I just have to live it, I suppose. It doesn’t make it any easier to miss so many parts of my old life.
Out for a walk, maybe the sunshine will do me good.
Any tips on divorce and grief are welcomed.