I got an email yesterday from one of my readers whose divorce will be finalized very soon. She asked, “What did you do on the day your divorce was final?”
Here’s the answer:
I can tell you what I did, and that might be useful information, but it might not be what you feel like doing. Every person has a different reaction, and wants to “celebrate” or not celebrate the day, or both.
The day I got divorced (officially), it was my ex’s night with the kids. My dear, dear friend, whose divorce was set to be finalized about 2 weeks later called me and said, “We’re going out.”
We met for a drink and we sat there and it was kind of quiet. I wasn’t having a drink to say “cheers!” and I wasn’t having a drink to drown my sorrows because I was so depressed.
My friend described us having a drink as “Marking the occasion. Just having a drink to mark it. That’s it. Not good or bad, not happy or sad, just because it was a significant day.
If you think about it, it’s no big surprise. Your divorce has been in the works for months, years perhaps. So, it’s not unexpected, yet when you realize you are officially divorced, it’s kind of hard to believe.
I’d say the feelings are first and foremost, relief. You are finished worrying about judge’s decisions and rulings and petitions and what the outcome is going to be. You now know. You know what your child support is going to be, you know what assets you’re left with, you know your kids’ custody schedule is in writing. You know. And knowing is very comforting. And the biggie, no more paying the attorney!! Not that’s a reason to make a toast and say “cheers!!”
Other feelings are both sadness and happiness. It’s the end of one life, the beginning of a new life. So, the feelings are very mixed. There aren’t too many other instances in life that carry both of those feelings at the same time. In fact, I can’t think of one.
I just read a blog where the author surveyed a bunch of women who were getting divorced, and most of them said that even though their marriages were terrible, they still missed that life a little bit. I, personally find that hard to understand, but it does make sense. You can miss anything, whether it’s bad or good, just because you lived with it for so long.
As far as the happiness, PLEASE don’t feel guilty if you feel happy! Don’t you deserve some happiness after all the pain you’ve endured, both at the end of the marriage (maybe even for years) and then through the divorce? Feeling happy is okay. It’s healthy, actually. I remember feeling like I had no clue where life was going to take me, and it was a little bit scary, but it was a good feeling, too. The unknown can be exciting if you have the guts to look at it that way.
As far as the actual divorce, I can’t resist talking about the fact that what I remember very clearly about that day, is that my ex, myself and our attorneys were standing in front of the judge and she was reviewing our agreements. When she was getting ready to wrap things up, she asked me a question. “Do you agree with this settlement? If you do, please answer, ‘I do.’” With my jaw on the ground, I somehow managed to give her that answer.
Sometimes I look back and I wonder if I dreamed that. Seriously? The last thing you say when you get divorced is “I do?”
Other things that happened on my divorce day: In the morning, before I went downtown, the girl my ex was dating at the time actually asked me (with more enthusiasm than Tony Robbins and a smile plastered on her face) if I wanted her to babysit my kids since it was “such a big day!!!!!!” That sort of set me over the edge.
There were no tears during my divorce, I think because I was still so pissed at the girl, and that was the emotion of the day for me!
I did one more important thing to mark my divorce: I bought myself a really nice gift.
I had had my eye on a diamond necklace at my friend, Claudia’s jewelry store for years. I took some of my gold (pieces I knew I’d never wear again) and traded it in for the necklace (although I did still have to pay a little bit of money.)
In my opinion, getting divorced is a gift-giving holiday. Not gifts from others, (although I did get a couple of those and cracked up) but to buy a gift for yourself is very warranted. And to this day, every time I wear the necklace, I think back to why I bought it.
Getting divorced is one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my life. Endless tears, fears, worries, tension, bitterness, loss, grief, gut-wrenching sadness and anger are all feelings one faces for months, perhaps years after a split. But having gone through it (and I’d wish it on no one!) I’m stronger, smarter and I appreciate things more than I used to, although that might be part of getting older, as well. So, what’s wrong with a material possession to provide a little bit of happiness and offset the sting just a little bit?
When divorce becomes final, I think there’s one thing everyone feels. You once stood in front of a priest or a rabbi or a judge with this person, and you promised to love, honor and cherish him or her forever. And now, you’ve broken that promise (whether it was your choice or not). And that’s sad. But if the marriage was wrong, then isn’t it wonderful that you now get the opportunity to find a better life for yourself? Freedom is a beautiful thing. And that’s certainly something to celebrate.