They say there are stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. So far my divorce has been nothing like this. Maybe because a lot of it isn’t really about grief and loss, it’s about having to navigate a whole new set of expectations. But I can chart how my journey has gone so far and it’s looked something like this.
Stage 1: Anguish Epic awful-ness. Sadness that is too big to manage. All-consuming failure.
Stage 2: Shallow Obsessions Divorce is a stigma. Everyone will see me as a failure. What about my ring? It’s so beautiful, I’ll miss it so much. Should I save it for one of the kids? Is it too tainted to pass on? Should I change my name? That’ll be a lot of paperwork. What should I make my relationship status on Facebook?
Stage 3: Anger The road ahead of me is so long and there are so many hurdles I have to jump through and this wasn’t my choice and I am stuck with all of this and it’s NOT FAIR. I don’t deserve this. I spent years sacrificing for a family that no longer exists. I gave up my career and it was all for nothing. I am not the person I would have been! I don’t have the options I once did! Why??!!
Stage 4: Empowerment Reset button! Time to build my life into what I want it to be! No more sacrificing my own path! I am a powerful, independent woman!! Hear me roar!!
Stage 5: Crotchety-ness I hate everyone who complains about putting their kids to bed with no help. And everyone who complains about parenting solo for *gasp* a whole week. I hate everyone who is happily married. Especially the ones who wish their spouse Happy Anniversary on Facebook. I just hate all the people. All of them.
Stage 6: Disillusionment I get to start a new job! Oh wait, I have to find a new job. I will get to start dating again! Oh man, I’ll have to start dating again. I’ll get past this, the decree will be final, and it will all be over! Oh boy, it’s going to take a long time for this to be over.
Stage 7: Terror I don’t have a job. I don’t have money coming in. It’s a few more weeks until the court steps in to decide how the money stuff will work and I don’t know what will happen. The amount of child support may not even cover my rent. I don’t know if I’ll get any alimony. I don’t know how long it will be before I work again. I’m not eligible for unemployment benefits because I haven’t worked full-time in nearly 2 years. My need is not quite the specific kind of dire that defers my student loan payments. I have no income and a bunch of bills. I could lose the apartment. I could lose the kids. I could end up alone living in a box. I could end up living with my parents.
…and that’s about where I am right now. I can keep the terror at bay most of the time. We are going to be in a courtroom, there will be the opportunity to present my situation. I just don’t know exactly how it will go and what the temporary rules will be. And then there’s all the time it will take to set the final rules and I don’t know how much it’ll take out of me and how much I’ll lose and how much I’ll get and how it will all fit together.
I am realizing that this is a marathon. I’m probably somewhere around mile 4. It’s not going to be a smooth, flat road like I hoped it would be, either. Turns out there’s a reason everyone tells you how much divorce sucks. Because it really does suck.