People rarely talk about divorce in our culture and, as a result, I rarely thought about how it works until I ended my marriage. Honestly, it was totally different than I imagined. Divorce isn't something that happens the day you decide to file. Instead, it's a process that takes months — or, in my case, years — of give and take to finalize, and one that is sometimes emotionally charged, complex, surprising, and logistically challenging. There are so many things I wasn't prepared for when my divorce was finalized.
A wise person once told me that in divorce cases, no one wins. While I got most of what I asked for in the settlement, that was definitely true for me. Leaving my ex-husband made me feel happy, sad, scared, conflicted, and free, all at the same time. Thus, the day that it was finalized left me emotionally raw and uncertain about my future.
I also had to deal with other people's ideas about divorce and the stress and shame of having to tell everyone from the bank teller to my boss that my name and martial status had changed. Was I imagining the questions and judgment behind their eyes? Their unasked questions about what was wrong with me? There was also my own fear and insecurity. How it felt to see him and hear his words in court. How hard it would be to grieve the loss of marriage and my identity as a married person and how hard it would be to tell my kids.
To say that nothing could prepare me for that day is putting it mildly. It was so different than I expected.