Wikivorce's Community Manager, Ruth Mackay, tells us how she survived divorce... When my now ex-husband left us, I had the grand total of 74p in my purse, and very little in the way of food in my cupboards. The previous day had been Christmas Day.
I don’t remember much about those early days, it was as though I was living in a bubble - I just felt incredibility numb, as though I had been skinned like a rabbit ready for the pot. I couldn’t eat or sleep, just getting out of bed each morning was a major achievement. By this time, I had already joined Wikivorce, but had yet to discover the life-saving support that 'Wiki-people' so readily give freely.
I couldn’t deal with the basics, like opening the post, so I devised a clever “filing system” - plastic carrier bags. I would shove all the post (unopened) in these bags and hide them - out of sight, out of mind. When I did start eating, I treated myself to culinary delights like Scotch eggs and ready-made Shepherds Pie, but even then it was eating without joy, without tasting. Sleep evaded me for many months - its was like a game of “catch-me-if-you-can”, with sleep always just out of my reach. The housework suffered, the children worried, and it was all I could do to get up each morning.
Fast-forward about 3 months - I had started the divorce ball rolling, appointments with the solicitor were terrifying. Sitting in a cramped, untidy office dissecting my marriage with a complete stranger who talked in a strange language that I later learned was “legalese”. It was overwhelming and all I wanted to do was curl up in a dark corner and sleep for a very long time. But while hiding away was the preferred option, it also meant I wasn’t facing up to reality, to life and the inevitable.
The support and advice I received in the chatroom was life-saving, here were others going through much the same, but reminding me to eat, telling me to go to bed and try to get some rest, laughing at my “filing system”, but pointing out that I should start sorting out all those unopened letters. It was humbling. And also gave me a kick up the backside that I really did need to burst my bubble and start facing up to life as it was.
I started making “to-do” lists, as a way of planning my day and making me start dealing with all that I had neglected and avoided during those early months. The lists weren’t for major tasks, simply things like mop the kitchen floor, put on a load of washing, clean toilet, exciting stuff really. But each time I completed a task and crossed it off my list, I felt as though I had achieved something, and to complete a list was a huge boost and made me realise that I was finally facing up to life and getting on with it. I also started working my way through all that unopened post, and dealing with its contents, including several debts that had accrued during that time. Ive never used carrier bags to hide my post since.
I became stronger, more determined and more positive during this time, and I knew that I would get through this. I was more able to cope with the bad days, and embrace the good days. I was able to offer support to others now, I was cooking again (I will never ever eat ready-made Shepherds Pie as long as I live!), enjoying time with my girls, making sure the housework was done, listen to music I enjoyed (singing along badly), and facing up to having to split the marital assets and that my home would be sold. The support I received from other members on Wikivorce during this time was incredible, and was definitely my salvation. I know that I couldn't have gotten through those very dark times without the support and friendship of people here.
Now, its 2012, Im divorced and have been for a number of years, I have moved house, began a relationship with a wonderful man and we are planning our wedding for the end of this year. I've learned a lot about myself during my journey, confident of my own abilities and comfortable in my own skin. I like being me. Earlier this year I successfully qualified as a Family Law Paralegal in Scots Law and continue to feed my passion for all matters family law related. I would never have thought at the time of separation that I would be where I am physically and emotionally, today - I may not have ended up where I wanted to be, but I have ended up where I should be.
Divorce is never easy, the impact of a relationship breaking down is immense on those involved - but it doesn’t mean the end of life, but the start of a new life, new opportunities and the chance to re-discover yourself.