Happy New Year: Hope after Divorce and Dealing with a Crazy Person

I hope it’s okay, on this New Year’s Eve, to cut and paste words from the brilliant and so-lovable Anne Lamott:

There was a cartoon in the New Yorker decades ago, that I’ve never forgotten, of two men chained at the wrists and ankles to the wall, off the ground, in a jail cell, in a cave. One man turns to the other, and says, “Okay, here’s my plan….”

That’s how I feel about the last two weeks of holidays, the days of death by cookie, bad nerves, tight smiles and overwhelm. Doomed, like a prisoner, or space alien, but you know what? Also full of hope.

Hope? What a nut huh?

What a nut. Yes, that’s me. When I tell my story, and people praise me for being strong or brave or positive, I know the truth. I had to be dragged into my battle, kicking and screaming while pretending that nothing was wrong – my marriage was perfect. But opening my ex-husband’s secret email account finally showed me the truth – my marriage was a sham –  2,000 pages of the most awful, perverse, and graphic words in front of me. Words that made divorce attorneys divert their eyes from mine. I couldn’t deny the truth any longer. My ex-husband had been lying to me and gas lighting me for years.

I had to stand up and walk into the light. And then I had to fight for three long years to divorce this man. I had to fight to protect my children from him. I didn’t do it for myself. I did it for my beautiful, innocent children.

And finally when the battle was over, the new crazy started: a new boss, a three-week deadline to fix up my home and sell it, two weeks to find a new home, and then the move, all in the middle of a family wedding and the holidays. At moments, I wanted to quit my job without notice, laugh in the face of my sanctimonious and childless co-worker, send my kids far away to boarding school – or give them away to the first interested person – scream at my real estate agent, and get out of my car at intersections ask drivers why they think it is okay to ignore stop signs. And then climb into bed until it was all over.

But at the same time, something kept propelling me forward. It was knowing that I was making progress – it was hope. Hope for a better life, a new home, success at work, financial security – a new life, peace.

What a nut. Someone who is giddy with hope for 2015 as she sits alone in her new furniture-less house on New Year’s Eve after a 6 pm dinner with friends. But hope is everything – I’ve never felt anything so powerful, except for love.

And talking of love and hope, tonight my friend’s bachelor-for-life brother proposed to his girlfriend. Another divorced friend got a break, a little vacation with her children for a few days, just when she felt she might crack. My brother has mysteriously found the love of his life. A friend-of-a-friend has survived year three of the most awful cancer, the kind that requires countless rounds of chemo and horrible surgeries that remove organs – her own doctor told their mutual friends that she would not survive, but the cancer is now in remission. My own father has survived open heart surgery this year, and now it looks like he will survive prostrate cancer too. Another friend is about to offer a stranger an incredible gift that might give her the second chance she needs in her very difficult life. And my extended family, which has grown apart through the decades, came together this year, bound together first by collective grief and then by the joy of a surprise wedding.

As my friend said tonight, 2015 is going to be wild. Yes, I replied, and interesting and very very mysterious, I am sure.

Happy New Year.

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11 thoughts on “Happy New Year: Hope after Divorce and Dealing with a Crazy Person

  1. I just wanted to thank you for the great posts this past year. Divorce is lonely, but reading your posts have helped me feel like I am not alone in all this and there is hope for the future. Happy New Year!

  2. Yes, friend. Here’s to the hope, love and everything good in this world and the left over cookie waiting for us, the sun shinning on our white faces again, and here is to a year that holds more smiles and laughs than the last. Love yoU!

    –D

  3. This was a wonderful post on hope, hope through the crisis and chaos of divorce. So many times I have wanted to say ‘get me out of here’ and of course there was no-one who heard me and helped me out so I have had to just keep trudging through. I am so glad that you have found some light at the end of your very dark tunnel and even though it is still difficult (new house, no furniture etc), at least you are at last through the tunnel and on your new road towards your new life. I wish you all the joy that freedom along that road will give you. You deserve that.

    • Yes, I think that people who haven’t lived through this don’t understand the chaos – and how we just keep moving forward through it, so exhausted and overwhelmed. I just watched a movie last night, and the father turns to the son and tells him that he has cancer and that they’ll need to take the children out of their private school. (Too close to home for me.) Anyhow, the son cries out, “What will we do?”

      The father says, “What do you mean, ‘What do we do?’ We move forward. It’s the only direction God gave us.”

      I think this says it all. Happy new year, Elizabeth, and I hope that 2015 is a much better and easier year for us recently divorced women!!!

      • The next three to five years will be the testing ground for our strength. At the beginning it was the emotional trauma and then it was the exhaustion of trying to get that signature on that bit of paper. After that (now for you, soon for me) it is the practicalities of what that means … living without a partner … moving home …. depleted assets …. reduced income etc etc. The reality. Nevertheless, hopefully it will become easier as at least the burden of being in no-man’s land will be gone.

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