Divorce: You’re Doing It Wrong

ef88f920e23d11e2b2dc22000a9f14bd_7

One of the things I’ve noticed so far about the process of separation and divorce are the never-ending questions. Questions between my ex and I, questions from friends and family, questions I ask myself.

How often do you want the kids? How much should I be working? What sort of divorce shall we get?

How are you and Will getting on? Are the kids OK? Do they miss their Daddy (duh)?

Am I working too much? Have I made the right decision? Will my children hate me forever for this?

But the question that haunts me the most is this: am I too happy?

I’ve been feeling massive guilt over the last few weeks for this exact reason.

The truth is, on the day that Will and I decided to end our marriage I felt a huge weight lifted. This decision ended 6 months of heartache, 6 months of misery for both of us not quite knowing whether our future was with each other. We spent that time going backwards and forwards: him spending 3 nights a week in London, me spending my evenings alone feeling lost, scared and overwhelmed. I didn’t cope well at all with two children and retreated into myself, working because it made me feel more worthy and provided a small bit of excitement, an escape.

And then the split happened. There was a while when life was hell, of course there was. I felt absolutely awful. But I pushed on with life and began to take pleasure in the small things again, things I hadn’t been able to enjoy for years. I finally for the first time began enjoying motherhood and felt capable, a bit like the person I have always wanted to be. The children came on in leaps and bounds and were visibly happier, too.

I went out with friends, let my hair down. Cried on a few shoulders and poured my heart out on others. But ultimately the undercurrent of sadness was replaced by a feeling of euphoria.

It was such a weird feeling to me that I actually thought it would be a short-lived post-separation thing. I fully expected the happiness to last a couple of weeks before it retreated back into the temple of doom that was my brain. But it didn’t: it’s still there. Despite the early mornings I could never cope with before, the busy schedule of toddler groups, creche and playdates that used to terrify me, the daunting prospect of paying bills and having to manage our household’s finances… it remains. On most days I feel like there is a sunbeam coming out of my face and it is awesome.

A while into the split I started seeing someone new. I didn’t go looking for a relationship, I went looking to meet some new and interesting people having feelt like I hadn’t spoken to a man I wasn’t related or married to in years. But I did and he is becoming somewhat of a permanent fixture. What is brilliant about this new relationship is that he is so very happy all the time. With my new found state of mind we bounce positivity off each other and it is just so natural and easy.

I know the fact that this has happened has set tongues wagging. But when my relationship ended it didn’t feel like the beginning of a split, it felt like the end. The finality of those six months brought so much relief that moving on as I have done was completely natural. Should I have resisted moving on to another relationship just because it might not have seemed ‘right’ to people who know only snippets of what went on in my marriage?

Let’s face it: I’m the primary carer for two lovely little children who need their mummy more than ever right now, there really was no other way. The alternative to being happy would have been unthinkable when I am now so responsible for them. I couldn’t afford to fall apart when I had their well-being at stake; doing the best thing for me is also doing the best thing for them.

It’s not that I’m not sad, of course I am. I’m very sad that my marriage has ended and my children will spend their life with parents who live apart, possibly with other partners and fragmented families. They will never had the childhood I wanted for them and that breaks my heart. It kills me that I didn’t have it in me to make it work.

But really, the best thing for me and for Elfie and Hux at the moment is to be happy. I’ll still be feeling bloody guilty about it, but trying to enjoy it all the same.

 

32 thoughts on “Divorce: You’re Doing It Wrong

  1. “It kills me that I didn’t have it in me to make it work.”

    Forgive me for the unsolicited advice, especially coming from someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes. But I feel fairly confident that if ‘making it work’ was even possible, you’d have done it. You can’t just decide to make something okay again when it’s not any more (and when you try to force it… well, I can’t imagine anything but misery lying down that road). But you CAN make the best of things afterwards, and that’s obviously what you’re doing. And, brilliantly enough, it’s coming naturally. This is not putting on a happy face. It’s having a happy face. I can’t imagine anyone worth a damn who would judge you for that.

    Good luck to you. x

    • Unsolicited advice is the best (and is always good coming from you, fyi!). You’re absolutely right – you can’t decide to make something right when it just ain’t working. And pushing more for it would have probably just ended in more years of misery for us both and the kids! xx

  2. Should you feel guilty? In a word…no.

    I hope this doesn’t seem too forward, i havent been through a divorce but i have gone from absolute dispair to happiness without warning!!
    You and Will both made the decision that being together made you and ultimately your family unhappy. You both decided to divorce, not to remain unhappy, but to find happiness as individuals and as a family…however disjointed and multilayered that may end up being…

    As an outsider reading your post, the fact that you (in some eyes) have found happiness so quickly should only strengthen you opinion that it was the right thing to do.

