When Will I be Over my Divorce?

Via Ben Lenzo
on Mar 4, 2016
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Warning: Naughty language ahead! 


“When will I be over my divorce?”

I speak to a lot of people who are divorced or separated about that question and the answers range from a from a day and a half to never.

And then, the discussion inevitably moves to whether you’re ready to get into another “serious relationship,” or if you’re still in the “just have fun” stage.

Then this ties back into the initial question in an endless loop that will eventually lead to the destruction of humanity.

I think the amount of time it takes is going to be different for everyone, but I suspect that for anyone who is actually going to deal with a massive loss like this in an emotionally intelligent manner, that will be a murky, twisty, “two steps forward, one step back” road.

So, yeah, I’m over the breakdown of my 10-year marriage. Ya know…mostly.

Am I over the ex? Well sheesh, kinda. I’m over the loss of the person I thought was my best friend. I miss the illusion of what I had. But that word “illusion” is an indicator that maybe I’m not over it—I’ll get to that in a minute.

I think divorce is a little like a death, in that with a death, you have this soul sucking darkness that envelops you. Over time, it lifts. But it never really leaves you fully—there’s always a hole. There can be things that pop you right back into the darkness—perhaps not for as long, perhaps not quite as acutely. But you get reminders. You get taken back there at random times. It fucking hurts! And it’s different for everybody.

My dad died five years ago and I’m over the loss of that. I still get sad every now and then, and miss him dearly, but I’m over the day to day grief of his being gone. Time is the healer, however long that time needs to be for the individual. There’s not a task list you can complete to “get over” a death. It just takes whatever time it’s going to take! Same with a marriage, I suspect.

So sure, as a rule, I’m over my ex in a work-in-progress fashion. I don’t have anything in the love tank for her. That’s been washed away by all that’s happened. I don’t wish her ill will, but I no longer continue to put myself out to try to help her. That’s not my job anymore! That’s a tick in the “I’m over it” column, isn’t it? We’re both individuals responsible for ourselves now, yeah?

But circling back to that “illusion” thingamagig from earlier, here’s where I say perhaps there’s a big ass tick in the “I’m not over it” column:

I struggle trying to remember anything from the last nine years of my marriage that wasn’t false. Because that was empirically the default on so many fundamental issues. And you’re going to assume I’m putting that all on my ex, but the kicker is, I’d have to include myself in that too, because I knew there were issues not being dealt with. I “allowed” them to continue. I gave in on things that screwed our marriage—massive mistake on my part.

But the point is, looking back, I see everything as false.

Now, that has to be bullshit, right? It fucking has to be—but I can’t see anything else.

But there’s gotta be something from the last nine years of a 17-year relationship that was true, surely? My kids? Of course. But for my ex wife and I? For us? Something in there had to be real, surely?

I lean toward no.

I don’t care who you are, if you’re in love with someone for 17 years and that’s where you’re at, it’s gonna sting! And that takes more than the 18 months we’ve been apart to get over.

If I can’t identify anything positive in my marriage other than my kids, while simultaneously acknowledging that the lack of anything positive has to be bullshit, am I really be over it?

I never thought I would not love this woman. Yet the love went pretty quickly for me after we separated. That was a blow for me. Not so much that I didn’t love her anymore, but rather the understanding that the certainty of my own feelings is not certain at all. I’m simultaneously the one person on the planet who knows her better than anyone else, and yet she’s become a complete stranger to me. And even as a stranger, I’m still the person who knows her better than anybody else… Massive head-scratcher.

So, during this time of upheaval and change, I choose to see an opportunity for some serious personal growth. If this 17-year relationship hadn’t ended, I’d have never got to understanding what I really want in a relationship. And that excites the hell outta me! I’d have been settling. Compromising is part of any relationship. Settling is a “never again” thing for me.

I’d have never met the people I’ve met, made the discoveries I have, undertaken an MBA, really pursued some career choices that I was held back on…and I’m gonna share something important with you: I’d have never undertaken hip hop dance lessons! Okay, that was a one-time thing, but still.

And possibly most importantly, even though I knew that this would probably, very likely, almost positively, abso-smurfly be the case, I now know with the certainty of experience, that I have family and a dozen or so friends that will drop their shit instantly and be by my side. What a gift!

So, you know, that’s all good stuff. And these things are part of the process of me getting over it. Notice, I’ve not put a timeframe on those things. I won’t have a date marked in my calendar when I’m all 100 percent over it. Because I suspect that doesn’t happen.

I’m doing great, but I still get reminders. The other day, I saw this lady rest her head on the shoulder of the guy she was with, and on the inside I went, “Naaaaaaawwwww, isn’t that cute!” That would be nice. To take comfort from your special someone.

But your process may be different. And your triggers may be different. And you’ll certainly work through it at your own pace, and that’s as it should be. But don’t have an expectation that one day you’ll wake up and be completely fine for all time.

Because, I think that like a death, you don’t get over it. I think you manage it. Two steps forward, one step back. Maybe for years.

Even if you’re happily with someone else, I imagine there are still times when there can be a brief reminder of that loss.

And I’m okay with that.

Because maybe one of those times, something will twig and I’ll remember something good from my marriage that was for me.

From my wife at the time.

I may get a memory and believe that we did love each other.

That would be a happy thought.

And maybe then I’ll be “over” it.


Author: Ben Lenzo

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Mark & Allegra Jaroski-Biava/Flickr


About Ben Lenzo

Ben Lenzo is a single father of two kids, 8 and 6 years old. He’s a writer/director and business owner based in Sydney, Australia and has written for video games, TV and theatre. He’s dabbled in Triathlons too. He’s a dabbler. You can read more of his scribbling’s at The Good Men Project and Elite Daily. Twitter: @Benlenzo.


8 Responses to “When Will I be Over my Divorce?”

  1. rlh says:

    Thank you Ben. Just what I needed to hear. A wake-up call that feels like a supportive words-hug

  2. @BenLenzo says:

    Glad you got something out if it, rlh.

  3. TahitiNut says:

    In my experience, any emotional trauma such as that caused by death of a loved one or divorce, decays like a radioactive isotope and that radioactivity-like pain diminishes over time with a half-life, where it becomes half as painful every so many months or years. Every so often there's a slight burst where the pain seems pronounced, but It still diminishes. It never goes away completely, at least not in a lifetime.

  4. Linda says:

    I could not have said it better!

  5. KS says:

    I am separated currently after 17 years, so this hits home for me as well. I have had exactly the same thought about the person who I know best in the world can feel like a stranger, very bizarre. Our split was due to infidelity, and I found out the first time it was about 9 years ago, so it has ruined my view of the last 9 years of our lives together as a result as well. It’s heartbreaking. Also, I now know there were some issues I didn’t face, little red flags – I think I was in denial of what those things could mean. It’s hard when you have little children and your whole life is at stake, apparently denial is a powerful thing so don’t blame yourself for doing the same. I never thought my marriage would dissolve abruptly and unexpectedly in front of my very eyes, but now here I am and it is surreal. But it seems to be happening to more people around me as we hit middle age and our kids are getting older. The cracks that existed in small ways in the people and relationships are now starting to deepen and show up in various ways. It is sad but I am also trying to find the positive lessons and growth as a result. But that darkness still swallows me up frequently, hopefully less and less. Thank you for your heartfelt article so we know others can relate.

  6. Nadège says:

    Ben, how did you know what was in my head? Will you marry me? 🙂

  7. Marc Van Steenkiste says:

    Great text on an aspect of divorce that is often given little attention. But it really touched me because it is a kind of slowly acting poison. The pain diminishes, you get on with your life, but something is destroyed: your innocence. What us true? What is fake? Where am I being deluded? Where do I delude myself…? And you don’t really believe in what I call “FB peptalk” any more. Thanks man. We do our best, that’s all we can do.

  8. V says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I felt like you are reading my mind. This is exactly how I feel after my divorce. I am so confused with my feelings and thoughts about what went wrong with us and is it ever going to be really over. I am divorced for two years now but I am afraid I’m divorced only on the paper but not yet in my head. I guess it’s true that hope never dies but the question is what am I hoping for?

    However, thank you so much…you open my eyes and mind.