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Keeping Sanity Through a Divorce.

13 December 2012

At my men’s meeting last night, a man shared that he’s getting divorced. He was also celebrating two years of sobriety. He’s in his mid forties, but has a young child. I also got divorced in my third year of sobriety. I know a few dozen men that got divorced a few years into sobriety. I don’t know if it’s similar for women who get sober or not. I just don’t have the experience, and the mixed meetings that I attend haven’t happened to address the issue much. Though there is a woman, sober 22 years, who is divorcing in my Sunday meeting. Sometimes, sobriety alters a person and a relationship beyond what it can bear. Sometimes, relationships simply don’t survive life.

It’s incredibly difficult to get divorced. There’s a lot of gallows humor that goes around the rooms when it’s happening to someone (You know why divorce is so expensive? Because it’s worth it.). But the truth is, it’s an excoriating, awful, wrenching experience no matter how much the parties know it’s the best decision. There’s just so much about two lives that become interlaced. Emotions and habits and idiosyncracies that are peculiar to the relationship. Things that feel that they’ll be lost forever. Cherished things that must be sundered if the relationship is to dissolve.

I met my divorce with sadness, anger, and a deep dissociation. I had to separate myself from emotions that were too painful to feel in the moment, and process them again later. But I made a few choices that helped me to stay sane through the many months it took to sever our entanglements. I never insulted her. I never even raised my voice at her. Whenever I was too angry to react calmly, I excused myself and went to an AA meeting. I chose not to argue over physical objects. Whatever she wanted from the house, I let her take.

And I remembered some of the wisest words ever given to me about the end of a relationship. No matter what emotional landscape an interaction with my wife brought me to, I simply told her: “I will always remember the wonderful times we had.” True, simple. And they comforted me. