Starting over again
There’s no "good" way to divorce
by Harlan Jacobsen
BECOMING DIVORCED IS PROBABLY THE MOST PAINFUL, TRAUMATIC EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE YOU WILL EVER HAVE
Survive this one and other emotionally trying experiences will seem easy in comparison. You will be on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs—with mostly downs initially. You will think sometimes you are going crazy because you have never had such a mixed bag of feelings before.
If you understand what shock is (not a surprise), shock is something that a bird dies of when you catch it. Shock can also kill a person who was apparently unharmed in an accident. In an accident, the most important thing to treat initially is shock. Sometimes an accident victim has no problem till long after the accident has happened and "shock" sets in. We could talk about the treatment for shock (physical) or we could talk about what is happening physically. You are concerned with emotional shock.
PHYSICAL OR EMOTIONAL SHOCK IS SOMETIMES DELAYED REACTION
You may have been so stunned by your divorce and subconsciously have not really admitted to yourself that it has really happened. When you do admit to yourself that it really is true, you will then often have the delayed "shock" reaction.
YOU WILL GRIEVE OVER THE DEATH OF A RELATIONSHIP — THE SAME GRIEF PROCESS YOU HAVE WITH ANY DEATH THAT MEANS A LOSS TO YOU
There are stages you go through such as the initial denial. This didn’t really happen. You seem relatively unaffected because you are too numb to process what has happened.
YOU MAY GO THROUGH STAGES IN A DIFFERENT ORDER THAN SOMEONE ELSE
You may get hung up for months in one stage and someone else will whistle right through that stage but get clobbered in the next one. Everybody has reactions from divorce. Often different—reactions and different intensities—but reactions to the divorce process never-the-less.
YOU THINK YOU HAD THE WORST DIVORCE EVER...
Nobody’s divorce was as bad as yours until you get out and talk to others. It is like I complained I had no shoes till I saw someone who had no feet.
Probably the most unexpected upsetting scenario I have ever heard of was the guy who lived in a trailer house in a nice park with a nice late model car. He kisses his wife goodbye in the morning believing he was happily married with a terrific wife and two terrific kids. He rides his motorcycle to work so she can use the car. Coming home that night, he finds his wife and kids, the trailer and the car all gone. Pinned to the light meter pole near the empty cement slab is a note:
Dear John—I have decided to leave you. I have taken the kids and the money from the bank account. I am sure you will understand.
WAS YOUR DIVORCE THAT BAD?
Is there a right way and wrong way to split? We find there is no really good way to split. They weren’t a perfect spouse. Do not expect them to be perfect or even "good" at leaving.
ARE YOU DEMANDING JUSTICE?
That they need to explain to you "why" they are leaving? That it wasn’t a "good enough" reason—a lie, not the real reason. That they "owe" you something. That you "owned" them and they have "no right" to leave now. That they picked a terrible time to leave. That sneaking off was a running way to leave. That you are going to see they are "punished" if it is the last thing you ever do.
NO ONE HAS DEVELOPED A GOOD OR RIGHT WAY TO SPLIT
Splitting a relationship of two people inter-tangled after years of togetherness is going to be painful no matter how you do it. Some know they need to be apart but do not have the courage to split. As a result, they chip away at each other, emotionally destroying one another until one does something so upsetting they finally come apart.
OTHERS, NOT HAVING THE COURAGE TO SPLIT, MAKE LIFE SO BAD FOR THEIR PARTNER THAT THEY FINALLY FILE
Then when the divorce is not going so well or settling things on an equitable basis is going badly, they say, "Well, you are the one that wanted the divorce."
COMING APART IS A "CRAZY MAKING" PROCESS
Sometimes, you are sure you did the wrong thing in coming apart, even though you have known for two years that there was no other possibility for the relationship. Sometimes you feel sorry for your ex—not making it by themselves. You feel guilty for their doing so badly. The next minute you catch yourself plotting what you can do to "get even" for the way they did so and so—part of the coming apart process.
IF YOU HAVE TWO LAWYERS, THEY JUST NATURALLY MANIPULATE YOU TO A WARRING POSITION
Lawyers think differently, and categorize nearly everything into an adversary position.
What was an ant hill becomes a mountain. Everything becomes distorted. What is significant sometimes appears insignificant. What is often insignificant gets magnified all out of proportion.
ATTORNEYS ARE PART (BIG) OF THE EMOTIONAL PROBLEM OF DIVORCE
Attorneys are not the solution to the emotional trauma, they are often the source. They have little or no understanding of your extreme emotional feelings at this time. In fact, one of the reasons they charge more for divorce cases and despise them is that they do not understand nor know how to handle the emotional intensities generated. The specialized divorce attorney ( when you can find one) is to the legal profession what a proctologist is to the medical profession. Nearly every judge hearing divorce cases can hardly wait until he is transferred to something else.
YOU HAVE HEIGHTENED MOOD SWINGS—YOU ARE ON AN EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER OR YOYO
It is crazy making, trying to figure out how you can feel one way one moment, and another way a short time later. You think you are coming unglued. You often have time distortion—some things seem to be dragging on for an eternity.
MANY BECOME PRACTICALLY PARALYZED
Like someone threw rocks in their gears, they become immobile and accomplish nothing, seeming to go around in circles.
SOME, FEELING LOSSES, SEEK REVENGE
They open up what is know as divorce warfare. An expensive process that lawyers thrive on. Many newly divorced go for one of the two following extremes—
1. I’ll take everything they’ve got and see that they get nothing; or
2. I do not want anything at all that had anything to do with them. I just want out.
Both of these positions may turn out to be costly.