This post is third in a series of posts on the transitions that accompany divorce. You can read the first post in the series here and the second one here. I originally wrote these last year, as I was contemplating my first year post divorce. I also had a friend who was dealing with separation and divorce at that time and I thought some of these things would be helpful for others facing the specter of divorce.
Phase 4—Picking Up the Pieces and Moving On
After the judge’s gavel drops for the final time dismissing all in the courtroom to go on about their lives within the new parameters issued by The Court, the process of picking up the pieces and moving on begins. I call this a time of rebuilding the kingdom. Your kingdom might be ravaged by war in many ways: physically, emotionally, financially to name a few. It takes time to sort through the remains and build a new life out of the ruin.
During this time, if you have children, your family will adjust to living in two households. You may experience a holiday or two where you do not spend the time with your children as before because they will be at the other parent’s home. You may experience grief, loss, pain and deep sadness. You might be ecstatic that your nightmare has finally ended. Your children will likely experience a wide range of emotions also and may need some help dealing with them. You will be adjusting to new schedules, new responsibilities, possibly a new living arrangement in a new location. This period is all about learning how to do your new life and getting used to the way things will be. It’s time to slow down, take some time for yourself, reflect, experience the emotions, don’t deny them, learn and grow and hang in there.
3 Certainties Besides Change
Earlier, I stated that the only constant is change. One simply can’t predict a dragon’s behavior or the fallout of a dragon’s fury and damage. But, as with most things in life…even if it is very bad…it’s not all bad.
Last year, after completing my first year post-divorce, I made the following observations about what I’d learned during the year.
1. Things (whatever disaster may come) are never as bad as they appear to be at first. I will get through it somehow.
2. I will survive and will learn something in the process if I pay attention.
3. Things will turn out okay, though it might be a bit messy or difficult getting there or, to put it differently, slaying dragons is never easy.
As I come up on the second year post divorce (two and a half since leaving the ex for the last time) those words are even more relevant than they are today. It’s been a long exhausting haul financially and emotionally but things are much better now than they were. The romance department, while incredibly disappointing this year, taught me many things I would not otherwise have learned. The divorce dragon has been buried. Our castle, bit by bit, is being repaired and improved. We’ve cleaned up, replaced the tattered gowns, polished up our tarnished crowns and there is more order and prosperity in our little kingdom than we had last year. In spite of the new challenges and heartbreaks we faced this year, we continue to thrive. My children and I are going to be just fine. I hope this encourages others who might be wondering if the battle will ever end, if the dragon can be slayed, if peace and prosperity will ever be theirs again. I am here to say, the battle does end, the dragon will die and there are better days ahead. Those days begin now. Believe it!
I would like to close with words I penned after my first rebuilding year. These words, now more than ever, express my feelings as I conclude another post-divorce year:
As I near the end this year, I have one overriding emotion. It is the same feeling one might have after winning the Olympic gold medal in a come-from-behind-to-win-against-all-odds victory. It is the same feeling players on the underdog football team feel when they win with insurmountable odds against the chosen favorite. It is better than joy. It is deeper than exhilaration. It is more powerful than elation and less fleeting. It is deep, deep conviction and confidence that comes from facing the demons, slaying the dragons, and emerging from the dragon’s lair, with princess gowns a bit torn and slightly charred, crown askew, maybe a bit tarnished, hair mussed and ratted, soot smudges on my face, but with my life and health intact and the dragon’s head in my hand. My kingdom is safe and those in my castle can breathe without fear. We are at peace with ourselves and our world. The rebuilding projects are progressing steadily throughout the land. We can view the future from atop the mountain of hope and joy together. It doesn’t get much better than that.