This is the year my marriage ends. This is the year I say goodbye to the life I was building and start construction on a whole new one. This is the year my kids will watch more TV and eat more Amy’s frozen dinners than the entire rest of their lives. This is the year I finally learn to cry in front of other people. This is the year I stop living for everyone else and start living for me.
Here are my current strategies for surviving separation:
1. Lowered expectations
I no longer care how much television my kids watch, whether they get to school on time, how often they bathe, or what the neighbors think of my unmowed lawn. The dishes get washed when the house starts to smell weird and clean laundry never makes it out of the baskets.
2. Live in the moment
I don’t know what I’m doing from one day to the next, and that’s okay. Today is Friday and I let both the kids stay home from school because, for the first time in weeks, I actually felt like being a good mom. Hanging out and having fun with my two little dudes is more important than one day of kindergarten and preschool—for all of us.
3. Admit defeat
I’ve heard and read a lot about people feeling they’ve failed when their marriage ends. I don’t feel that; not for me or my ex. We tried—really hard. What I do feel is, defeated. Defeated by problems and differences that are bigger than our ability to mend them; defeated by the fact that no matter how strong I am, how amicably we handle this, how much support I have, divorce sucks the big fat one. It hurts. Fighting that is a losing battle.
4. Ask for help
This is a tough one for me. When I do ask for help I’m usually so freaked-out that whoever I’m asking can barely understand what the heck I’m saying. The only way to get better at this is to keep trying. So far so good.
5. Know who your friends are
Around the time my marriage fell apart, a few of my friendships did too. Some of this was to be expected: married folks with struggles of their own often react to divorce as if it’s a communicable disease. Some was not: one friend who I supported through countless relationship dramas (including her own divorce) bailed on me in such a ridiculous way that I already have sympathy for her future remorseful moment. We humans are weird creatures and highly emotional events make us even weirder. Giving ourselves and others the slack to drift away or run and hide is the best thing we can do sometimes. The good news is, most of my old friends are still around and the new ones I’ve made know what they’re getting into and are better equipped to weather this storm with me.
The whole family needs it and I’m so thankful we can (sort of) afford it. Writing is my free therapy and you all have joined my text-heavy support group. I’ll admit that I hog the floor a lot—but it’s my blog, so ha!