Two years ago I made a decision to leave my husband. I had no idea that this decision would bring on such profound distress in my life. I had no idea that I would be overcomed by the devastating inevitability that my happily ever after was ending, I had no idea that I would be overwhelmed with anger at the thought of losing this permanence in my life. I surely did not get married to get divorced, but when my suspicion that my now ex-husband was unfaithful became a reality, it was the cherry on top of the already mounting difficulties that we have been experiencing.
Things have not been good for a long time for us. I tried everything in my power to make things better. We even attended marriage counseling for a little over a year, but it seemed to have made no difference at all in our relationship. In fact it appeared to have created more issues as the arguments had then become about the “homework” that the therapist assigned us to do. Little did I know that our relationship was not only dysfunctional but down right abusive – because domestic violence is not always physical!
Yet, it was still extremely difficult to make the decision. In the final days before I decided to file for the divorce, I prayed every night for a sign from my Higher Power to let me know that this was the right choice for me and my kids, and a week later I got it… I found out that my husband had already moved on. All of the sudden I felt cast aside, rejected, and ashamed all at the same time which plunged me into an all-consuming whirlwind of emotions!
Every day I felt that these trying times would be my reality forever and ever; time seemed to drag along endlessly. I did not know that I would feel such a deep pain that would at times immobilize me. I had that feeling of gut-wrenching loneliness, wondering if I would ever find love again or was I just going to die alone. I have never experienced such a heavy curtain of grief, even when I watched my mom lose her battle with cancer.
There was also a burning rage within me that was excruciating, as I replayed in my head, all the horrible fights and horrifying incidents that brought me to this point. That rage had finally propelled me to come to a conclusion that I finally had enough! In that moment, I Googled divorce lawyers and made an appointment with the very first one that had an opening as soon as possible.
Almost instantaneously the family was split, people took clear and definite sides, and I was truly finding out who my real friends were. Not to mention the fact that my soon-to-be-ex-husband was also in the 12-step program and we had many mutual friends, and those friends had also taken sides. It was all very devastating and I was desperately trying to hang on to my recovery community.
I finally broke the silence and started to tell everyone. I was first reaching out to anyone I knew for help and support. Unfortunately I did not pick safe individuals and since I never talked about the abuse, people had a hard time believing me, or even understanding. I mean, we were the “perfect recovery couple” so when I announced that we were getting a divorce, and I had filed on the grounds of adultery, cruelty and desertion, my friends, family and community were struck with disbelief.
Because, YES, I faked it all, as much as I could! I covered for me, I covered for the kids and I covered for him the most. Because I was embarrassed – I mean marriage is for better or for worse, till death do us apart, right? Because somehow I got sober and ended up in a dysfunctional marriage. Because I can’t fail at this. Because what would everyone think. Because I was so scared. Because… well, because there were a million other reasons!
I also found that there was a huge stigma associated with getting a divorce, one that I had for sure not expected. Somehow I was automatically terribly flawed because I decided to get a divorce. Did you try counseling? Did you do date night? Did you try…? Did you…? Questions flew left and right about what I did, or did not do, and sadly no one asked me how I was feeling! No one took the time to listen to me and understand how much pain I was in.
Did I want to drink? I honestly do not remember – at this point I was 9.5 years sober and drinking was just not a part of my life. However, in midst of the chaos of splitting money, accounts and furniture, getting ready for court, and trying to establish some normalcy for my kids, I did not see that my pain had reached a great level of suffering and I fell into a deep dark depression…
The end of a marriage is one of the most emotionally painful human experiences. Thinking about the experience of divorce within the context of attachment generates a greater sense of empathy for what you might be feeling. It explains the levels of rage, vindictiveness, grief, and despair that so often accompany this life transition. (from Why Divorce Hurts)
To be continued…
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).