D-Day: Where were you?

A friend of mine got a divorce today.  Today.  Her D-Day.  While the rest of us were going about our usual day, her world was changing.

When she texted me to say it was done, I debated on a response.  I remember all of the “Congrats” texts that I received on my D-Day.  Everyone was excited for me.  I was breaking free from the drama.

Ha!  Look at me now.

I remember my D-Day vividly.  It took 14 long months to get to it.  (Or 13 years…however you choose to look at it.)  For some reason, he wouldn’t sign the decree.  He was practically living with another woman, but he wouldn’t release me.  My attorney got a hearing date.  Two weeks before the date, he hired an attorney and started disputing things.  I started to panic that it was going to be a gruesome battle.  I was in the car on the way to the courthouse, trying not to have a meltdown or black out from hyperventilating.

At a red light only a few blocks from the courthouse, I got a text from him that said, “It’s inked.”

He meant that he had finally signed the decree.  It meant that he wasn’t coming to court.

I couldn’t breathe.  Somehow I made it to the courthouse.  There was a lump in my throat.  My head was spinning.  People were going about their day all around me, and yet, I was moving in slow motion.  Trying not to fall apart.  I couldn’t believe that they didn’t notice my pain.  It felt like it was oozing out of me.  Glowing like a neon sign.

I remember standing with my attorney as the judge reviewed the decree and asked me questions.  One of the questions was to confirm that I wanted the divorce.  I wanted to run screaming out of the court room.  No, I didn’t want the divorce.  Rather ironic, since I had filed for divorce, but I really just wanted him to see what he could lose.  And yet, he signed and I was standing there alone.  Alone.  My first experience with alone.  It was all very surreal.

Less than 20 minutes later, it was over.  That was it.  Wait.  That was it?  That’s all it took to end 13 years of marriage?  A few questions and some signatures?  Was this really happening?  I remember following my attorney to the file clerk’s office.  I remember nodding as she gave me information on the child support and 401k distributions.  I remember thinking, “Do not lose it.  Not here. Just keep smiling and nodding.  And breathing.”

Somehow I made it to my car.  The floodgates opened.  I’m sure that I called my best friend, but I don’t remember the conversation.  I just remember the grief.  And the shock.  I met my mother and sister for lunch.  The waitress asked me if I wanted sweet or unsweet tea as if life was perfectly normal.  People at other tables were talking and laughing as if the world had not just ended.

That night, my friends threw a fabulous Divorce Party for me, complete with a limo, champagne, cake, and gifts.  I laughed.  I smiled.  I struggled to breathe.  It was as if I was watching it all through a bubble.  It wasn’t really me.  This all wasn’t really happening.  I wasn’t really divorced, was I?  Everyone was so happy.  I was in shock.  I was confused.

It’s hard to describe what divorce really feels like.  You think that you can imagine it when you are married, but once it happens, you realize that you were way off base.  I have married friends joke that they know what being a single mom feels like when its hunting season.  Hmph.  It’s like saying that you know what childbirth feels like because you’ve felt a menstrual cramp before.  Not.  Even.  Close.

My husband is gone.  I can’t call him when something funny happens.  I can’t call him when something bad happens.  He doesn’t love me.  He isn’t in my corner.  He’s in someone else’s corner.  And it isn’t temporary.  Anyone can survive anything on a temporary basis.  This is forever.

Everything that you know is gone.  It might have been bad, but it was known.  All of your dreams are gone.  They might have been unrealistic, but they gave you hope.  Your finances might have been poor, but you had learned how to juggle them.  You might find love again, but right now, you have been rejected and feel unlovable.  Things might improve, but how and when?  It is unknown.

The unknown of divorce, at least at first, is not the same as the unknown of, let’s say, going off to college.  Leaving home and going off to college is exciting.  You can’t wait for the new experiences.  You worked your entire educational career for the opportunity.  Leaving your marriage  isn’t exciting.  At least not at first.  Not on D-Day.

On D-Day, you feel more like the soldier on “Saving Private Ryan” in the opening scene when they are storming the beach.  The soldier that lost his arm, and amidst all of the gunfire and bombs and soldiers dying, his mission was to find his arm.  He was shell-shocked.

To my dear friend on her D-Day…it gets better.  The shock wears off.  You find your way.  You find hope.  And eventually, the unknown does feel exciting like when you go off to college.  You just have to feel the pain first.  And soon, when you are ready, we will celebrate.

Comments

  1. Very sorry for your friend Strong Lady! Divorce is very hard because it’s the end of what you have known and the beginning of the unknown. But I say this with the most respect, divorce is hard and you feel like the world is ending, (it’s not!) but stay in a very bad abusive marriage can kill you. Not like dead in the grave, but your spirit, your family, who you really are, your life. I know it’s hard, but sometimes the hardest things are the best things for success in life. Be strong! Live good! You have loving true people in your corner! And change the D in divorce to D as in discovery. As in Discovering a new you and new better life!

