I introduced Elise last week with her describing how ready she was for change when her husband left. Like most of us though, getting through the separation and the divorce was still difficult. When I asked her what she thought was her most significant accomplishment, she looked straight at me and with a smile, said just surviving through it.
I got up, got the kids going every morning, never missed a day of work. I think you always have in your head that divorce is as bad as cancer or it’s something that’s never going to happen to you. But when I was living it, it wasn’t like I was crying everyday. I guess it wasn’t as bad as I had worked it up to be in my head.
In the past I really didn’t use a network of friends very well and I also didn’t have two children to care for. When you have children you have to get out of bed, it’s just not an option. I can’t say I had no problems – I did have panic, stress attacks in the middle of the night. I could wake up with a panic thing and then I would just be thinking and I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. I did have issues with being sleep deprived.
I think there’s a personal character issue. I thought, ‘I’m not going to let this take me down.’ And I was someone who had been prone to depression. There were far more minor things in my youth that triggered that. I’ve been on medicine before but I even went off medicine six months after my ex left. I thought maybe it was being married that was stressing and depressing me.
Divorce doesn’t kill like cancer but it does carry an aura of dread and fear. I was visiting a friend in England almost 18 months before I started thinking seriously about divorce. She asked me if I’d considered it and I said I had but didn’t see it as an option. I said I didn’t think it would change much since I’d still have to deal with my ex parenting our children. I was very wrong about that – it is hugely different, but one reason I said what I did was because I was afraid of divorce – no one in my immediate family had been divorced and at that time, I didn’t have any friends who had been divorced. I’d never had a real conversation with anyone about what living through it was like. And yes, it was a difficult journey but I am so glad I made the choice.
Elise’s ‘I’m not going to let this take me down’ mantra gives a glimpse of her inner strength. Tomorrow, we’ll carry on with her story as she shares how important that network of friends is.