OK so those who are observant, the below is in my blog. Team Wiki has asked me to move this to the forum to make sure peeps see it. So here goes:
As you will have seen by my blog, I am five months in post separation. It is the weekend of the royal wedding and I have been struck by just how many new members have joined the website over the holiday period. It seems to work this way, there seems to be flurries of broken hearted people being left over Easter and Christmas.
The purpose of me writing this blog is that I was given so much advice when I first joined about how to survive the pain at the beginning. I am now through that initial all-consuming pain and seeing light at the end of the tunnel. So, for all the new members, I wanted to write down all the advice that that lovely wiki peeps gave me and stuff that I read in books that helped me. I thought maybe if I put all the stuff people told me in one place it might help the new ones.
The endless panic, those questions on endless playback in your mind. I remember literally driving myself mad with questions. Nothing my stbx said made any sense. My husband despite his many indiscretions was not a rude or aggressive person in our marriage, not at all. However, on separation very thing that hurt the most is this man that I loved and trusted turned into a monster. On the night he told me our marriage was over, when I dared to question his decision he shouted at the top of his voice “DON’T YOU GET IT, I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” It was as far as he was concerned very obvious the marriage was over and his whole attitude was “well you just need to get over it” When I said that I had not realised he was thinking of leaving, he looked at me as if I was completely stupid. He conceded “well I suppose not everything in the marriage was terrible” I could not believe my ears, what was he talking about? I seriously thought he had lost his mind. The final straw was when he said to me that he had discussed leaving with most of his family and friends before he told me. It was horrendous; I was literally the last person to know my marriage was over. My marriage being cruelly ended was very much, a decision by committee and I later found out that the other woman was very much part of that committee. And that final piece of information nearly killed me.
Of course, I asked him whether there was anyone else. He said no. I could not understand though why he wanted to leave so quickly. All of a sudden I was a massive inconvenience, an appendage, getting in the way of his future happiness. He shouted at me “I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HAPPY” What that meant roughly translated was he wanted me out of the way as soon as possible. Oh and the arrogance….. the horrible disgusting arrogance. I saw this man literally strut around my house, like he was god’s gift. He seemed proud or something, almost euphoric, that he was going to escape. It was only after that I realised this was because he had “pulled” and was going to be with the other woman. He told me he has taken a “calculated risk” by leaving me. Perhaps this was a list of pros and cons for life with me and life with her. Even in my deeply shocked and distressed state, I could see that our 10 year relationship would be no match for the initial rush and excitement of a new relationship and the clear ego boost this had given him. God it was so pathetic.
I went home to my parents. A powerful instinct to get away from my husband took over me. He had now in my eyes, become a complete lunatic. That was my first good decision. Get away from the madness at first.
So now you probably understand that I do know what you are going through. I have been there. So I was at my parents feeling alone and like a total failure. How could I have been so stupid not to see any if this coming? After all the chances I had given his promises to change, his assurances that he loved me, to end up like this. I bounced about between sheer upset and panic, overwhelming anger and feeling complete and utter despair. You can read more about this in my first few blogs.
Then after a couple of weeks of not really understanding my new reality, I googled something like divorce support and found wikivorce. I put up my first post, hoping that someone on this site could shed some light on my situation and was praying silently that they would not all just say to me “look you managed to lose your husband because you were a bad wife and you have failed him in some way” Because that is how I felt about myself at first you see.
I thank my lucky stars I found this place. After posting, advice, understanding and sympathy poured out of my laptop from strangers, many who I have met in person now and who I consider friends. These people seemed to know, understand and did not seem to find me an inconvenience. I did not need to worry about boring people here, with the inevitable compassion fatigue that sets in with family and friends after a few weeks.
