You may have been shocked by the news of her divorce, your heart may have skipped a beat, or maybe you’ve taken the news personally, but know that her decision to leave wasn’t taken lightly.
The decision to divorce is one that has been wrestled with and tormented by. It carries with it sleepless nights, hidden tears, volcanic fears with explosions unwarned. Every move has been premeditated down every avenue of possibility—every road feeling dark and isolated.
Why do you think it took so long for her to speak this truth out loud?
Darkness has no words; it feels crippling. “How am I going to do this? What is this going to look like for the kids? What kind of other am I? Will my family and friends support my decision to leave? Are we going to be ok? What will people say about me? How am I going to start over? Will we be safe? Is this really it for me? How did I get here?”
On the outside, it may look reactive, senseless, even reckless. “What is she thinking? She had everything. Why would she leave a good man?” An unfit mother, is that what you see?
The surface is never what it seems. It’s so far away from the core, her truths buried. It’s not your job to understand, to make sense of, to give permission to. Know that any judgment you have about her, she’s already swallowed that poison whole.
Every day after feels like a recurring nightmare. She is trying to process and mourne what once was, the death of the family unit. The body is still cold, yet you expect her to have the language to articulate how it all happened. She’s in shock, and in survival, and the only thing she can do is protect what is hers. She has no energy for explanations, nor does she have the language to report to those around her.
If you ask her why divorce right now, it will most likely not be met with a conscious reason, processing and unpacking can take years. You can’t ask someone who’s running away while being chased by a lion, “Why are you running?” They aren’t going to stop to answer your question. She doesn’t care right now about how her news makes you feel. It’s not about you.
When someone mourns a death, there’s a process of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. By the time you hear the news of divorce, chances are she’s already somewhere in the middle of the process, and more than likely, she’s at the point of depression.
I know what the process looks like, intimately. I know that when my news broke out, I could have been in a room of a hundred people and still feel so alone. That’s what depression felt like for me. I know what it feels like to be in that place and not be supported by those close to me to feel like I did divorce alone. It felt like climbing a dark tunnel up a mountain pushing a boulder, so my heart breaks for her.
Have compassion when you stare into her hollow eyes. The life that once was inside of her may have slipped away. The identity of being a wife that she once was blanketed by has been stripped; it feels naked, raw, exposed, unfamiliar.
An identity that once was is gone. The familiar echo of a divorced mom, “Who am I?” She’s forgotten or maybe never even knew.
In time she will remember. She needs space, room to breathe, time to heal, and grow. And when she does, she will emerge into the beautiful creation she was meant to be.
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