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Divorce Emotions

of grief and growth

By Traci E. Published about a year ago 4 min read
Divorce Emotions
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

There was no ceremony. I didn’t wear anything special. No food was served. My friends and family did not attend. There were no announcements in the paper or sent in the mail. All I got was a legal document with a stamp on the bottom that said my marriage of 15 years was over. Done. Finished. Kaput. I was divorced.

When you get married you plan an event. I wore a white dress and a long veil. My friends and family attended. We had a reception afterwards with a great buffet and a beautiful cake. A spice cake because we got married in the Fall. There were invitations before and announcements mailed afterwards. Some papers even post wedding announcements. We got gifts! It was a great celebration of the beginning of our life together. A definite ceremony of our lives joining together. Everyone congratulates you and wishes you well.

When a spouse dies, there is an announcement in the paper in the form of an obituary. Phone calls are made. People gather for a memorial and funeral. People wear black. In similar fashion to a wedding, people often gather afterward and eat, most likely a buffet. There are no gifts but there are friends and family to share your grief as they shared your celebration when you joined your lives together. Everyone expresses sympathy and offer their condolences.

When you get divorced you don’t get any of that. You tell your friends and family individually that the marriage is ending. There are no announcements in the paper. There are no gifts or special clothes. There was certainly no buffet. Friends and family either don’t know what to say, say nothing or say bad things about your now ex-husband as a way to try to make you feel better. Some offer a bit of sympathy once and then the whole matter is forgotten.

I was married for 15 years. We were friends as well as husband and wife. It actually hurt when others said mean things about him. I wanted to defend him on some levels. On other levels it made me feel bad as if I was blind or stupid to not seeing things or choosing to stay as long as I did and did they feel this way the entire time? If these people disliked him this much now, had they just been lying to me for the past decade and a half? What else were they lying about? I call this my post-divorce paranoia.

Divorce is a death. It is the death of your marriage, your life as you knew it and the future you were expecting and planning for. You wake up and, still half asleep, reach out and only find an empty pillow. It is fixing a meal and realizing you fixed twice the amount you really needed because of habit.

In my case, my husband packed a bag and left and didn’t come back. Our divorce was handled almost remotely. I did not see him during proceedings. I did however see his toothbrush in the bathroom, his books on the shelves and his clothes in the closet. It was all left to me to deal with much as if I were a widow. It took me some time to get to the point of removing his clothes from the closet and making it entirely my own.

Sure, I know about the support groups for divorced individuals, but I never went. I imagine there would be a lot of anger being expressed and yes, I was angry. There was anger at my ex for leaving (but not to the degree you would expect). I was angry at my situation and the fact that I had to go through this. But I was also angry that no one really seemed to get how major this was.

With a marriage you have the buildup during the engagement and then all the new couple stuff after and everyone looking at pictures and hearing about the honeymoon. With a death you have comfort before if it is an illness or people rushing to your side if it is sudden. Then there is the time after where you are checked on and gradually eased back into society and possibly dating.

With a divorce there are a few initial comments and then all seems to be forgotten. Some people only acknowledge a divorce by trying to get their friend to date again right away. I wonder if they do that with widows. Probably not.

Marriage is a choice and sometimes divorce is too. Death of a spouse is not a choice and sometimes neither is divorce (at least for one party). Yet the parallels between marriage and death are somehow lost in the world of divorce. Maybe they shouldn’t be.


About the Creator

Traci E.

Writing can be therapy, insanity or both. Here is my mind, my dreams, my fears, my thoughts, my life laid bare to share with you. Enjoy the journey into what is at once my blog, diary and world, and don't forget to tip your guide.

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