“Trying to get over it is like trying to drink water from a broken vessel,” my mother told me when I was still single and in my teens. “Once you open the tap, the water isn’t any good.” As I grew up and learned about relationships, I understood my mother’s advice more and more. I understood that the way I viewed relationships — either as “hard-to-get” or “hard-to-get-over” — was bound to change over time.
As I learned about the many ways people handle and cope with their divorce, I realized there are also similar ways of handling and coping with relationships. And there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how we approach and talk about relationships.
When you’re single, you have to make a decision whether you’re going to tap into your ex’s phone, bank account, or stay single and stay with your family. When you love someone, you might decide to keep their contact information private in a wallet or stick it in a safe deposit box.
When you love someone, you can’t help but think about their happiness and the impact your relationship has on them. But there are also times when it’s harder to imagine how your relationship has affected them and other times when you think about the impact your past relationships have had on your current life, making it harder to imagine how your future one will turn out.
This is why conversations about divorce — especially when they come up with both parties’ imperfections — are so important. Because when you make a mistake, you have to own it and learn from it in order to avoid repeating it. That’s the only way you can get better.
When you’re single, you might avoid talking about divorce because you don’t want to burden your ex with your problems. But when you’re in a relationship, you might worry your partner will lose interest in you if you talk about this stuff. You might worry they’ll forget you or treat you differently because of the breakup.
But remember that when you’re in a relationship, it’s not just conversations about divorce you have to have. You have to worry about other issues as well. Keeping up a regular relationship with friends and family is another choice you have to make. And you have to be open about your feelings and how you’re feeling about the future.
A study out of Canada found that divorced parents reported more loneliness than the parents of children aged 13 to 17. But it found no differences in the reported levels of depression or anxiety between divorced parents with their children.
Depression and anxiety are known to increase the chance of developing children’s emotional skills, like coping with tension and feeling positive and secure in relationships. So if you’re looking for ways to reduce your chances of depression or anxiety, focusing on being a better partner might help.
If you’re already in a healthy relationship and your ex hasn’t hurt you or made you feel differently because of their decision, it’s possible they just don’t care. They might not even realize how bad it is for you.
But if that’s the case, I hope and pray it’s the case for you as well. Because when you’re in a healthy, happy relationship, you’ll want to keep it that way.
This is a short story I wrote about two years after my divorce was finalized.
I was tired. I was irritable. I was confused and feeling lost and lost inside. I was on edge all the time, constantly on edge because of the divorce. The divorce was not exactly what I wanted, but I couldn’t just sit there and wait for it to be.
I wanted it to be. I wanted everyone to think it was great that I was still part of the family. I wanted people to still be surprised when I came home and they were not the only person I had to apologize to. I wanted people to still leave my house thinking it was my own little fortress, still believe that I am still a good person.
I was tired. I was irritable. I was confused and tired. I was lost inside. I was constantly on edge, all the time. Tired of living, of being lied to. Tired of lying to myself in an effort to avoid living in the reality of being alone.
But I was also hungry. I was looking for answers. I wanted to know what I could do to make my life turn around. I wanted someone to rescue me from everything I was feeling, to make me feel better about my situation. I wanted to know that I was not alone.
I was ready to face my pain. I was ready to face the emptiness. I was ready to hear the truth.
When I was ready, I listened.
I was finally ready to face the truth.
I heard you. I heard all of you. And there were things you said that…