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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Opening the Journal

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Deep breath.

In many ways, this will be my most personal post yet. These are the thoughts, the words, that came in the first few weeks uncensored by the keyboard and unedited by time. I’m choosing to share this to reveal the underbelly of the healing process. I want to show that it is possible to move on from such pain and I want to highlight the importance of positive thinking and goal setting early on in the healing journey.

I started journaling on July 15, 2009, four days after I received the text.I learned about Uganda on July 20 and the bigamy on July 22.  Much of the writing in the journal was done in the early months, as I transitioned to the computer during the late fall and winter.

I chose to divide my journal into three sections and made a rule that each writing session had to begin in section one and proceed through section three.

Section one: This was the space for the unedited vitriol. This was the anger, the poison. I knew I had to release it and there was oh so much to release. The writing is rapid, the angles harsh. I pressed so hard that I tore through the pages in spots. This was the domain of the broken heart.

Section Two: This was for the day to day thoughts and practicalities. It was designed for observation and problem solving. This was the domain of the rational mind.

Section Three: The final section was for dreaming. I let my mind focus on the infinite and wonderous possibilities that the future might hold. This was the domain of the spirit.

I have no idea how or why I decided to structure my journal this way. In retrospect, that was surprisingly lucid for my state at the time. Recent research supports this model, as they found that high ruminators (I’m not sure if I am this but I am definitely a high analyzer) benefited from a fact-based, mundane journal but suffered when rehashing the negative feelings over and over. My three part design and my insistence on not ending with the negativity allowed me to vent but kept me from getting stuck in the sadness and anger.

For those of you early on in your journey, I hope you can find recognition and some possibility in these entries. For those partway through, I hope you can find acceptance of the process and be patient with yourself. For those who have come out the other end, I hope that you will find encouragement for how far you have come. On of my biggest lessons in all of this is the enormity of the damage that can occur when you deny your feelings. My ex destroyed his life and impacted others because he refused to face his emotions and instead kept them locked away and hidden beneath a facade.

So, here goes. These are excerpts from the journal, in no particular order. Names have been blurred to protect identities. The highlights are from my work when I was writing the book. For those new to my site, please remember that this was 8 years ago. This is not the space I am currently in.











journal8 journal7 journal6 journal5 journal4 journal3 journal2 journal1

I can read these now with some distance. I remember the pain, yet time has dulled its sharpness to a mere whisper. I identify with the woman who wrote this; I can see traces of who she is going to become. I am no longer her; however, I don’t have the anger anymore that fills these pages. I have learned to soften and to accept. I have forgiven my ex and let go of the need for understanding.  The messages of hope and the small celebrations make me smile. I almost wish I could reach back and give the me of those days a hug and tell her that it will be okay and that her hopes and dreams will come in time.


Moving on

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28 thoughts on “Opening the Journal

  1. I applaud your courage. Then and now. Thank you for your willingness to share something so very personal and raw.

  2. OM…this could easily be my journal. Thank you so much for sharing. Through my sharing my story, I have been able to help 2 people who had similar situations. I feel like I’m in the middle or closer to the end of my journey to being healed, but I’m glad I’m not in the beginning anymore. Thanks for validating how I felt early on.

    1. And thank you for using your story to help others. I think too often, once people are out of the early stages, they move on and never look back or talk about their journey. It would be wonderful if we all would extend a hand to those behind us.

      I’m glad to hear you’ve made it through the worst of it:)

  3. This is so similar to my journal especially the anger and then the hope of moving on and coming to terms with the fears of being abandoned and rejected again. I hope to reach the place where you are today…the efforts of reaching there are given every second of the day and yes, I am proud of where I have reached today. But that said I still have a long way to go….

      1. Thank you. I was trusting it would bring some hope. I’ve talked about where I was in the beginning, but I think it’s so much more powerful to show it. I want people to understand that they can move forward from that kind of pain and anger.

  4. very brave. even i, being divorced for two times dont have the courage to post my journal. they all kept in my treasure chest…thank you for showing this to all the people in the world.

  5. Stuck in fear. I’m in the phase where you know it’s over and things are not going to get better, but you’re not ready to face the end. You play his manipulation game, wishing the charm could last, but it doesn’t. And anger, denial and fear tussle daily trying keep the inevitable at bay, it’s a scary place. Thanks for sharing. I wish I could jump over the years after the separation/.divorce and be at the place where the dulled pain is and the sun shines again. I’m scared to go through the forest. I may not survive, I may go insane. It’s been too much held down for too long. When it comes up, will I be able to handle so much? Will things break? Will it just be my heart that breaks is the question that makes my knees shake.

    1. Hugs, lady. You are stronger and more resilient than you can imagine. It is so scary facing the pain. The loss. It ‘s leaving what you know for what is still unknowable. Trust that you can make it through and then just focus on the next step.

  6. Almost a year later and when people ask why am I not married it’s still hard to come up with an answer that doesn’t require a 300 page story. I wish I had thought to journal in a handwritten way. I think it would had been more helpful. I have a journal on my phone I kept but I spent more time writing only angry entries in it.

    1. Are you still journaling on your phone?

      I actually had my mom help me with a two sentence “elevator speech” about my situation. I then practiced it until I could say it without tears and without the stomach plummeting. It was helpful:)

      1. Yes! I still journal on my phone from time to time. I’m a chronic screenshotter so a lot of my entries are based on the screenshots I take. I try to write a mix of happy things in there too but it’s much easier to use it as a venting tool. It does make me feel better after.

  7. Hi Lisa,

    I’m working myself up to reading your journal pages. It’s THAT huge of a thing I know you went through, because I too, have been there & am nowhere near feeling recovered or healed or I’d settle for ok…..I’d jump up & down to be ok & believe it.
    Bookmarking this for myself & I get your emails now, of which I’m so grateful to have found you.
    I’m also so glad your parents were with you at this tragic time. I was alone, & still am over 5 years later.
    Family & most friends disappeared as my depression worsened. I’m both glad & very saddened at the loss this has caused me, which was purposely targeted at me to weaken me more in hopes I’d take my own life. I say that in all honesty, while still trembling knowing it as fact~but, I’m no longer embarrassed or feel shameful to tell my story as some have made me feel. It’s my story, & my truths as I know them now & discovered them through the years.
    This alone is hard to type, writing it would be illegible to myself or you.
    Thank you for sharing such a “beast” that was your friend in the end, so to speak….your words raw and unrehearsed as they were at such an unthinkable time.
    I appreciate what you’re doing for so many like us. It truly is the worst thing I could ever imagine when I will manage to tell “my story”, too.

    Be well, healthy & prosper.
    Thank you, Lisa 💜


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