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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce


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I don’t believe my ex intended to leave the marriage via text.

In fact, what I think he had planned was much worse.

I was across the country when he packed his belongings into his car and drove away from his life. I was supposed to return to Atlanta six days later, where I was expecting my husband to pick me up from the airport.

I believe his original plan was to continue to play at normal on our daily phone calls so that I would arrive at the Atlanta airport to wait for a ride that would never come. And be left helpless and penniless with accounts that had already been drained.

It’s strange. Even though I never experienced abandonment that stranded me at Atlanta Hartsfield, a part of me experienced the trauma of being alone, marooned and confused as I waited expectantly for a husband that no longer existed.

And sometimes that trauma is triggered.

And my response is not rational.

My emotions greatly overshadow reality as part of my brain becomes that abandoned wife frantically awaiting a sign that everything is okay.


Last week, after a long Friday at work, I went to start my car only to discover it was flatlined. It was no cause for panic – I was parked safely in a well-known and well-lit parking lot. I had coworkers around who could help. Brock was in town and at home, just twenty miles away. My AAA card was in my purse and I still had one more free tow remaining. I had money in my account to pay for a cab, if it came to that.

In other words, I should have been calm.

I was anything but.

It’s like a breakdown of my car leads to a breakdown in me.

I didn’t take the time to lift my hood and fiddle with my battery. I didn’t ask if someone could jump my car. All I could think about was getting home.

Not being stranded.

I ran back into the building to locate a coworker who drives past my neighborhood on her way home. And I left my car behind.

Brock and I returned to the school a few hours later, where my car started up fine as soon as it felt the caress of the jumper cables. I drove home without incident.

But all week, my anxiety was present.

I didn’t trust my car.

It’s strange. The feeling I had mirrored the anxiety and helplessness I felt at the end of my marriage. Afraid of being abandoned, afraid of not having enough money to survive and yet also scared to look too closely at what may be under the hood.

I just wanted everything to be okay.

To keep on running.

The car obeyed until yesterday, when it again abruptly refused to start. And again, I left it in order to return to the security of home. A home with a husband who again helped me retrieve the car, this time putting a new battery under the hood before making sure I made it home safely.


And even though the car is securely tucked into the garage and I’m snuggled comfortably with my husband in front of the fire, a part of me is still scared.

Scared that my car will betray me again.

Scared that I’ll be stranded and helpless.

Scared that I’ll be abandoned and alone.


A huge hug of gratitude to the friends who drove me home:)


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14 thoughts on “Alone

  1. I am truly sorry your past can still haunt you in this way. I didn’t come home to find my wife had abandoned me like you did. Still, I “get” the anxiety of being stranded by someone (or something in the case of your car). It is a horrible thing to experience. I’m glad you have Brock to hold you through it.

  2. It is strange what can trigger anxiety, or a minor breakdown. I think it is because you have been left to deal with everything on your own. I feel the same, occassionally it is too much and being rational takes a back seat. Keep going, you may not think you are doing ok but you actually are x

  3. I still feel a lot of anxiety from the traumas that I experienced during my marriage. We never saved money for things, so we ended up buying furniture (couches, TVs, washers, dryers, etc.) from rent-to-own places and then never had money to pay the bill so they would show up at our house to collect whatever we were renting from them, and I would hide in the house until they went away. It happened so many times, I guess it just became normal to me. After separating and getting my own place, I still get anxious when there is a knock at the door. My first thought is that it is someone trying to collect property from me even though I don’t rent-to-own anything and pay my bills on time. I hope that goes away after some time passes 🙁

  4. Huge hugs to you cause I know that anxiety can trigger those crazy responses. I think the only thing that works is time to heal, get further away from the initial cause of the anxiety until your subconscious no longer triggers those reactions.

  5. It really helps me to know that even someone as strong as you are triggers like this too, Lisa. You are awesome. Thank you for sharing this and for being so authentic. <3

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