Friday, November 12, 2010
Divorce, the Death of a Marriage. How Do You Find Closure?
I have experienced divorce from my first husband of fifteen years. I have been remarried for twenty-one years and it is a good marriage. My first marriage the last three or four years were really bad. We were way too young when we married, and we neither had good examples of what marriage is all about. In fact we had horrible examples of what marriage is. We were going to be different. We were going to have a happy healthy marriage. That is really hard to do if you never learned how. We both drank and when I quit my ex-husband didn't. He became abusive and terrifying. We had three kids together and they were going through hell too.
If I had it to do over again I would have handled it differently. Unfortunately we don't get a second chance. I did know that if I left him he would stalk me. I also didn't have as much control over the damage that my kids would go through. Back then there wasn't that much protection for women and children. It wasn't until the Lisa Bianco incident where her husband came out of jail without her knowing about it, and he bludgeoned her to death, that the laws began to change. I knew that he would also have visitation rights and he would have them on weekends. I shuddered to think about what they would go through. The court said that I had to let him have visitation unless they refused. They loved their dad and as children of alcoholics they had a loyalty to him that overshadowed their own safety.
When I would call the police when he would come over to the house, after he left me, they wouldn't come over until after the damage was done. They were pretty much useless. When I said I wanted to press charges the
policeman said I would have to go to a neighboring town to press charges. This meant leaving work, and going way out of my way, losing money from work. I did this and when I filed my complaint they informed me that he would be warned not to do it again. Nothing happened to him except he got a warning. He broke in my bathroom and backhanded me, and knocked the telephone out of my hand. He roared around inside my house and I had to leave with my terrified little girl. My sons felt guilty because they let him in the house and didn't call the cops when he refused to leave.
When he moved in with his girlfriend, her kids and our kids were exposed to things that no one should have to be exposed to. She committed suicide later after beatings, intimidation and hopelessness. She was only in her late twenties.
I am getting off of track. I have talked to others who have experienced both divorce and death of a spouse. I told this lady that I hadn't experienced the loss of a husband not through death but through divorce. So I couldn't tell her that I knew what she was going through. She informed me that death was easier. Why?
Think about this. When a spouse dies there is dignity. Usually, I am not saying this is always the case. But in general when a spouse dies, there is closure. There is a funeral, and people are sympathetic. People are offering condolences. You have support the death is through no fault of your own.
When you go through a divorce, there is a sense of failure, even if it was not your fault. It is the death of a dream. There are all the messy situations afterward. The heartbreak of seeing them with someone else. I remember the first time my ex pulled in the driveway with his girlfriend. She was sitting all cozy next to him. The kids felt guilty and sad, and were trying to protect me from the pain. It wasn't their place but they still felt bad and were trying to deal with their own pain and sadness. I felt like my heart was going to break. I literally felt raw with pain.
You have to see them and it is like a vital organ has been torn from your body. In the Bible there is a verse that says that when a man and woman marry they become as one flesh. I know what they mean after experiencing divorce.
This is just a brief synopsis of what happened and how divorce affected me. I know that not all divorces are that dramatic. I know some are worse. What I am suggesting is that if you go through a divorce or if you are close to someone who is hurting from one, that there are things that you can do to help with closure. Of course you want people who are sympathetic with you and not blaming you for it. Even if you are to blame you need support.
I think it would be good to have a gathering. I wouldn't want to call it a party. Something where you have some family and friends, hopefully someone close to you would do it for you. It would be similar to a funeral or
a wake. You could have pictures of you and your spouse and even the children if you feel it is appropriate. Talk about your feelings and maybe even bury a photo of the two of you together. I don't suggest getting rid of all your mementos. That is a part of your life, and hopefully you will be able in the future to look back on some of the good times. You just need something symbolic to help you through the grief process.
I never did this, but I look back and think that it would have been a great healing ritual for me to have something like this. People often avoid you because they don't know what to say to you. This would give all a chance to heal. I know having had friends who divorced it was very difficult because I grieved over the loss of them as a couple too. It is especially difficult if one seems to be gleefully enthused about the divorce and has moved on to greener pastures at least in their own minds. The other one may still be inconsolable with grief and you feel anger toward the one who is insensitive to the others pain.
I am interested in what you think about this idea. If you think it is stupid please tell me. If you have found ways that have worked for you please share them. I think that it would help many people who have or are experiencing this very devastating loss.