A Backward Glance While Moving Forward

Reading a number of blogs this morning, I was struck by one headline. “Sometimes your decisions are not yours to make…” by The Reluctant Mom’s Blog. While I love reading all the funny pieces, I also appreciate those that provoke thought.

You decide to have children. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. This decision absolutely changes the course of your life.

You decide to marry, divorce, be a star, buy a house, go to church, take a huge risk, never make any decisions. And, although you believe you know what you are getting into, you don’t. So I think we make choices, which turn into decisions after the fact. Some good, others great, bad, and middle of the road.  Going a bit further, perhaps decisions are the consequences of our choices.  And, regardless of the outcome, those of us who have the freedom to make choices are the lucky ones.

It would not seem so, if we only focus on the mayhem induced by a bad choice or three. But I believe in scale, yin and yang, reasoning. So I have to say that although the end product of our choices can be our worst nightmares, we still had a part in it.

When I made the choice to divorce some years ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I was acutely aware of what I was getting myself out of. And no matter what anyone else thinks, divorce is, to quote a friend, “like being in a bad car wreck every single day”.  Those days, whether they span a week, a year, a lifetime, are indescribably atrocious. Individually and collectively.  I would not wish divorce on any couple I know. But sometimes it is necessary.

My ex is a good person. We have two daughters, two very bright stars, to mark the absolute best that came from our union. And I will never, ever be sorry for getting married because these two girls make the world a better place to live in. 

It has been my experience, personally and from observation, that when the woman initiates a divorce, she is the bad cop. Of course there are many exceptions, but I’ve not witnessed more than a few. As the saying goes, “it takes two”, but, in an effort to make sense of it, most friends and frenemies feel they must choose sides, fuel the rumor mill, and unintentionally make the aftershock of divorce so much worse than it needs to be. Choices, all. My exposure.

To make a long story short, the personal gains have far outweighed the losses. And I am not the same person I was. During, after, and since my divorce, I chose to be misunderstood. I am a private person and the inability to remain married was strictly between me and my ex. The toll was heavy in every way. But everything comes with a price to pay. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Divorce scares the hell out of couple friends. It forces them to look at their own situation. And they don’t want to catch the disease. After the implosion of family, I think the hardest, most heartbreaking consequence was the loss of lifelong friends. Individual and couples. While they remained at the top of my grid, they quickly filed me in their “out” boxes. No longer a “couple”, a member of their clubs, a part of their gatherings.  After my family, my friends have always been the most important people in my life.  I was naïve. Loyalty is a given if I’m your friend.  Had no idea they would divorce me.  But good always comes from terrible.

There were the handful of friends who did not waver, who will always have my back. And, I have made so many new and strong alliances with amazing people I might have missed along the way. I now know what it’s like to be truly loved. I am not naïve about people any longer. While I still enjoy the occasional celebration with “the old gang”, I must admit that afterwards I usually wonder why I spent so much time mourning their disappearance. And it always comes back to the same conclusion: I believed them to be people they weren’t. My bad. But my good, because my life now is richer because of the people who are in it.

There will always be those days when my heart sinks, just for a minute. And that is awesome. Hearing about the activities and stirrings of my old life, still raging like a freight train with a full tank of gas, used to send me to bed for … however long. Getting that puppy down to a minute is progress, folks.

Even if it’s made one tiny step at a time. “Sometimes your decisions are not yours to make ….”. But it’s what you do with the consequences. This, in my mind, is what determines the wiggly course of your life. Dealing, learning, overcoming, changing, trying … all survival buzz words.



25 thoughts on “A Backward Glance While Moving Forward

  1. What a lovely post, izziedarling. I can imagine your pain, and I also celebrate your journey into being more of who you are and towards what you love.
    Sunshine x

    • Thank you, sunshine. Have been trying to get that out for a while but required too much bloodletting. Yes, celebrate … to do otherwise would be a waste, now wouldn’t it? Cheers!

  2. “Sometimes your decisions are not yours to make ….”. But it’s what you do with the consequences. Thanks. I really needed to hear that today. : ) I was the bad cop too, but for me it also led to a transformation and I’m more “me” today than I ever was and am thankful for that.

  3. Yeah, we’re just so wicked, aren’t we? Ha! Glad you found what you needed to hear. Transformation is so hellish but purifying, don’t you think?

