People keep telling me I’m brave to share my story. I don’t see that. Living through it was the hard part. This is the gravy.
Within days of receiving the text, I got online and searched for answers and support. Most sites offered me nothing. They discussed how to have an amicable divorce (yeah… somehow that didn’t seem too likely in my case), they talked about how to prepare for an upcoming divorce (too late!), and they focused on the legal process, not the life change. I found a few sites that dealt with spousal abandonment, which gave the comfort (and the horrifying realization) that I was not alone. I spent only a short time on these; however, as they mainly focused on people telling their “shock” story over and over. That’s important, but I wanted to get beyond that moment in time. Many of the sites were angry and blaming. Sometimes we need that; I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t raged and cursed and pictured his head on the punching bag. But again, there comes a time to let that go.
I felt so alone, so isolated. People rallied around me yet I had no one that had been through an atypical divorce that could show me the way. I sought guidance from my “love mentors,” but I wondered how my crazy situation would translate. A seed was planted in those early weeks and months. I knew I wanted to thrive and I knew I wanted to somehow create something good from the tsunami. I had no idea how to do it.
Running parallel to my emotional struggles were the legal and physical ones. I spent my days talking to police, lawyers, and doctors. As I shared various portions of the tale, I could see their eyes grow wide with shock and disbelief. “You should write a book,” was an oft heard refrain. So, my personal journal started to become a book. For the first several months, all I did was recount the events and describe my powerful emotions. I envisioned an “ending” where he was in jail and the courts came through in my favor. I didn’t get it yet. I still saw my happiness tied up in his.
The divorce finally happened. He got his slap on the wrist for bigamy. And I found Match.com. I spent the next couple years living. I no longer recounted my story frequently and I stopped writing altogether. Instead, I focused on learning the lessons I talk about here. I knew I still wanted to finish the book. I had the first half written but I had no idea how to finish it since the pictured ending never came. It turned out I had to live it first.
That’s when everything came together. I saw how I could use my story to let others know that they are not alone. I realized that there were lessons I learned that might be able to help others in many situations, not just divorce. I also was acutely aware that I had a great movie-worthy framework (thanks to my ex) from which I could anchor my lessons.
Throughout, my writing has help my own healing. I’ve written about the therapy inherent in the writing process. Sharing has also helped me move forward and release some of the anger as I can start to transform something that was so ugly into a form that can be of benefit.
I’m not brave. I acutely remember those moments when I felt so isolated and lost in the dark during the divorce. I knew there was a path out, yet I could not yet see it and I there were no guides. I hope that by writing and sharing my story, I can at least give you a flashlight to help you find your path. Please leave the light on for those who follow behind you.