People going through a divorce do stupid things. It’s not a cut down and I’m not trying to be hurtful, it’s just reality. Trust me, when I was newly separated, I did more stupid things than anyone I know.
Why the stupid things? Because going through a divorce is extremely difficult. It’s an emotional, stressful, painful and unbelievably scary time, and all those emotional changes cause people to temporarily become different people.
An otherwise confident, stable person can temporarily turn into an insecure, emotional mess who is always unsure of him or herself and who can’t seem to do anything right. Because of the insecurities, the instability and the lack of self-worth, people can make bad choices. It is a time of weakness and extreme vulnerability.
I recently heard the story of a divorced woman who told me that when she was separated last year, she had a few glasses of wine one night and left a long voice message on her soon-to-be ex’s voice mail, using several four letter words and spewing out threats.
Her ex’s attorney played the voicemail in court and it was extremely damaging. In the end, her ex got full custody of her children. Ugh. That made me sick to hear. Why? Because I know this woman personally and she didn’t deserve that. This scenario could happen to anyone, which is why people going through a divorce really have to be careful. I hate to say it, but when you’re going through a divorce, you are sort of on trial. You’re being judged, you have to walk on eggshells. It can feel like you are being evaluated as a parent and you have to prove yourself. It’s not fair, but it’s reality.
When people are going through a divorce, they sometimes act a little crazy. I know I did. One night early on, I had a couple glasses of wine (without eating anything) and drove home. I got pulled over (thank God I didn’t get a DUI). Since then, I have never had more than one drink if I know I’m driving.
Other crazy/stupid things I did while going through a divorce were:I got into a toxic relationship with a guy who treated me like crap, I binge ate, I drank a lot and called my girlfriends crying, and I quit a high-paying job. I could go on and on.
People going through a divorce do things that are so out of character because they really don’t know who they are momentarily. They’ve lost a sense of themselves. They are in chaos and unchartered territory. They don’t know how to be themselves because the whole world as they know it has changed. It’s like you’re just trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do now, AND you’re trying to soothe the immense pain you are feeling every minute of every day, so whatever you feel you have to do at that moment, you do it.
Here’s the good news. That frame of mind doesn’t last very long. For me, it only lasted a few months. I then realized if I continued on this path that I would ruin my life and my kids’ lives.
Here are some STUPID things you shouldn’t do if you are going through a divorce (or EVER!)
1. Leave a voicemail message for ANYONE after you’ve been drinking or ANYTIME, (even if you are sober) that might paint you in an unflattering light.
2. Send an email or text that you wouldn’t want a judge or your ex’s attorney to see.
3. Drink and Drive.
4. Talk badly about your ex in front of your kids.
5. Talk badly about your ex to people in your community.
6. Send an email or text to your ex really quickly when you are upset or right after you get bad news from your attorney about the case.
7. Call your attorney for every little detail or to complain or vent. That’s what a therapist or Divorced Girl Smiling is for!
8. Change your standards when it comes to dating and how men/women treat you.
9. Take drugs or drink excessively to try to numb your anxiety or pain. There are so many other wonderful options for that, including working out, yoga, faith, and doing things you love.
10. Threaten your ex.
11. Tear up old photos or throw away marriage mementos. You’ll regret it later.
12. Do anything out of spite or just to cause your ex pain or to anger him/her.
I don’t think I have to tell anyone reading this how difficult going through a divorce really is. It’s incredibly painful, and still, 14 years later, when I look back on that time in my life, I can still vividly recall that raw pain.
Here’s the good news. You are in the thick of things, and although it might seem like things are never going to change, I promise they will! You just have to try to be patient, and make HEALTHY choices when you are feeling like you need something. For example, during a very very stressful moment, instead of downing a glass of wine, engage in deep breathing and meditation. Instead of calling your ex and screaming at him or her, go for a jog or write in a journal.
I truly think everyone will do some stupid things while going through a divorce. It’s okay and kind of unavoidable. And, it’s temporary. But the key is not to do anything damaging because there could be real consequences, resulting in things you will regret forever.