The main thing that reassured me instantly with this shared wisdom is that my circumstances were far from unique. Most adulterers leaving marriages absolutely do the same things. This was a total shock to me that this must mean that this sequence of events, how he left me, what he said, well it could not just be my fault then could it? I cannot tell you how much that helped me, just knowing that those having affairs all conform to a particular pattern of behaviour. Much later I read a book called runaway husbands that described this process so well and I would recommend this book to all people in my situation
So in summary here is what my experience and the book says about it:
1. The end of the marriage as far as the leaver is concerned is a fair accompli. You are an innocent bystander in the end of your marriage
2. The plan to leave has been in their mind for some time. Mine confessed much later to planning his exit for six months before. That is when his affair started by the way
3. My ending was a death by a thousand cuts ending, a rollercoaster ride from hope to despair again. Looking back there were mounting levels of hostility in the final few weeks of our relationship, I thought I was being too needy about my job loss. No it was because he was trying to get the message through maybe hoping I would end it so he could be with his new lady.
4. Reasons for the marriage ending are often trivial, exaggerated or fraudulent.
There is so much more to this so if you want to know the full explanation read the book.
So here is the best advice I was given in my meltdown period.
1. Feel it. Know in the middle of the night things will be at their worst. It is better for your long term healing to feel the pain now, know actually this is the first and most painful step on the road to healing. You are in shock at first, this is real and serious. You must take care of yourself.
2. Shock lasts for at least six weeks in my experience. You have to be real kind to yourself. Look at it this way. If your best friend was going through this, how would you treat him or her? What would you do for them.. You need to be doing the same for yourself. Become your own best friend.
3. Don’t make any major decisions in the first few weeks and try very hard not to leave the marital home as this puts you at a disadvantage in the divorce process
4. See a solicitor quick, some do free half an hour consultations. Get hold of the marriage certificate and hide it. Important if you want to launch divorce proceedings yourself. Your spouse can order a copy but this will take time. One of the biggest things that has comforted me is that I am divorcing my husband for unreasonable behaviour. By controlling the divorce proceedings, it is one less thing he can do to me. He never got the satisfaction of petitioning me for divorce and let me tell you he was shocked to the core when I told him I would be divorcing him, not waiting for two year separation as he wanted.
5. My stbx tried to pressure me into making decisions. He moved out within a week of telling me and started to tell me what furniture we wanted to take with him and told me he wanted the telly. I told him no jointly owned assets were leaving the property until we had reached an agreement on division of assets. I stuck to that too
6. If you can’t eat, try soup and yoghurts things that don’t require chewing are easier to get down. I took care of myself when I literally could not eat anything by taking a vitamin pill and drinking water.
7. I read very early on that the biggest regret that people had when going through divorce is that they wish they had been more business-like. I embraced this, unfortunately now your life will become a fight over who is having what. It is a soul destroying process where you feel you are picking over the bones of the marriage that meant the world to you. Hard but you have to toughen up so you are ready for it.
8. Don’t expect to recognise your spouse who has left, ever again. I actually said to my husband that the man I married is dead. Even five months on, I look at him and I don’t recognise him. He is a shadow of the man I once knew.
