Welcome! Thanks for joining me on this blog journey about divorce. There’s a lot to talk about…the pain, the devastation, the anger, the children. But today, rather than only focusing on any one of the dozens of difficult (and often totally unwelcome) challenges that divorce brings, I want to talk about a class that I found 11 days after my husband abandoned me and our two small babies without warning. It’s called DivorceCare. I had never heard of it.
It completely changed my life.
Today, 4 years later, I volunteer whatever time I can muster as a single mom to be a part of it. I help facilitate the weekly meetings and provide an understanding ear. I keep in touch with the participants and lend whatever insights I can about what they are going through. I sit and commiserate, or I sit in silence when the tears come. I have to. I am a big believer in paying it forward. I owe this program my sanity, I credit it with the speed and quality of my healing…I owe it my life.
I’ve said it a hundred times, and I’ll say it again: I don’t know how anyone goes through a divorce without DivorceCare. For myself and nearly everyone I’ve spoken to, there is a common theme: while there’s a planet-sized thundercloud of erratic emotions raging on the inside, on the outside we have to keep it all together. We have to go to work and pretend that we aren’t about to lose it. We have to put on – and keep on – a brave face for the children. We have to run the household on half the income and 1/3 the sleep, and we have no idea how on earth we are going to survive this day, let alone the next.
Friends and family are a resource that should be leaned on, but try as they might, many of them will have no idea of the depth of your pain if they haven’t been through it personally. That’s why DivorceCare felt like a cold drink of water in the desert. I found a group of people that spoke my unique language of pain, and no one there urged me to just ‘get on with my life’ or ‘get over it’ as can happen with well-meaning – but misinformed – loved ones.
It seems as though everyone’s been duped into believing that you get a divorce on a Friday, and on Monday everyone is supposed to be successfully co-parenting and setting up new dating profiles. This harmful notion – that divorce is merely an unfortunate but easily surmountable event – makes those suffering through it feel even more inadequate. We’re given a deadline for grieving the worst thing we’ve ever experienced, and if we miss that deadline it must be because some weakness in us is to blame. It simply does not work that way. At all.
I had no idea about the degree of pain that I would experience during my divorce. I was alive in the sense that I was breathing in and out, but I felt completely disconnected from life. I drifted through my days in a haze. One minute numb, the next devastated and sobbing uncontrollably in crippling pain. And when the anger would cycle through on top of all of that, I felt as though I finally understood the notion of ‘seeing red’. I was not myself, and had no earthly idea of who that even was anymore. My sense of safety, of self, of the future, of home, of family – all had been shattered into jagged pieces…and I firmly believed they could never be put back together again.
I had two small babies in diapers counting on me 24/7. My husband moved to the opposite coast for an affair partner; I didn’t have the luxury of losing it. But with every cell in my body, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs ‘I can’t DO this!!’ I didn’t sleep, I barely ate. For more nights than I can count, I sat staring out the window for so long that the black would begin to fade to light blue. And before I could even clean up the mountain of tear-filled tissues and figure out how I was going to get through another day with no sleep, one of the babies would cry and need of me.
DivorceCare slowly but surely helped me regain my sense of safety, of self, of home, and of family again – all based on sound biblical promises and the amazing advice that I gleaned from the video series and facilitators. No, the pieces never went back together in the exact same way again, but I’ve come to realize that that’s okay. Some things in life change you permanently, but it does not mean you have to remain broken.
During the darkest and most excruciating time of my life, DivorceCare was truly a lifeline. If you have recently separated or divorced, or if you divorced years ago but still struggle with lasting emotional wounds, DivorceCare is for you. Find a group near you, and go. And when you feel like climbing in your bed and missing a session (and you likely will), pray for the strength to pull on your shoes and get there anyway. When you have faith in the process, it will pay off for you in so many ways.
Yes, you will have to take my word for it that it’s worth it and yes, you will have to make the decision in the dark…but isn’t that what faith is all about?
If you’re in the San Diego area, come join us at Skyline Church on Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 in room 409. Or, check out divorcecare.org and enter your zip code to find a class near you.
Thanks for reading! Next week, please join us for another installation entitled ‘Anger: the Red Flower.’