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Two years down the line and my divorce is final. It happened last week, the week after I was made redundant and on my last day in the London office. It was a big day for life changes, that Thursday – divorce and redundancy – totes emosh, as the kids say.
Or actually not so totes emosh, really. I’ve known this has been coming for a long time and the only way I can describe how I felt upon being divorced is… weird. It was a totally unceremonious experience; I filled the final form out at home, signed it and drove it to the court on the way to work where it was stamped and put in a pile of other paperwork. Nobody congratulated me, offered me a coffee or asked me to marry them because I now legally can. As this happened so long after our break-up I didn’t really feel sadness, just a sense of finality, I guess.
I did use it as an excuse to have a pizza and wine lunch with one of my favourite soon-to-be-ex work colleagues, though. Every cloud.
FYI: Pizza Pilgrims on Carnaby Street – disappointing and slightly soggy. Sad times.
It has had me thinking about the divorce though, and what it has meant to us all. Someone asked me recently if I felt like I tried hard enough in my marriage and that led to more thinking. I can say with my hand on my heart that yes, I did try very hard to make it work. I think in any situation like this when there are children involved you do your very best to do the right thing by them, which mostly is to have two happy parents in love. And it’s because of this that I spent a long time feeling guilty and like I had failed by choosing divorce.
But it took the final stages of my divorce to realised I haven’t failed, not at all. Choosing to get divorced was instead the bravest thing I have ever done.
The Brave Divorce
I ‘had it all’ by many standards: a big house, a husband with his own business, two beautiful children, a car, money in the bank, a David Lloyd membership. But I was very unhappy – we both were, really – and rather than stay together because it was safe and the marriage was easy and familiar we both mutually decided to walk away. Him to London to throw himself into creating a successful business and me to I’m-not-quite-sure-what yet. Children and work, work and children.
I can’t even tell you how terrifying that was. I hadn’t been on my own since I was 18, had never lived alone or had to deal with things like bills, Council Tax and insurance. It might sound a but silly but I was really scared of that independence, managing my budgets, knowing who to pay and when. Looking back I can’t believe that I lacked confidence in what would turn out to be one of my favourite household tasks.
Divorce doesn’t have to be sad. We worked through most of our issues before splitting up and then got the anger/sadness out of the way in the first six months. I’d say we’re friends now, though he might disagree, being on the receiving end of phonecalls that consist of “OMG IF YOU DON’T STOP FEEDING OUR CHILDREN SO MANY SWEETS THEIR TEETH WILL GET PULLED OUT” (basically, if you aren’t a fan of overreactions then don’t marry me or let me watch Junk Food kids). Looking back it’s incredible to see how different we both are independently compared with how we were as a couple; I know I feel like a much nicer person, less selfish and more hardworking. I am happy, content. And I say that after a night of broken sleep that culminated in me getting toddler poo on my leg (don’t ask).
The worst thing about the divorce has been the paperwork. Reams of it. And all in centuries-old legal speak… colour me confused. I managed the process without a lawyer, having already worked out finances and chidcare arrangements amicably with the ex and it’s been fine. It must have saved us thousands so we only ended up paying the court fees. Told you I was good at finances!
It feels like a door has firmly closed now and I’m excited about that. Rightly or wrongly I still very much believe in marriage and think it can be a wonderful thing. Divorce has been an experience, one I don’t want to repeat, but I don’t regret anything. It brought me Elfie and Hux, after all. But if I could give myself advice ten years ago it would be this: perhaps don’t believe you know everything there is to know about life and love when you get engaged at 19, eh?