    • I love the discovery idea. I certainly see it more that way now. It only took me FOUR YEARS. I think I was a prime example of dying from mental abuse. The old me was gone, and each day, I take a step toward discovering a new me!

  2. Absolutely! Even when the divorce is your idea, you know its the right thing to do, the way to find yourself again, etc…its still a bit of shock to feel alone like that. The people at work wanted to throw me a divorce party…but having been married for 13 years, finally getting out, it was an exhausting, and mentally draining process…and not something I really wanted to celebrate…I just wanted it to be over, and to move on.
    Good luck to your friend 🙂

  3. I am with you, it takes a LONG time to get used to it, embrace it, etc. when you are an abused wife. Or Ex Wife as I guess it would be. I wouldn’t wish divorce on anyone. Even though it was exactly the right thing to do, and the safest thing for my children, it was horrible.
    Praying for your friend. And for you, cause we can always use someone on our side praying us up!

  4. It was one of the worst days of my life and I almost started crying when I read this blog because my ex did the same thing (living with another women, not signing, making me serve him twice, and then not even showing up to court, as if our marraige didn’t matter). It will be a year Sept. 6, but the pain is still there. It makes me mad because he took my dream away from me with with his addiction and cheating. I hate being single. I loved being married even when it was rough. I hate the unknown. I can’t wait for the “exciting” to kick in. This was an excellent blog and I am sorry for your friend and I am glad that she has someone there for her to cry to.

    • April, I am so sorry. I wish I had words to make it better. They just don’t exist. And I wish that I had a date that you could circle on your calendar for when better and exciting will arrive. I remember wishing that someone could tell me that too. I could handle the pain temporarily, I just wanted to know WHEN exactly it would end.
      Focus on you. It’s hard. You won’t want to. The only thing that got me through it (other than some really understanding friends) was the idea of “fake it until you make it.” I went through the motions of what I knew that I was supposed to do – exercise, dinner with friends, reading, pretending to live a fabulous life. I’m not going to lie, it is EXHAUSTING. But then one day, you look back and think, “Huh? I did all of that? I’m stronger than I realized.” For right now, just take it one day at a time. And email me whenever you need to vent. 🙂

  5. Oh Lord, on the one hand, I am so grateful for these posts, because I feel like you’re lighting the way for me. On the other hand, I feel terrible that it’s been so hard. But you’re definitely stronger now than you were back then. You’re definitely getting there. And what an amazing new life you’re already nurturing. Chin up, my dear.

  6. WOW. I remember those feelings too, though they have been burried a long time now. Well written.

  7. I wanted my divorce, so D-Day was like a new beginning for me, and a welcomed one. We had the longest divorce in history for NO reason… no kids, no property, no assets, no money, but it still took two and a half years. By the time we got to our D-Day, I was already in my new relationship for a year, and he had a child! I got to see pictures of the little guy while we waited. But even that wasn’t the most uncomfortable part.

    When they handed us all our pretty golden-sealed decrees, we literally shook hands, wished each other luck, and walked away.

    SHOOK. HANDS.

    Like it was a business transaction. It was so bizarre and unnatural, even though being together was also bizarre and unnatural.

    Either way, I would say this to anyone who is divorced whether it was their choice or not: As hard as it may be, being with someone you don’t love or who doesn’t love you is a million times worse than this can ever be. This sets you free to truly live in the way that you want to, to eventually be open to someone who will reciprocate the love, honor, and trust that you wish for in your relationship. This discomfort is temporary, and eventually D-Day becomes Independence Day.

    • I wish I had that. Unfortunately, I loved him. Loved him with everything that I had and created two wonderful children with him. Now we have to go about the business of raising them together. (or me raising them and him making appearances) And when he makes those appearances, I am reminded of what SHOULD have been. I think the vow was “til death do us part.” Of course, maybe that’s just my old mind playing tricks on me.
      I do know that I am living the way that I should live. I don’t have utilities cut off any more like when we were together. I don’t think I’m crazy anymore, like when I was dealing with his lies. There is peace in that. But continuous contact with someone that you loved and now feels like your enemy…painful. Still waiting for that to change.

  8. My divorce was final at the end of last year, after saverel years of trying to keep it together. I filed and asked him to leave and was met with little resistannce, so our process was mild compared to many, though traumatic for me. I read to learn where I may have been smarter. I wish I had known about this site three years ago when first faced with the crumbling marriage. However, in the midst of the struggle, I did not have sense or mental energy to look. Thankfully, I seem to have found a trustworthy lawyer, but I’m not happy with the child visitation schedule at all. I feel powerless to change it and unsure of what is actually best for children.

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