When Rod and I broke up, I thought my world was coming to an end. I was totally devastated and I had no idea how to pick up the pieces of my broken heart. Divorce is never easy, but it's even more painful when you find out your husband is having an affair with a beautiful model fifteen years younger than you. I chronicle much of my relationship with Rod in my memoir Rearview Mirror.
I had always been so certain that we were forever, that nothing could ever come between us. I can't make Rod out to be the total villain and me the innocent victim, even though he was the one having the affair (and others that I would come to find out about as well). The last couple of years our marriage had started to deteriorate from the madly in love couple who had everything we could possibly want to the reality of having three young children and a wife who couldn't keep up with the rock-and-roll lifestyle anymore. There was plenty of blame to go around. Between his touring and the recording, playing soccer and the late nights out with the boys, I started to feel that everything came before me and the children. Instead of being able to communicate my feelings, I would react by being angry and cold. Looking back, I can see all the things I did and didn't do that helped to undermine our marriage as well.
Everything seemed to fall apart at once in my life. I was struggling with Epstein-Barr and my health was a wreck; I was stressed out and anxious about the future and what my financial situation would be since I'd signed a pre-nuptial agreement that gave me practically nothing if we ever broke up. But, as I said, I thought we were forever and it would never be an issue; I was naïve, to say the least. My career was virtually non-existent because my focus had been on my husband and children, and, in any case, I wasn't physically able to seriously pursue a career anyway. And I was left raising three small children basically on my own because their fathers -- Rod, and my first husband George Hamilton -- were away all the time. I felt overwhelmed, overburdened and alone.
The break-up with Rod resurfaced all my old issues of having been abandoned by my father and mother, who later died of a drug overdose. I had buried my feelings deeply and kept moving at a break-neck pace so I wouldn't have to face the pain of my childhood. Now it was as if Pandora's Box had been opened.
I was desperately looking for something or someone to help me numb the pain. The first antidote I tried was a remedy I think women often look to -- another man. I got involved with someone who was anything but the kind of guy who was going to nurture my broken soul. His womanizing made Rod look like a Buddhist monk. Finally, I was forced to come out of denial when the womanizing became so in my face that I couldn't pretend it wasn't happening anymore. It was as if God was saying, "Okay, sister, you're going to learn this lesson now or else!" It was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back and I crashed yet again -- even harder this time. There were times I was in unbelievable emotional pain and nothing -- nothing -- seemed to take it away. Sometimes I felt I almost didn't want to live, but I had three children who depended on me and that wasn't an option.
Somewhere deep inside me was the will and determination not only to live, but to be a more present mother for my kids, instead of one who was emotionally unavailable because she was in so much pain, as my own mother was. It didn't come easily or quickly. George Hamilton, my first husband, sent me to see Dr. Deepak Chopra, who at that time was at the Maharishi Ayuvedic Healing Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts. I arrived physically and emotionally bereft. The first thing Deepak told me to do, after I listed all my many problems, was to start meditating. I thought, "Gee, I've come all the way here to see the famous Dr. Chopra, and all he does is tell me to meditate." He also said, "Alana, happy thoughts make happy molecules," and that I must find things in my life to feel happy and grateful about. Again, it didn't make a lot of sense at the time, but as time went on, I began to understand it.
From that point on, my life very slowly started to change. When I got home, I continued meditating and I started going to a 12-step program for people whose lives had been affected by alcoholism and addiction. I began to understand how my mother's drug use had affected my life and many of the decisions I'd made regarding men. I realized that alcohol and drugs had played a large part in the demise of my marriage as well.
I started going to church again. I read every self help book about co-dependency I could find. I even read a book entitled "The Last Self Help Book You Will Ever Read". It wasn't. I found a good therapist who helped support me through this difficult time. In fact, I continued going to therapy for many years and saw a variety of different therapists.
It was a long and painful process but I made it through. There were still more challenges to come, but I finally realized that I wasn't alone on this journey. I had not only people and programs to support me, but most importantly, a power higher than myself. For anyone going through a divorce or any other painful challenge, the first and most important recommendation I can make is to find some kind of spiritual and emotional support. Twelve-step programs are tremendously helpful. They're definitely at the top of my list, because not only do you hear others who share similar experiences, it's also a safe setting to share your pain and there are many people there who are ready to help you. If you can afford it, a good therapist can be invaluable, or attend group therapy. Going to church or synagogue or some kind of spiritual support is a must as far as I'm concerned.
And most importantly, I think, is forgiveness. Bitterness and resentment only hurt one person, and it's not the person we're resenting -- it's us. I had to learn to forgive my ex, but I also had to learn to forgive myself; I had to forgive myself for my part in the break-up of my marriage. I also had to forgive myself for not being there to "save" my mother from her addiction. I learned in 12-step programs that I wasn't God and she had her path; no matter what I would have done, she was bent on self destruction. Most of all, I had to forgive myself for not being the mother I wish I could have been. I just simply wasn't given the tools of good parenting from my own parents and I finally realized that I did the best I could with what I had at the time.
In retrospect, I'm grateful for the break-up of my marriage because it forced me to deal with all the buried issues I probably wouldn't have otherwise faced. I'm a better, kinder, happier person today because of the spiritual and emotional growth I've experienced. What I've learned is that if we have enough faith and perseverance, we can surmount obstacles that may -- at the time --seem insurmountable.
Follow Alana on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlanaKStewart.