It’s hard when you’ve been left by a spouse or significant other. Let’s be honest here. Nobody likes to hear that their loved one is leaving them. That’s just hard to deal with in any circumstance, no matter what age you are. But to have a long time marriage fall apart and end in divorce with kids and pets and family in the middle, well, as you may know, it’s heart-breaking at best.
I asked this question a thousand times – Now What Happens To Me?
At first I had no answer. I sat and cried copious tears, alone, afraid and indecisive. But then, I began to heal and to work on myself. Slowly at first, sharing my story with others whom I trusted. I began to realize that I could breathe when he wasn’t around. That was a shocker, but I realized also at the same time that I had been holding myself back, staying silent because things were difficult at home between us and I didn’t want to upset the children.
Once he moved out and the grieving lessened, I realized that I should concentrate on me now. Sure, I am primary parent of the kids so they are here all the time, but I found bits of time to carve out as mine in order to put myself back together. Because he moved out, I took over his side of the closet and made it mine. I rearranged the dresser drawers and spread out my clothing. I started to do little things to make the home feel more like mine and to find a little bit of power in myself. I kept his photos up in the kids’ rooms, but I took down the family photos with him after a time. I didn’t want any reminders of him here for me to see. It was a slow process for sure, as I needed us to get used to him being gone and I didn’t want the kids to grieve him too much, too quickly. Heck, I was still grieving the loss of my husband.
I started reading some self-help books to get myself back on track. His leaving took some of my self-esteem and I had to find myself again. I had to put myself back together and mend my broken heart. I read a lot of blogs and articles online which helped as it made me feel less alone when I read about other people’s experiences which were similar to my own.
I began to take a walk every day. Alone. I noticed the trees when I walked the neighborhood. I walked by the beach when there weren’t a lot of people there. I sat on the bench at times, just smelling the sea air, feeling the sun on my face and listening to the calming waves which are like music to my soul. Exercise helped me to clear my head and concentrate on gratitude. I blessed every little gift I could think of in my life. Sometimes, as I walked, I stomped in anger, releasing the frustration that ebbed and flowed depending on how he was acting towards me. Sometimes I listened to music on my headphones and tears poured down my cheeks. Some days a friend would accompany me and she would let me talk and she would listen with her kind heart, offering suggestions or just a hug and friendship.
I also wrote in my journal, sitting out in the backyard. Feeling at home in nature, it helped me to heal. I watched the wildlife play in my yard, giggling at the squirrels who scampered all over the place and the chipmunks who darted around me. I listened to the birds call to each other. I wrote letters to him, never to be sent, but releasing all the pent up emotions that were weighing me down. I wrote poetry which I had never really done before too. I just let my pen and paper be my guide to spiritual healing.
Although it may feel selfish to you, this is the time in your life when you take charge again of you and your children to make a family unit of your own. For now, you are the matriarch of your family and the kids are depending on you to forge a new family unit. I gathered my children daily, hugged them and reminded them that both of their parents loved them. Because I am primary parent (he has since moved many states away), we are a special family unit. I remind them that we are only as strong as our bonds are and that the bonds that hold us together are strong. I let the bonds with their dad grow as well and I tried to help keep them strong too. It is important that they have their dad in their lives and it is important for him to stay a dad as well.
My kids and I are very close. We speak honestly with one another. I do not bad-mouth their dad because his inconsistency in parenting and lack of communication has shown them who he now has become. Yes, they are saddened by the loss of the man who was at one time, a very hands on, involved dad to them. But as time has passed, they have learned to rely less on him. They are trying to accept this new version, not better version, of their dad, but it is hard on them. I let them vent their frustrations to me. I understand how they feel for I feel similarly – having a STBX husband who has disconnected. I work hard to be there for them at all times, but I also allow them freedom. We talk a lot these days. The younger one was very quiet for a long time before he began to share how he felt. I never forced them to share their feelings, but I always kept an open ear for whatever they wanted to share. I gave them time to process and the freedom to talk it out when they wanted to and when they didn’t, I would just give them a little nudge and remind them that I am here with an open heart and a big hug when needed. Sometimes they shared. Other times, it took awhile. I offered counseling to which they declined. So I went to counseling myself in order to help myself and to help them by being the best mom I could be.
The road is bumpy for sure after a spouse leaves. But it’s also littered with little unexpected gifts that may be hidden from plain view, but are always there. You just have to look for the gifts – special bonds with your kids, deeper connections with family and friends who are supportive, carving out time for yourself, reading self-help books to bolster your self-esteem, being free to be you, doing less laundry, hogging the TV remote control when you want – and tons more! You just have to be open to seeing the gifts.
What happens to you now is your choice dear friends – it’s honestly YOUR CHOICE! Choose wisely. You can make mistakes and choose again so don’t be afraid. Decisions are now yours and you can make all the decisions needed. Listen to advice from others who have been there, but ultimately, remember, this is your life to do as you wish.
Start over. Choose to enjoy the newfound freedom. Don’t look back. Be present. Look forward. You are blazing your own path. You can do it!
I’m rooting for you all the way and I know you’ll get to where you want someday!