Saturday, September 27, 2014

On Being Divorced -- part 3

(If you missed the earlier installments you can click here to get caught up.  Thanks!)

Living Divorced is Harder Than Getting Divorced

Getting divorced is tough. There are lawyers, emotions and poor choices that you must juggle.  And not all of them belong to you.  It seems unfair that the one going through the divorce must come to grips with and plow through other people's legal decisions, emotions and poor life choices at the same time.  When there are children involved, the whole thing becomes even more complicated.  I found that there were days that I had to put myself in a time out now and again just to feel and process.  And cry.  Every so often, I would allow myself a good, hearty cry and then strengthen back up to face the rest of the day or the week or the month.  There were cries of sadness, frustration, anger and even happiness.  It's important to acknowledge and feel those times.

After the ink has dried and the papers are filed, there are many unexpected nuances of change and adjustment that occur.  Sometimes it will feel like an avalanche of changes.  Sometimes it will feel like small incremental tweaks to your daily routines and expectations.  And if you are anything like me, then the small incremental changes often seem just as heartbreaking as the big ones.

This is why it is so important to purpose to not make any big decisions or sudden moves until the dust has long settled.  It's easy to make life changes to reflect the new you or to combat the emotional reactions to pain.  Yes, this includes everything from drastically changing your appearance (read as tattoos, piercings etc), tossing your wedding ring into a bonfire, destroying possessions left behind by your former spouse, jumping into a new romance, or moving out of your family home.  I am not suggesting that these things are bad in and of themselves -- well, maybe destroying the other person's things isn't so smart. I am saying that decisions like these are easy to make and easier to regret later. 

Of course, the exact timing of when to make drastic changes is different for everyone because everyone is different when it comes to the grieving process.  Contemplating a big change?  Wait a week or two, gain counsel from someone far enough from the situation to be helpful but close enough to be sympathetic. I am fairly certain that waiting causes fewer regrets in the long run.

I wanted to get rid of my wedding ring set immediately.  I could hardly stand to look at it even while I was still obligated to wear it.  In fact, I took it off and put it back on several times throughout my separation and the actual divorce proceedings.  It had gone from a symbol of love and security to one of hope (that we would be reconciled) to an albatross.  I justified getting rid of it by my fear of financial struggles..  I waited anyway.  Since God has provided in many ways and finances have not been as big of a worry as I feared.  I still have my ring set.  I am not sure what I am going to do with it and since it's in a jewelry box tucked away, I don't even have to think about it for the most part.  I don't regret it sitting in my box.  I may have regretted selling it

Do you know that many people change their signature after a tragedy?  I don't mean that women just go back to their maiden name, though that certainly happens.  I am talking about the way they sign their name to documents.  They make their letters differently or spacing between letters change.  They may add a middle initial where before they ignored that initial.  Or perhaps the signature suddenly shows up with more loops or more angles.  It's often a subconscious attempt to distance themselves from the situation they are going through.

I know this is true for me.  I cross my sevens (and for awhile my zeroes) military style where as I would have never thought of it before getting divorced.  I tried out several new styles of signatures -- some with my maiden name and some with my married name. 

The struggle over the decision to keep my married name or go back to my maiden name was a real one.  I no longer wanted to be identified through my former husband.  I was embarrassed with and ashamed of him.  But I did want to be identified with my children.  In the end, I decided that my revulsion over keeping my former husband's name was trumped by keeping that link with my children.  It may not have been a significant decision in my children's eyes and then again perhaps one day it will be.  For me, it was monumental.  They'd had enough separation -- physical and emotional.  I didn't want to take the chance that severing that tie would become an issue later.

This next statement is not designed to hurt any of my former family members and I am only making it so as to be as transparent as possible:  I felt my last name had been so sullied by my former husband's actions, that it needed to be redeemed.  I felt like I could and should be the person that God could do that through -- for myself and for my children's sake.  I am not claiming to have done everything perfectly.  Please understand that I am well aware of my short comings. Former family members have also allowed God to use them in very wonderful and practical ways.  By their actions, they have been used by God to redeem our last name also.  God has been gracious and I no longer am ashamed to carry my married name.  If I had gone with my initial desire to retake my maiden name, I am certain I would regret it now.  Should there be a remarriage in the future, of course, I would change my last name to that of my new husband. 

And that change, along with many others, would mark a change of joy -- a memorial stone of God's grace.

Counting it all joy,

{for part four, please click here}

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