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.
The reason? Going through a divorce is a difficult, emotional, and unbelievably scary time during which people become temporarily different people. A confident, stable person can become 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 self-hatred, in some cases, and the lack of self-worth, people 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 that could happen to anyone. It’s a combination of bad luck and a very bad choice.
When people are going through a divorce, they sometimes act crazy. I know I did. I drank and drove one night and got pulled over (thank God I didn’t get a DUI), I got into a toxic relationship with a guy who treated me like crap, I over ate, I drank too much, I quit a high-paying job, I partied ridiculously too much. 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 their whole world around them has changed. You’re just trying to scramble to get it right, AND you’re trying to soothe the immense pain you are feeling every minute of every day, so whatever it takes you’ll do.
Here’s the good news. That frame of mind doesn’t last forever. In fact, 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.
For some, going through a divorce feels like you are on trial, like you are being watched and judged. It’s scary. You don’t know what your ex is going to do, or what moves he/she is going to make because all of a sudden, he or she has become the enemy, a total stranger. It’s a horribly unsettling, almost creepy feeling.
But, I think eventually, when the divorce is final, everyone exhales and hopefully your relationship with your ex gets better because the pressure is off.
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.
Going through a divorce is really really hard. I can remember lots of crying, lots of anger, frequent feelings of hopelessness, a dramatic loss of self-esteem and of course, STUPIDITY.
It’s okay. The stupidity eventually goes away (hopefully.) They key is not to do anything damaging. Because if you do stupid things, there could be real consequences, resulting in things you will regret forever. So, next time your ex sends you a nasty email, don’t furiously hit your key buttons answering him/her, and spewing venom. Wait until you are calm and rational. Actually, you can answer the email and say whatever you’d like. It’s healthy to vent. Just don’t hit “send!”