I have some divorce advice just in time for New Year's. Below is an e-mail I received on my website, Divorced Girl Smiling from a woman who wants to "lock the door and go to bed" for the holidays.
My husband of 17 years decided to leave the kids and I for a woman he met during the marriage and moved to another state. It was a complete shock as he was away on a trip and when I called said he was not coming home.
He immediately moved in with her and abandoned the kids and me. After about a year and a half later the divorce is final, but I am still left confused and angry. He is now living his dream life, lots of free time, money, no responsibilities and a person who loves him. Meanwhile I am left as a single mom alone and struggling every day.
I am unable to date because I am left with a deep mistrust of men. I want to go out and get the life I want, but I don't have any idea what that is. I had the life I wanted, and it has been stolen from me. I want to be a happy person for the kids' sake as it is not good for them to see me depressed and sad all the time.
The holidays are especially hard and to be honest I would rather not celebrate at all, just lock the door and stay in bed. Seeing other people and their perfect lives is so difficult, it is hard to fake it all the time that you are ok. I feel lost and hopeless.
I have to believe that most people, at one time or another have felt like they want to lock the door and stay in bed because of a broken heart, whether due to divorce, or a bad breakup, or even a death of someone close to them. It's an awful feeling, and I'm so sorry.
There is so much pressure to be happy and have an amazing Christmas and New Year's. But, we all know that isn't the case every single year of our lives. That's ok. I think the holidays should be about gratitude, and I have to believe that anyone in any situation can find gratitude. In your case, you have healthy children. You have a roof over your head, friends and family who love you. I'm not minimizing your broken heart. What happened to you is horrible. But, during the holidays, and every day after, try to focus on the things you have: health, healthy kids and the potential for a new, happy, better life.
You obviously can't lock the door and go to bed on the holidays, but you don't have to be Miss social butterfly, party girl either during the holidays this year. Just feel appreciative and happy, and cherish those kids. Next year will be a completely different story. I know it.
He is "living his dream life."
Seriously? Is that what you really think? It's so easy for someone who was left to fantasize in their mind that their ex now has this perfect life. You have no idea how wrong this thinking is. How can you know how he is feeling or what the relationship is like? You can't.
I can't imagine him being at peace, or ever truly happy. It's one thing to abandon an adult, but to move out of state away from your children for another woman (or man) is unspeakably disgusting, selfish and really f*cked up (in my opinion). Do you think in a few years he is still going to be blissfully happy? Just wait. His demons will catch up to him. It is then that your life will be going great and his will fall apart. Actually, it probably already has.
"I am unable to date because I am left with a deep mistrust of men. I want to go out and get the life I want, but I don't have any idea what that is. I had the life I wanted, and it has been stolen from me."
Ok, here is your job for the first of the year. Figure out the life you want. That's all you have to do. Don't worry so much about dating. That will come, and you will see that not all men abandon their families and move out of state. There are so many wonderful men who want a lifetime commitment. You will see. But, for now, you need to do some deep thinking. What do you want? Marriage is not a good answer. It might come and it might not. That's not meant to depress you, it's just reality and out of your control (to a certain extent). You need to figure out what you want out of life that has nothing to do with being a wife and mother. What are your hobbies? Passions? Do you work? Do you want a different job? What will make you happy in life for YOU? Then do it. I think when you are doing what you love, love comes to you. And of course, your children will always be your life, no matter what.
I would also do these things if you aren't doing them already: yoga, aerobic and weightlifting exercise, find faith/religion, consider therapy or perhaps a life/career coach.
Do you realize that everything I'm telling you is all good news? In other words, you have the rest of your life to be happy, and you have all the control over that. It's time to stop feeling sorry for yourself and start rebuilding. And, what better time of year than the new year to start doing that? So, this is where I will say to you, "happy new year!" and I really, really mean that!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, "Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.