Updated: Mar 10, 2021
I remember the day my husband left me with surreal clarity. It’s been eight years to the day this week, and that’s not a short space of time. I find it hard to remember what I ate for dinner last night, things I did last month or even holidays I went on in the last two years, yet I can remember a single day that took place eight years ago like it was yesterday. I guess some moments in life will stay ingrained in our memories forever. These are the moments that define us, that shaped a new path for us, that broke us, that shattered our reality, and even those that brought us the biggest joys in our lives (like the birth of our children or the day we graduated). But the thing that knits these moments together is the fact that it meant we had to shed our old skins and embrace a newer version of ourselves.
My ex-husband took the decision to walk away from me and our one and half year-old daughter, and let me tell you, it was HARD! Divorce is hard, it’s one of those things I don’t wish on my worst enemy. It’s something that can make or break you (for a period at least). It leaves a sadness, a void, a sense of purposelessness that nothing and no-one can fill. And when your spouse is the one that made the decision to throw in the towel on the sacred union that is your marriage, it leaves you questioning everything you have known for however long you were married. You question your so-called love for each other, you question the honesty you had between each other, you question your intimacy and you can even question the fidelity in the marriage. But the biggest thing you question is your sense of self and your worthiness to be loved and chosen. You doubt yourself; you doubt everyone in your life and you can become mistrusting and even jaded.
The post-divorce journey
In my journey post-divorce (which is ongoing) I found that a fundamental human need is that of being validated, and in our marriage our sense of being a couple and having that husband by our side, being the picture-perfect family was enough to fill the need to be validated. So, when it’s pulled from under our feet how do we pick up the pieces? How do we find ourselves again without being on autopilot? Because let me tell you, the minute my ex walked out the door I immediately went into autopilot - I stopped crying, picked myself up and continued to be the strong mother that my daughter needed me to be, immediately. I refused to face myself, I refused to slow down, I refused to face my reality until I absolutely had to. And when I did, what followed was colossal in terms of growth and change, but it unfolded so slowly and painfully that the process felt unbearable at times.
The process of healing after a divorce is different for every single person, much like any experience in life because our individuality is what makes us human. We will all choose different ways to heal, be it therapy, family, friends, work, play or even packing up and escaping to another country. What I did find consistently with previously divorced women, is the willingness to help another woman in the same position.
Every single woman that had been through a divorce prior to me was always willing to help, to listen, to be a friend, or to just be. I found that what I gained after my divorce was finding a wolfpack of divorced women that were willing to listen to me whenever I needed them to, that allowed me to cry, that allowed me to feel my feelings and that understood exactly what I had been through, because, trust me, not everyone will understand the myriad of feelings that you go through unless they have been through it themselves. These women are my wolfpack.
They are women that have been thrown into the wild and have come out not leading the pack (no-one wants to be the divorce aficionada) but banding together, forming a bond and supporting each other through thick and thin! A group to be reckoned with and feared, a group of women so diverse it could make you laugh just thinking of them being together in the same room, and a group of women that don’t even know each other because our interactions have been private and one-on-one for the most part. These women have the ability to simultaneously be going through the hardest parts of their own divorce, or parts of their divorce that are previously unchartered by them, but they are there for each other and will stop immediately to listen, help, call, check in on and support someone else they know is going through what they have been through. They are the people that, even when their cup is near empty, will gladly and unselfishly give you a few drops to help you fill yours.
The thing about becoming a divorcee is that it opens your eyes to all the prejudices that are directed at divorced women. Prejudices that, if not divorced, you don’t even know you have or wouldn’t even dream exist. It is precisely for this reason that you will find other divorced women stepping up to the plate to help you navigate through all of this.
Finding your people
How you find your pack will vary: it might be a friend you already have, someone you meet on Instagram or Facebook, a friend of a friend or someone that will suddenly turn up out of the blue. I have met one of my dearest friends through divorce. Prior to that we were acquaintances who might not have even liked each other that much as teenagers. I was in the doldrums and wallowing in self-pity when I heard through mutual friends that this firecracker of a woman was also recently divorced and had a daughter (same as me). Call it providence, God’s hand or my inner voice, but one random afternoon I got hold of her mobile number and called her to ask her about her experience and just chat about what we were both going through. What followed was a rather awkward first date over sushi (with our little girls in tow), one or two other getting-to-know-you coffee dates, and eventually it led to the building of the foundation of what is now one of my dearest friendships.
We are like chalk and cheese in terms of personality; one of our only commonalities, at the time, being recently divorced and a single mom. If you look at us today, you will still see chalk and cheese but what you will miss, is that we have a deep respect for each other, an unshakeable bond and we have traversed the path of divorce together, and continue to do so even eight years later. Our lives have both taken such different paths – she’s now happily married and has a beautiful big blended family and has managed to navigate that with the same dignity and strength that I know her for, and which she used to navigate her divorce. As for me, I’ve had my ups and downs and have tested the waters with “new love” as well (something I’ll talk about another time), but I’m also really busy being a mom, working hard and pursuing my other passions which, had I not gotten divorced, I would never have found. This being said, we don’t chat every day any more, we have new friends in different circles, we hardly even see each other anymore (thanks Covid), but I know I can always pick up the phone and lean on her in my worst moments and have her celebrate my best moments (of which there have been many as well in the past eight years too). Divorce helped me find ‘my person’ and that’s not something a die-hard Grey’s Anatomy fan would say of just anyone.
Support and encouragement
I’ve spoken to, and continue to speak to so many women going through the different stages of divorce and I always try to help and offer an unbiased opinion or advice that I thought helpful to me. I try to guide them towards resources I’ve found helpful (articles, various therapies, legal consultants, or even fitness classes to help get rid of some of our pent up anger). There are many different phases, feelings and steps when navigating a divorce, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that finding someone you can trust and talk to along the way is one of the first ones you can take and will hopefully lead you to be able to get through it all with a lighter heart and fuller soul. You will always find an open door with fellow divorcees. We’ve got your back, we want to see you come out of this stronger, with dignity and with a sense of self-worth that no-one will be able to break. There is so much hate out in the world, and we, women, need to band together and lift each other up; we need to teach and preach love and we need to know we have a safe space to land if and when we do fall. Here’s hoping this website will help women find their wolfpack of and connect with each other on many levels.
Love and Light,