9. Sleep is very badly affected and late at night/early in the morning your mind plays tricks on you. Reading about the situation I was in helped me loads. I would recommend looking at descriptions on amazon of the following books: Runaway husbands and Emotional Unavailability. I read at night when I could not sleep and was almost persistently on wikivorce during those dark nights looking through old posts and blogs trying to find answers to the endless questions in my head. What helped me get some sleep was exercise and lots of it and meditation/relaxation CDs available off amazon. Sounds a bit hocus pocus but they do work. Basically grab sleep whenever you feel like it. A few hours here and there seemed to be my experience for the first couple of months
10. Your spouse will not answer your questions and if they do they will be lies. Better to read books and ask for advice on wikivorce than ask your spouse anything. I think my husband suffered a spiritual death or that is how I choose to look at it. This thought stopped me asking him those questions. I just wanted to know WHY? Truth is I don’t think he even really knew at the time. He liked the feeling of the affair and chased it. That is all. Once you discover wiki chat you will never have to have an evening in alone. When you first go in, it feels all weird, like everyone there knows each other. They often don’t, speak up and type in I am new. Then people will generally ask how you are and you can take it from there. Months on I have met a lot of the people that I chatted to on line and they have become real friends. I never thought this would happen to me
11. The worry about the future is mind-blowing at first. I remember thinking OMG what am I going to do? I had no job, no means of getting a mortgage on my own. I had panic attacks about losing my home on top of everything else. Marshy (if you use wiki you will get to know him) says something really true here. “You can’t eat an elephant in one go” You have to do it in chunks. Take one day at a time, get through it. That’s all you can do. Try not to think about the future at first, just get through the day
12. It is entirely normal to harbour fantasies about the spouse returning at first. I know I did. I remember going on wikivorce in the first few weeks and people telling me they had been separated for six months. I thought to myself “hmmm in six months’ time, he will be back” “I won’t be the same as you” Well here I am still separated after five months. The painful truth is most doing ever come back and those that do well by the time this happens often the spouse does not want to take them back. The latter is true in my case.
13. The other thing is managing the support network. The sad reality is often friends disappear on divorce often without trace. My husband and I had a group of joint friends and I have not heard from a single one of them since he left. My in law family have completely cut me dead and did so after a few weeks. Loss of these relationships also needs to be grieved as well as the loss of the spouse
14. The ones that are there for you, well I am afraid they develop compassion fatigue after a while. The reality is no one understands divorce unless they have lived through it. The typical attitude might be something like well he was a really bad husband Sair, you just need to forget about him and move on. Seriously, there are people in my close family who think it is that simple. Not their fault they don’t understand it, and that is where Wikivorce comes in
15. Loss of relationships on divorce often means that you need to develop a new social life. This can be rebuilt, trust me on this. Organisations like spice and nexus are great and also wikimeets are brilliant for making your virtual friends real ones and yes I have a number of real life friends that I met on wikivorce. I joined a slimming club and met a lot of local people. There are many local groups and activities and your local library will have details of things going on. Please don’t worry about the rebuilding of a social life from experience I know this can be fixed. It is just knowing where to go that is all.
16. Develop a routine as quickly as you can. I got out and about. Despite job loss and technically having no reason to get up, I made myself do it. Someone said that revenge on a cheating spouse is to have the best life you can without them. I embraced this and it gave me strength. There was no way I was going to let him win, He would not destroy my life. I would not pay for his poor conduct for the rest of my days.
17. If you can’t get up at first open the window and curtains and let the daylight in. Remember the best friend bit earlier in the blog. So make sure your environment is clean, nice sheets, tidy room. After all you have been through you deserve the best. Only you can make sure that is what you get.
I hope that list is of some assistance. But the main question I had at first was When will this horrible feeling go away? Hard one to answer that but from personal experience and from talking to friends here it takes between two and three months to feel anything near normal again. For some it is longer, there is no hard and fast rule. I know that is not great news because at first a day feels like a week and a week feels like a month. Time will start to pass by at normal speed soon just hang on in there and post when it feels like too much. The peeps on this site will see you through those dark desperate days for we have all been there.
Healing for me happened like this. At first you have the hit by a train feeling and you can’t function. One day you will have a tiny bit of conversation not about the marriage breakdown and you will forget for a few short seconds. Then you will find you can concentrate on a TV programme or get absorbed in a book for small periods. There will be small amounts of respite soon, I promise. It is like you hurt less for five minutes less per day and as time goes on it becomes good and bad days rather than feeling shit all the time. Then the bad days get less over time.
I remember thinking when I first joined the site in a rather grandiose way that perhaps the people here cared less than me about their spouse so their pain stopped. I thought then with some mounting panic that my pain would never heal. Ridiculous thoughts but this blog is about telling you about what really happened to me. Trust me it does get better with time and positive action in equal measure. Hopefully this blog has given you some ideas to help.
