Getting Divorced and Surviving the Shit Storm
Now, 4 years out from my divorce I have more that I want to share and say, so I am beginning this series and committing to helping anyone who wants some guidance from the other side. I promise you it gets better, and I promise you you will survive the shit storm.
I first wrote a how-to article on getting divorced in 2019, where I outlined the steps that helped me through my divorce, which can be found here:
I had hundreds of people who found this online who reached out to me, commenting on it and asking for more insights. Long story short, my website crashed and I lost all of the beautiful comments, but I saved the article and moved it over to this new platform where I'm now writing again!
The thing about divorce is that its a death. A death of something promised, the death of a dream. The death of a commitment. The death of whatever hope I still held onto that things would work out. It was also the death of some of my faith- faith in the Christian church and how they instructed me to stay committed, to serve him, to love him through all of his stages, to hold on even when it was harmful to me. It’s that piece of it, the piece that felt harmful to me that is so hard to let go of.
I just don’t think that anyone can tell you to stay or go. I believe in marriage, I do. I believe in love and forgiveness and change. We all have opportunities daily to choose our path and make our own choices.
For me, a very negative shift happened when I went to biblical counseling at a local church to try and figure out why things between him and I were so bad, so hard. I was in the middle of a very messy situation and I couldn’t see the forest from the trees, as they say. I needed help. I found some people who graciously took us in and didn’t even charge us. I know they really tried to navigate the situation as best they could. I know they didn’t mean to harm me. Now looking back, I'm out of the forest. I can see the trees.
Here’s what I was told:
When my husband wouldn’t even speak to me or look at me or engage with me, I was told to just focus on if he said “hi” to me that day. If he said “hi” or looked at me when he came home then I should count it as a blessing and write it down in a journal to help encourage me that there were good things happening every day and not to give up. I was told that this was like the "manna from heaven", that God gave to the Israelites in the desert to keep them going. For you non- Vacation Bible School church kids, let me explain this story to the best of my memory.
When the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years, wandering around and also trying to find the promised land, God sent down Manna from heaven which was daily food. It was some type of nutritional substance that filled them up and satisfied them, but it would go bad every day, so they couldn't store any of it or it would rot. They had to just eat what they needed for the day, trusting that more would fall down from heaven the very next morning. From my understanding, it was all about trust in God. It was a lesson in not being greedy or wanting too much. It was a daily gift from their provider, God. For those Israelites who tried to store any up, it would stink and rot and get maggots. So basically it would alert everyone else of your greediness and untrusting nature if you tried to store any up. The only exception was in preparation for the Sabbath (the 7th day of the week). God somehow made it so that one could store an extra day's worth on the 6th day without it rotting. Because he's God and is magical. That all tracks and I'm good with magic.
Now let's look at the connection between the Manna and my situation. It was asked of me to look at my husbands poor excuse of loving me or paying any attention to me and our small son as a gift from heaven. As if an angry "hello" from a man that didn't want to be married to me anymore, who was bitter, wanting to leave and making that known daily, should cause me to fall on my knees in gratitude that he hadn't left me yet. I was invited to keep a diary of any little small thing he did, like the hellos, to help bring me back to gratitude. I was invited to essentially encourage myself (ie: convince myself) that it was all good. I was invited to have his angry hellos be enough for me. If they weren't then there was a problem in my own nature. If it wasn't enough for me, then maybe I should journal more. Maybe I should pray more. Maybe I should trust more. Have a little faith, Meg! God's got this!
A bitter hello, less kindness than one would show a stranger; as if that would be enough to fill me up for that day. God forbid I be greedy and want more.
God forbid that I would want a partner who pursued healthy choices for him, us or our son on any level because that would be me not being grateful for what I had. Would I stand against this man that God provided for me and who I committed to?
No, for heaven's sake I would just suck it all up and shove all of my needs deep down inside until they were so deep that I could not feel or see anymore. And I simply would pray all of the bad feelings away because God is in control, right? And he works everything out for the good of those who love him, right?
And after all, a woman is supposed to serve her man and it's my job to stay at home with our son anyway, right? And love conquers all, right?
That is not a joke. Those were literal words said to me in a conversation where 100 other things that I brought up should have been red flags and cause for alarm, but I was told to basically suck it up and understand that I just needed to be thankful for him saying one word to me. While I was at home, taking care of a toddler and working from home, supporting us financially while he was gone for hours and days at a time and I didn’t know where he was.
What was he doing? I didn't need to know, I guess. He was in charge and I was just the wife, just the woman. I was just the one that was supposed to submit and pray and love and serve. Yep. I was just supposed to be a good little girl and love him through it all. Even when he told me he wanted a divorce.
Instead of listening to him when he told me he wanted a divorce, I begged him to go to counseling with me and try and work it out for the sake of our kid. I found the therapy and the babysitter in the brand new city we had just moved to, where we had no friends or family nearby. I remember asking someone I had just met at a local church mom group if she could help out watching our son because I was so despearte for healing for us, for help.
I have since learned that if someone wants to go, just let them. It’s so simple but so rough when you’re in the middle of it. But I can not, in fact, make someone love me. That is a fact. He didn’t want it anymore and I thought I could want it enough for both of us. I was told and taught that I could serve and love him hard enough that he would come around. I learned a long and hard lesson that it does not work that way. Marriage takes two committed people. I was only half of the equation.