    Anyone who can’t see past the fact that you and your home are happier? I say ignore them!

    • Thank-you Carrie. You’re absolutely right- the fact the switch to happiness was so quick and absolute is definitely a great sign! x

  3. As a child of parents that split when I was older, I was so glad that they did. There are several things that I’m not so happy about in relation to it but they are definitely a lot happier than they were and some of the arguments before the split (although mostly behind closed doors and out of hearing) were not fun.

    I really hope that you continue to manage to do it ‘right’. Despite the fact that they are happier apart, the way in which they dealt with it during the fall out has lead to a very long period of things not being right. They don’t/won’t communicate and THAT’s hard work.

    • Thanks Laura. One of the things that really helps me is the people who have grown up with divorced parents who know it was the right thing for their families and they didn’t suffer because of it. One of the things Will and I are always going to strive for is communication and a good relationship for the children x

  4. How could you possibly be doing it wrong if you are feeling happiness and Joy for the first time in ages <3
    When you make choices that are for the good of your holistic health and well being then you will never ever ever be wrong! :) and you have no reason to feel guilt. People and situations come into our life as part of our journey and it doesn't mean that they are meant to stay there forever, now you get to start a new cycle in your life and your lovely children will be 100% happier with you feeling well than seeing you struggle against something that had come to it's natural end.
    BIG LOVE to you Alice, xxxx

    • Thank you so much Loulou! I’m starting to realise just how toxic and negative the influence of some people has been and it’s taken this situation to bring it all out in the open. Onwards and upwards with the next stage :) xxxx

  5. I have only recently started reading your blog (only since Britmums!) but even I can sense you are so much happier and that will pay dividends to your children. Certainly for myself and my siblings, we had a much happier upbringing once my parents had seperated.

    I wish you all the best and you have NO reason to feel guilty. Happy parents mean happy children. Xx

    • Thank-you so much… it really means a lot to hear of experiences from others whose parents have split up and it has meant good things for their childhoods :) xx

  6. Hey Alice, I’ve been super busy and catching up on my fave blogs. My parents divorced when I was 2 – I could never imagine them being together. I’m glad they’re not and I say it’s better to separate now when the little ones are still young and don’t know any different. I have a lovely step mum and step dad who have been in my life from a very young age and I love them and my extended family! I say good for you! For having the guts, the independence and courage to make a better life for you and your children. Xx p.s. I love your happy posts!!!

  7. “Should I have resisted moving on to another relationship just because it might not have seemed ‘right’ to people who know only snippets of what went on in my marriage? ”

    The ONLY people who know what went on in your marriage is you and Will. People will definitely sit on their high horse over this, as I am sure you’re realising. People will talk and assume and judge, but ultimately it’s none of their business. Keep your head held high and enjoy it. And know this, the people who have things to say about your new relationship, would almost certainly be the first to talk about how you’re not coping if you weren’t so happy and together.

    • Truesay, truesay.

      This whole crazy experience has taught me how one should never judge other’s personal circumstances, you really don’t know what goes on in people’s lives.

      The high road feels good xx

  8. Hi Alice, I’ve just spent the last few days reading through your blog from the beginning (absolutely love it!) and even as a newbie to you and your life, you can tell from your most recent posts that you are so much happier since these decisions have been made. It can’t have been easy to make the decisions that you and Will have made, but ultimately, the life and happiness of you two and your children is the most important thing in the world. It must be a sign that things are already looking better for you all!

    Divorce is sad – there’s no other way of looking at it, especially when children are involved. But what is sadder, is a life only half lived, children who don’t see their Mum or Dad as happy – only as tired and sad individuals with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Coming from a child of divorced parents (one of whom set tongues wagging with their ‘early’ new relationship, and one of whom is on their 3rd marriage!) I can safely say that I would wish nothing more for them than the happiness they found by ending their marriage. It took time, obviously, for all of us concerned and there were plenty of mistakes made along the way – but I can look back knowing that they did absolutely everything they could to make it work. They are all now happier than they have ever been, and life as such is better for us all.

    My husband and I were judged by others when our relationship first began (elbow nudges, whispers, comments – you name it!) because of how quickly our relationship had begun after his first marriage ended, and yep it was hard to ignore. But ultimately, the only people that knew what went on was us – no-one else knew more than the ‘snippets’ of our life, yet felt it their right to judge us. I only hope I would never be as judgemental on anyone elses life!

