Divorcing? It’ll All Be OK

Last week was my wedding anniversary. Had I stayed married the date would have marked nine years of marriage and almost fifteen years together.

For someone who barely even feels seventeen on the inside, those numbers are scary.

Last week was also the busiest time my inbox has been when it comes to ‘help, I think I’m getting a divorce’ emails. Forget Blue Monday, in my emails Splitting Up January is more of a thing.

There’s something about Christmas that brings out both the best and the worst in everyone, and I think festive pressure is a huge contributing factor in the spate of separations that happen come January. I remember my last married Christmas well: I had a raging infection so spent the days surrounding the 25th doing rounds of the open pharmacies hunting down antibiotics, in between doing a 5am Tesco run and preparing dinner for 12 family members. It was Hux’s first festive period so I also played Santa, staying up late on Christmas Eve to wrap presents that I’d unwrap myself on his behalf the next morning.

We argued, I didn’t sleep, It was very tough.

Of course all the family time was lovely and wonderful. But I was also really glad when real life returned to our antibiotic-induced normal in January.

Until real life meant splitting up.

We split up a couple of months post-Christmas, just as the first of the Spring daffodils were appearing. It was, as you’d expect, horrible.

Five years on and it really isn’t horrible any more. I used to see 12th January, my wedding anniversary, as a day almost full of regret and sadness, a time to sit and reflect on the mess I’d made of my marriage. I’d wonder if I’d thrown away my twenties as I spent them married, pregnant and sleep-deprived, and spend hours mulling on what-ifs.

But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in those five years, it’s that regrets and anger have no business in my life. And if I hadn’t married at the age of 23 I’d have probably spent the following years wondering the opposite ‘what ifs’. Looking at my marriage as a waste of time rather than a learning experience is silly: it was a personality-former, a time that helped me discover the person I really wanted to be.

At 27 when I was facing a life alone I never would have predicted what was in store in my future. I didn’t want to be a single mum, I was so ashamed for people to find out my marital status that when meeting new acquaintances I’d do anything to steer conversations away from husbands or family life. I hid my left hand behind my back, hoping nobody would clock my lack of a wedding ring, and when out alone with the children I’d talk loudly about Daddy being away lest a stranger judged me for being on my own with kids. Everywhere I looked I saw nuclear families, mummies and daddies playing happy parents with their 2.4 good looking children.

It felt so lonely, but more to the point it was so unlike anything I’ve ever wanted for myself and my family. I hated feeling ashamed of what I’d become, and I made an unconscious decision that if I was going to be relegated to the rubbish pile of society’s assumptions then I’d be the best darn single mum I could be.

And that’s exactly what I reflected on this January 12th, an event-filled 5 years post-separation. Through happy tears I looked at photos of the journey the kids and I have come on since 2013, the literal and figurative steps we’ve all taken on this road called life. I looked around the home I have created for the three of us, the books we love, the sofa we snuggle on, the music we listen to. I read my work emails and felt proud of the career I have forged, thanking whichever deity exists that I’ve been able to carve such a lovely existence for my family from what I thought would be a life of struggle and shame. I even thought about my ex-husband who, though he was never the man for me, along with his lovely fiancé are both very dear parts of our puzzle.

I’m not sure when I realised it would all be OK. It was quite a while after the split when it dawned on me that we would survive, though to be honest I still have the odd (read: regular) sweaty night tossing and turning, worrying that I’ve peaked and all my positivity, parenting skills and hard work will disappear in a poof of smoke.

Spoiler: that hasn’t happened yet. It may be too late for my frown lines, a result of hours of fretting, but it really is all going to be OK.

And it will be for you, too.

11 Comments
  1. Alice, wish you had been around when I went through my divorce such a painful experience and went through all the anxiety you describe but now life is so much better and love it!!

    Remember long being told time is the best healer but I couldn’t believe that and I couldn’t see an end to the heartbreak but now I tell all my friends time is the best healer.

