The Feeling of Failure After Divorce
It’s hard to be the bad guy. The bitch. The one who pulled the plug. The fall-guy. It’s interesting being the one that finally said “enough!”. Not once, mind you, but 3 times. Three times I said, “I do”, three times I gave it my all, and three times I filed for divorce. It’s the only thing I felt I failed at, my only embarrassment, and the only thing I’ve tried not to discuss. Until now. I’ve heard it said that a woman takes longer to be done with a relationship, but when that happens, there’s no going back. For me, that was certainly the case. When I think about my kids and being an example to them, I don’t want them to stay in dysfunctional relationships, but I also have the hindsight to realize that no relationship is easy all the time and that it takes two to make it work. That's why it's so important to me to share the how there are feelings of failure after a divorce.
Yes, I asked for - and went to - therapy. Yes, I really wanted things to work. In the end, each time, I didn’t feel like there was anything to salvage. I stayed in a strict religion years too long. I didn’t do things I wanted for years like get tattoos or piercings because I felt I wouldn’t be the best example for my kids. Not stepping into who I really am because maybe it would rock the boat, or I wouldn’t conform to some invisible standard I set for myself that I was certain the world would shame me for. In the end, I failed myself and quite possibly my kids for not embracing who I am completely and choosing people and relationships that couldn’t embrace all of me. My issue wasn’t losing my identity to a relationship or my kids. It was being afraid of really being myself.
Each time I got married, I loved the person and I had every intention of staying together “‘til death do us part”. I haven’t spent a lot of energy badmouthing them afterward - after all, I chose the man, so all that does is reflect right back on me. I could give a list of reasons things ended, from being cheated on to prison, to years of tension you could cut through with a knife. I told myself it was the right thing to do. I was standing up for myself, putting my foot down, not tolerating, or setting boundaries. When we’re done, we’re done. All true and all bullshit. What justification doesn’t do is admit that I was half the problem.
Even with years of hindsight, I don’t know if I did things the “right way” or if there even is such a place. In each instance what I do know is that I tried my hardest, I did my best, I didn’t sign on to sign off and each time I became more myself. The tragedy is seeing the fallout from decisions I had control over in the beginning and not realizing that more before other people were hurt. The beauty has been learning who I am, the children that have blessed my life in the process and the lessons learned along the way, and most importantly that I’m a great Mom. Although I will never be an advocate for divorce, I am also not an advocate for remaining miserable. I do believe in finding your person and actually remaining strong even (and perhaps especially) when life rocks the boat. But to find our person, we need to find ourselves.
For the record, when you get through all the stuff that’s awful, the emotional pain, you stop crying, and do the work on yourself - including realizing you didn’t fail - amazing things will happen. One of those amazing things could be finding your person.