So I’m almost 11 months into a separation. I met my soon to be ex-husband when I was 21 and have shared all my life changing experiences with him. I bought my first home, traveled, had the fairy tale wedding and 2 children with this man. He was my rock when I became estranged from my family and when I became disabled. But now this next life changing experience is one I must do without him.
When the news first got around, I prepared myself for the questions, the sympathy, the joy from the mean girls and the gossip. Friends checked on me to see if I needed anything but to be honest I went into autopilot and just kept calm and carried on. The first stage of grief is denial and isolation. Our separation happened to coincide with being selected to stand for the most recent local election. I was selected just days after we decided to call it a day. I went to my first conference whilst he was flat hunting and when I came back he moved out. I then threw myself into my campaign and volunteering to fill the void. Pushed my body too far and spent most nights in physical pain and in tears just to try and feel something and I did this all alone.
My friends soon went back to living their lives, having babies, getting engaged, buying a house and I put on fake smiles and congratulated my friends. I put on a brave face but inside I felt numb. Gradually happiness turned into emptiness, even being a mother became difficult. Generally I hate being on my own, but I have over the months isolated myself mainly because I didn’t want to drag anyone else down.
Stage 2 is anger and boy did that hit me hard. Anger that my time wasn’t being valued mainly. Anger that I would go to meetings and nothing would be achieved. Anger that I felt I wasn’t being listened to. Anger that the BT vans were constantly parking incorrectly on my street. Anger that people weren’t recognising the pain I was in. Anger that I wasn’t getting any support. Anger that people were patronising me. Anger when I heard suck it up you’re not the only single mum out there. Anger that he moved on so quickly and that he now wants the kids to meet her. Anger that I hadn’t found anyone. Anger that I lost the election when I felt I was the better candidate. Anger that I was being misunderstood…you get the point, I was very angry.
Now at this point if you know anyone going through a divorce please I ask you to take a step back and realise that this anger is part of the process and don’t make things worse for that person. Don’t ask others if they’ve noticed a change in him/her, ask that person directly if they need anything. When I was going through this stage I felt the whole world was against me, conspiring to take me down. I was in fight mode because I felt the people around me weren’t giving me breathing space. I needed time to just stand outside in that soft warm rain and just feel it on my skin. Instead it was a storm and I was trapped in a never ending cycle of pain anger and then being judged.
Apparently then there is normally bargaining, not sure I went through that to be honest I think I just went to the final stage before acceptance and this is where I am now trapped. That stage is depression. It’s now harder to wake up and get out of bed. I feel sluggish and like a massive weight is pushing down on my chest. I have chronic fatigue anyway but this is beyond that. I do still laugh and have moments of happiness but they don’t last long. Life generally feels hard. I have incredible friends in my life which makes up for the absence of a family support network and I recognise that but I still feel incredibly alone in the world. I cry at least once every day and have had thoughts of not being here. My mind will drift off to a place of wondering if anyone would feel a loss if I wasn’t here. Those that turned on me during my anger stage still linger about to put the boot in but I’m no longer in fight mode, I’m already mentally defeated. But they are still kicking me anyway. Close friends have also given up and walked away. They can’t understand why I am not over this yet, why I can’t move on. If I can’t understand why, then how the hell can they expect that they can understand it? My 10 year plan now looks like someone else’s plan, my plan is now just get through the day. If I didn’t set reminders on my phone for everything I wouldn’t even know what day of the week it is.
The only times that I have clarity is when I am in work mode. When I switch into a different person and do the tasks I need to do. When there is structure. It’s how I still manage to produce my orders and keep my business ticking, it’s how I still manage to speak on the radio or to the media for my ongoing projects. It’s how I can still campaign and funnily enough it’s when I don’t feel the overwhelming pain in my chest. But then once the task is finished, the dark heavy cloud comes back and so do the tears. I have probably been at this stage since May, since I lost my election and it’s now where I’m trapped. I feel like a lost soul in Purgatory where I punish myself for not being good enough. Not being good enough to keep my marriage, not being good enough to win my election, not being good enough as a mother. The never ending cycle of self-hate.
But right now as I am writing this I think I may be able to see a little bit of light shining through, just a small amount. I looked in the mirror on Friday and liked what I saw looking back. A rarity for me as I have always hated my appearance. I have stopped scratching my own face and that area is clearing up and I am preparing myself for taking my children away on my own for a small summer break. I am even applying for jobs. Applying for jobs is a hard one when you are under this cloud as you have to sell yourself. Incredibly hard when you think very little of yourself, but there is a job I know I would be really good at so I spent a good week working on my CV so it best reflected the true me and not this temporary me. I have also accepted that I may not be able to get through this stage without help and have sought out counselling and medication as a temporary measure to help me find my way back to me.
Most importantly, I have finally opened up to the people around me and told them I’m not ok actually and allowed people to offer their support. With all these measures in place and with the realisation of what it is that is going on, I am hopeful that this dark cloud will soon be lifted and I will then reach the final stage of this grieving which is acceptance.