    1. I remember being told that over and over again too, Hayley. And it really is the best healer – I think it’s frustrating advice at the start of a divorce journey because you just cant see an end to your pain x

  2. Alice, you wrote this on the exact same day I handed in my divorce papers. I’m 25 and I had been with my husband for 10 years when we split. I came here after reading your Sheerluxe post and I can’t explain to you how similar my experience was to yours. The distancing of friends and family, finding the people that really matter, appreciating the little things more, career change… When you’ve been through such a big decision that rips your life apart, the only thing to do is build it back up – but the way you would want to this time! I also worked in advertising but changed career – I now have a dream job in academia and I’m applying for a PhD! I would never have believed in myself enough before. Thanks so much for your honest post, I hope it helps others in the future. x

    1. Sending love to you, Jess. Never sure whether it’s appropriate to say congratulations in these circumstances, so here’s to the next chapter! It sounds like it’s going to be a wonderful one for you x

  3. Nice post Alice, I have followed your journey in this over the years and have to congratulate you.. You have written with grace and integrity, positivity and humour. I have been through a divorce after seventeen years of marriage and sadly it looks like I am going to go though another one after a ten year marriage.. Is that just careless? two ex husbands? I got to thinking that perhaps I was just bad at it…but twenty seven years married isn’t a failure. Walking away when you no longer recognise yourself is, to me, more of a success. Onwards and upwards fellow maven….x

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment Jojo, I really appreciate it. It’s so easy to look inwards at your own life and forget what a good job you’ve done.
      I’m sorry to read you’re going through a divorce and wanted to send you my best thoughts and love. Careless? No way – on the contrary, I think it shows absolute bravery integrity to realise something isn’t right and walk away in the pursuit of happiness. Onwards and upwards indeed, my lovely xxx

  4. I have just found you through the joys of Instagram and saw this post and have been trying not to read it but it is like a scab I can’t help but pick! I got divorced some time in the last 3 years. It is all a blur. It was bad and got worse and then I broke and left. I know 100% that it was the right thing to do but it doesn’t make life any easier. Unfortunately my ex lied about our/his finances all through our relationship and got me and my family into a lot of debt so rather than just an emotional break it was a car crash of finances with me fighting for money for myself and my parents. I feel like I have fought and fought for nearly 3 years now just to stay alive and be the best damn single mum I can be but over the last few months the fight has gone and I have questioned how to keep going. The stigma of being a single mum is tough. I don’t get invited out many places and certainly haven’t been included on the dinner party circuit at school but maybe I have created that by feeling like I’m an outsider. Meeting people on social media who have been through a similar experience give me hope for the future. I don’t feel quite such a failure so thank you for sharing your experiences and I look forward to hearing more about how fabulous your life is cos it cheers me right up!! Sarah

  5. It’s really interesting how different people view things. I have a couple of friends who are divorced, and so is S. We were talking about it at New Years and I mentioned how sad I was to be the only one not to have been divorced, and they all looked at me like I had lost my head – especially S. However, to me I don’t see divorce as a bad thing, I see that you tried. That someone chose you and stood up in front of the world and said “this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with” and that’s huge, and lovely. I have never had anybody do that to me, no one has thought I am worth making that much of a commitment to… like I said, sometime I wonder if I would rather be divorced with kids at my age (32) than dating with no kids. No ones wanted to spend a life with me, no one has wanted to have children with me…funny the different view points.

    1. oh hun!! i wanna give you a hug xx there is no manual for life, for love … keep putting your heart first and i pray someone someday sees that and loves it xx a nice story i have = a friend aged 75 found love and got married!!!

  6. thank you for sharing. only just today our forsale sign went up on the family home and the talkingabout it to my kids has helped me make logical sense of divorce, no manual comes with marriage therefore it’s possible that the relationship wont work, however the sadnes that has since crept up on me this morning … i’ve cried! ive no soul mate, no one person there for me supporting me, at the end of the phone for me. i dont regret the decision of marriage however i wish i was a person in love, feeling loved right now.

  7. I’ve been following your posts for the last 4 years since my husband left and I got divorced. I have two gorgeous girls now aged 5 and 6. I think I’ve been on a similar journey to you at similar times. It took a while but now I’m very happy with my life. I bought a lovely house for me and the girls which I’ve been decorating and making in to a home over the last few years, I’ve changed careers, started new hobbies and met new friends. I know it’s a cliche but I really have grown and found myself. Your post made me cry when you said you felt ashamed, that you hid your ring finger and steered conversations away from marital staus/ families, talked loudly about daddy being away when near strangers and got jealous of 2.4 families, I did all of these. I cried because it reminded me how lonely and hard it was. But that is in the past, I’m not ashamed anymore, I’m proud of what I have achieved and how happy and loved my girls are and will very happily and loudly tell anyone and everyone about it!

    Thank you for sharing your experiences through your blog, it’s been good to know someone else has been going through similar things and successfully come out the other side too x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.