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How to survive a divorce: find acceptance after falling apart

Amid the pain of a failed marriage, it is impossible to forgive your former partner. But it is possible to come to terms with the split – by admitting you have lost

We were together for 13 years. Some days it feels like I didn’t exist until the day we met. Other times it seems like it never happened.

I thought we had a whole life to spend together. We navigated foreign countries and slept on straw mats while lizards crawled on the ceiling and the ocean heaved and moaned outside. We sat bleary-eyed in emergency rooms at ungodly hours, taking turns holding our sick and wailing infant who would not be comforted. We stood hand in hand at the newly dug graves of parents, weeping and silently holding each other. We talked quietly for hours on couches, emptying bottles of wine and telling of our childhoods, our fears, the little triumphs that made us carry on.

But we also wove lies into the DNA of our relationship. Not maliciously, but childishly. Fearfully. We manipulated and tricked each other because we didn’t know the cost. We memorized each other’s scars and picked at them to to get what we wanted. We abused each other’s trust. We allowed our trust to be abused. We were only afraid of being alone. Of being wrong.

I thought we had a whole life together, but it turns out it was only a couple of chapters. The realization that your marriage is over is so cumbersome, so all-consuming, that your brain can only process it in pieces. You drive past an apartment building and wonder what it would be like to live in a cozy studio there. You stand in the grocery store and imagine how your life would be different if you’d ended up with that woman who is taking forever to pick out a bottle of olive oil. You lie in bed at night so far off in your imagination that you forget that your wife is lying asleep next you. You realize you’re living your life as though she isn’t even there.

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