    I wish you all the luck in the world with your new beginnings and hope that you will continue to be able to smile and be happy, you are obviously doing the right thing for you and your little beauties! xxx

  9. I too moved on quickly, which bugged other people, but didn’t bug me, or my children. Several years on I am still very happy with the now not-so-new man, and we have added a child of our own to the family. My kids are happy, I am happy, even my ex is happy. Everybody wins. Ends are also beginnings. x

    • (Catching up, Sunday morning, coffee in hand) Oh my GOD this. So much this. When I split up with my ex, I got together with R six months later. Absolute horror and gossip and scandal – we’d actually known each other a couple of years as friends, so of course there was a bit of muttering about timing. The reality was my marriage had been dead for a long time. Something happened which meant I drew a very big line under it and walked away – and I found happiness. We moved in together within the year, and we live by the seaside here with our six children and life is hard, and tiring, but full of laughter and happiness and love. I wake him up in the morning just to say “oh my god I’m so happy you’re you and not him” and he doest the same, and we laugh about our lucky escapes. And now my ex is happy too, with someone far better suited to him than I was. Being happy is not a crime. In fact it’s a bloody right. Huge big kiss, large glass of wine and a cuddle to you. R xxxx

  10. I don’t know the first thing about what went on in your marriage, but I DO know that you shouldn’t feel guilty for being happy. As a mum, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your kids, because they will soak up your mood like little sponges, even if you think you’re doing a really good job of hiding it. As for what other people think, the only people who matter in the whole situation are those who are actually involved in it. No one else should even come onto your radar.

  11. I had to comment on this post Alice. I lived with years of my parents not being happy, constant arguing, constant ‘please lets have make up cuddles’, forced smiles and tears when they thought I couldn’t see. Years of it. And then one day my dad moved out and it was like a fog had lifted. I saw both my parents blossom and happy. And I would have chosen that any day.
    Yes it’s not the childhood you wanted for Elfie and Hux but it’s a childhood that will be a lot happier as a result. You should never ever feel guilty for wanting to be happy. Your children will never begrudge you that when they are older.
    Good luck for the future, for all of you. Xx

  12. Hi, I don’t even know what to say other than THANK YOU.
    I’m not going through a divorce and I don’t have children. But I have just lost the man that I thought I would have my kid with and that dog, that house, THAT life. I’m despairing, but reading your posts and reading some of your comments… it ensures me that, all isn’t lost. I’m so happy that you’re happy. x

  13. ‘I couldn’t afford to fall apart when I had their well-being at stake; doing the best thing for me is also doing the best thing for them.’

    Doing the best thing for you is exactly right, because if you’re happy they will be happy. Children pick up on stress and unhappiness and tension so easily. It unsettles and confuses them. I can’t begin to know what your relationship with your husband was like and neither can anyone else because, as Steph says very wisely above, no-one else knows but the two of you, but if you’re both happier now then clearly you made the right decision. P.S. Gutted that we didn’t get to meet up at Britmumslive :( Next year! x

  14. Oh gosh, I’ve been struggling so much with the same decision for months and to read your words, well, I’m crying! I don’t really know anyone who has divorced (I’m from a small town, Catholic background it was not the done thing) so I’m a mess over my decision.

    Your words give me hope, thank you x

  15. Finding love and falling out of love are two of those things that you just can’t plan. Much as I think we all owe it to our children to do the best we can for them, including working at a relationship with their other parent, there really can’t be anything gained by keeping a dead relationship going ‘for the sake of the children’. In fact, given my own past experiences, it can be massively detrimental. Be true to yourself, be true to your children and I doubt you can go far wrong.

  16. What the others have said – you don’t need to feel guilty for feeling happy, enjoy it and pat yourself on the back for having got through that horrid time and begun to move on

    Making a marriage work when things aren’t meant to isn’t a success, it just ensures that two people stay unhappy together rather than having a chance to move on and be happy again

  17. What an honest post! I really admire your bravery for writing this.

    Although I have very little experience relating to this, I went through a break up earlier on this year…we lived together, we had a pet together – not quite the same but you get the jist. And after 2 and a half years, instead of being sad…I too felt that weight lifted. It’s always sad when I relationship ends, even if it’s what you want and 100% for the best.

    What I’m saying is, as much as you feel that guilt – don’t. You only have one life and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing something to make yourself happy. We all move on and I too met somebody else (unintentionally).

    This inspired this post on my blog – http://www.unorganised-chaos.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/my-year-of-becoming-yes-woman.html

    We deserve to be happy! :)
    I wish you all the luck for the future xo

  18. You can’t be doing it wrong if you are happy and feeling good :)

    My parents split up when I was 9 and my Mum had put up with 17 years of a horrible marriage and stuck with it “for the sake of the children”. When she was eventually in a position to leave she did and it was the best thing for all of us.

    Sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do for all involved, sure it will be hard just now until you get through the divorce and the dust settles but you are doing the right thing and you seem to have a lot of love and support around you so I know you will be ok.

    Take care

    Cx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>