  4. Hi izziedarling:

    I am loving getting to know you! My ex and I split 13 years ago (I initialized it), and are legally still married (will be starting divorce once Jim is finished getting his done)…it was really bad at the beginning, but we have come to an amicable understanding now. We managed to stay friends through it all, and I still care what happens to him. I didn’t really experience any loss of friends, because we hadn’t made friends as a couple…we mostly hung out with people I knew. However, I do miss my ex’s brother and his family – I tried to visit them with a new boyfriend a few years ago (before Jim), but he thought he would be disloyal to his brother if I came to see them. I also loved my former father-in-law, who died last year.

    I’m definitely a different person than I was when I was married…I was strong then, but I’m 10x stronger now!


    • Wendy – I assure you, the feeling is very mutual. Wow, I guess the divorce process is different in Canada. My ex and I had that “nice” kind of divorce where you sit next to each other and the lawyers are across the table. Very civilized, compared to what some friends have been through. I wouldn’t wish anything bad on him or his family. And it was and is very important to me to “model” good behavior, no matter what. Was married 20 years, have been divorced 5. I would say 7/8ths of our couple friends were my friends before I married. Not very good friends afterall, eh? I was later told that by voluntarily leaving the “lifestyle” I had, I’d subconciously insulted those who remained. How ironic? I’m completely ripped to shreds and they are insulted? No matter how painful it all was, to be free has been best. Gosh, you got me on a roll, there, Wendy. Anway *massive hugs*

  5. We’re watching a couple we know go through a divorce. It isn’t the “nice” kind of divorce you’re talking about. It’s ugly. It’s hell on them, and it’s hell on the kids. I think your post gives us some insight that’s going to help us help them. Thanks.

    • If anything I’ve said helps, then I’m glad I wrote it. You, Todd, are a true friend to want to be of help. As is your wife, I’m sure. I interviewed a number of therapists for my children beforehand. I found a woman that kept everything between her and my youngest confidential and she was a great help to all. Hopefully the couple will see that it’s hard and bad enough, without putting “fresh hell” into it. Bless all of you.

  6. Easily the best post I have read in a LONG time! Went through many of the same emotions myself after my first marraige. Great job!

  7. Greetings from a fellow bad cop. 🙂 I have to say, this most excellent post held me tight in it’s grasp, having been through the same thing recently. The old saying “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a huge understatement when it comes to separation and divorce. I was married (still am) 21 years, have been separated 2.4, and am currently in the final throws. Just like I always heard… the friends that have ‘stayed’ throughout this are proven true ones. You sound like a true joy to know, izziedarling… and many congrats to you for coming out on the ‘other side’ being the bright, beautiful, WHOLE person that you are.

    • Hey Bad Bon … That “kill you/make you stronger” deal worked for a bit; then I had to look at the heavens and say, “I DO NOT WANT TO BE ANY STRONGER, IT’S WEARING ME OUT!” It takes great strength you didn’t know you had to take that step. Know many who have their foot poised over the doorstep but can’t pull the trigger. Thank you for sharing your situation … and I am so glad to “know” you. Really!

  8. I really enjoy this post. Very insightful-

  9. If there is one thing my mom taught me, it’s how to divorce well. She still loves both of her ex-husbands (my sister’s father and my father) and would never say a bad word about them in front of us.
    I recently had to make a decision that wasn’t really a decision at all. It was one of those things that if I didn’t do it, I would have caused myself real emotional harm, but doing it was the hardest thing I have done. Luckily, everything has turned out very well.
    I love your friend’s quote that going through a divorce is “like being in a bad car wreck every single day.” I haven’t gone through a divorce, but I can understand that feeling very well. That’s exactly how it feels to be married to an alcoholic who’s in the middle of destroying himself.
    Excellent post!

  10. Hey Amy! Your mom sounds like a very wise woman. And a very good model for her daughters. That was a huge thing with me, that my daughters not believe that their parents’ situation was the norm. And I know exactly what you are talking about when you said you did what you did b/c it would otherwise cause you real emotional harm. No one else can save you and I am so, so glad you have saved yourself. I’m glad everything is going well. And please know I’m sorry, really sorry, for what you have gone through. That disease, the addiction, is wretched and I see it go both ways for the addict every single day. Take care of yourself. You rock.