How can you accelerate healing? Different for peeps but here are my top tips that helped me the most:
1. Cut contact as quick as possible with the stbx. If you have kids, it should be just about them, no other information hard yes, but it works. Please see my month three blog.
2. If you are stuck in the FMH and it is full of memories, put the photos of you together in the loft and move the furniture around. Get hold of some new bedding if you can afford it and try to get some new accessories for the house to make it feel different. If you have no money, try freecycle, local groups will be on the internet.
3. Counselling, I can’t recommend this enough. Please please please try and do this as quickly as possible. My counsellor has changed my life. GPs can provide access to counselling, there might be a wait list. If you can afford it, it is worth paying for it. Relate is a good place to check this out.
4. Get out and do stuff. See friends, do spice stuff go on wikimeets. Yes it is hard, so hard, I have cried in the ladies loo when I have been out with others because I can’t believe how my life turned out. But better this than being in the house alone thinking about him having a great time with her every Friday night. If you can’t go our Nell no regrets recommends jigsaws as a way of passing the time. I think this is a brilliant idea….
5. Stopped listening to music for a while, too painful everything made me cry. Listen to radio 4 or buy some new music.
I hope this helps and for the new ones, welcome to Wikivorce. Your life may well be ripped apart at the moment, but know there are many here that will support you all the way to recovery. You are not alone. Take care of you and remember be your own best friend
Sair, what a well thought out and sensible piece of text. I wish it had been there to read when I first joined wiki.
I don't necessarily agree with everything you say, but everyone's individual circumstances are different, and they're affected in different ways, though in general you make complete sense.
Oddly, sleep deprivation and not wanting to eat were criteria which were absent in my case - the worst times were (and still are) first thing in the morning, when, as you say, the numbness of sleep rapidly erodes, and I have a knotted stomach and an innate feeling of dread. This eases as I get up, and get moving. I think of the cats, and sort them out first because they depend on me, before sorting myself.
The day passes in fits and starts, and as you describe, is a rollercoaster of feelings, from temporary highs to the depths of despondency. But I'm six months in, now, and it isn't getting any easier, yet. As you say, the time element will be different for everybody.
The greatest disadvantage, for me, is being in a foreign country, and in an isolated spot. I rarely have contact with other humans for days on end, and they're all French anyway! Going down to the pub, or to a wikimeet isn't an option for me. I do go down to the riverside, and sit and have endless coffees when the weather's nice, which is quite a pleasant thing to do, but again, conversation is difficult - everyone is a couple, and often with children!
It is easy to wallow in one's own despair, and I confess to doing this quite a lot. I can understand why people lose patience, and friends stay away.
I wasn't at war with my wife, and considered our thirteen year marriage to have been good. So far as I know, there was no-one else involved, and I think her leaving was largely due to missing the UK, and erroneously blaming me for the predicament of isolation she found herself in, when the location was her choice all along. So I suppose when she made the decision to leave, it was made some time ago, probably with the connivance of her daughter, and in order to justify the desertion to herself, she conjured up all the bad things she could attribute to me, to salve her conscience. I was never perfect, but certainly don't feel I did anything to deserve this hell.
But, I accept that she's gone, that the marriage is over, and that I must try to re-engineer my life accordingly.
Most people here who have followed my story have been very supportive and helpful, but at the end of the day, It is I alone, who will pull me through, even though there's a long hard road ahead.
So, thanks Sair, for your enlightening story - it should be compulsory reading here.
Sair, Thanks for sharing. I am fairly new to Wikidivorce and find a lot of comfort from reading the post on a daily basis. Like you, I petitioned my ex for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
I remember some conversations we had when you first joined Wiki and how you were still clearly in shock, on day 7 of your no-contact rule and apprehensive about the future. The difference in you now compared with then is truly astonishing and illustrates beautifully what a positive mental attitude can do to help yourself on the road to recovery.
As you know I am much further down the line in the separation process but it is still good to hear from others who are finding their way through the mess that is divorce.