  11. I’ll join the Bad Cop club… biggest slap for me-when my mother blamed me, then went on to say she worried about what people would say about HER (?, geez). It is rough and like you I absolutely know I did the best thing-FOR ME. And, that’s about taking care of my own needs and understanding my own value. We remain civil and all is OK.
    It’s tough and I’m now ending a relationship of 16 months, not all that long but long enough for it to be ‘icky’.
    I’m glad you shared this, however painful, it helps others who feel isolated. Thank you.

  12. Thanks, w. It does help to know you’ve got “company” out there. Sorry for what you are going through now, certainly am thinking about you. Unfortunately, your “mother” comment says it all … you are imploding, she doesn’t want the shards to touch her. When I told well-meaning friend what I was doing, she said, “What about the country club?” Access to a golf course, pool, tennis courts vs. survival? Really? Take care.

  13. Devastating life experiences definitely have a way of weeding out the bad and finding who your true friends and family are.But if you’re lucky then you have at least one to lean on and it sounds like you’ve got a few. 🙂

  14. Thank you for posting this, Izzie.

    I’ve been dreading divorce for years, esp. as it has appeared to be inevitable. I’m the husband in this case, and I’m “initiating” the divorce, I suppose, but we’re divorcing because my wife simply won’t participate in the marriage. I can’t keep up the conversation (or dance, or whatever metaphor you prefer) alone any longer.

    Your post gives voice to some of what I’ve been fearing, but also to some hope, as well. You mentioned in a comment above that you know some who have their foot poised over the threshold. That’s been me. For years. And now, I’m moving forward. It’s scary as hell. And truth be told… I still love my wife. I expect that fear has kept her from walking out on me (she, alas, does not love me “in that way”), and I worry that she will likewise be perceived as the bad cop even though I’m the one initiating the divorce, and even though I refuse to say anything bad about her in public (my pseudonymous blog being a secret possible exception, depending upon how you read it.)

    I worry about what this divorce will do to her. I worry about whether she will be able to cope. But, what I’ve come to realize is, I’m even more worried about what will happen to me (and, in fact, to her) if I were to try to stick in this marriage much longer.

    So, yeah, I dread the price that I anticipate we will be paying. I just hope that, when all is said and done, it’ll make for better days ahead. For both of us. I’m coming to believe that there’s a real chance that it will.

  15. in response to it never rains in seattle…
    When we divorced, my husband announced it to all our friends, together, telling them that we were of ‘like’ minds on the divorce. Not really the truth but a very nice thing.
    And, while it was difficult, the end result was easing of stress, growth and an ability to see myself for who I really am. I had the same realization that you do, of what damage I was doing to myself by continuing in the marriage…
    While there are always regrets and thoughts of what might have been and the loss of an envisioned future, it sounds that in your case there is no other option. Best of luck and thanks for sharing the story; you sound like a good person.

  16. (Jem lyric:) “It’s a ride, it’s just a ride….”

    You know how you meet people, and sometimes you run into someone you just… KNOW, somehow? I figure they’re one of my krewe. Me and my krewe were all hanging out in the lobby, picking out what our world would be like this go-around. Let’s see, I’m going to grow up in a teeny town, go from uber poor to well off, lose substantial loved ones along the way. This guys’s gonna be the star athlete that ends up a quad. That gal’s going to end up with alzheimers, and her friend is going to go through as her granddaughter and see what her ride will be like taking care of her. Our other friend Bob is going to start off completely separated from the rest of us on the other side of the world and see if he can dig and claw and find his way back to the fold. And this one’s going to go through not being able to communicate, but just experience everything…. and we’ll all find each other eventually of course. (Well, except maybe for Bob.) Then we’ll go again. (Next time Bob plans to be a rockstar that has everything, but is empty until it’s all lost and then figures out it’s not about the things but rather about the people. He could use a little pampering and extravagance after having grown up on grubworms last go-round.)

    (Or not. I haven’t eaten yet today, is it starting to show? *snort*)

    Arighty Krewe… Everyone Ready? Set? GO!

    (Hi, friend.) 🙂

  17. OH! Hiya Seattle Rains! 🙂

    Dearie, you are an all right kind of cat– and deep down you already know that sometimes the kindest thing is to cut bait and move on. For both of you. And the wee bairns. The heart aches ’cause it’s still working. And that’s goodness. 🙂 *hugs*

  18. Oh, geaux, you’re the best! *hugs back at you x 2*

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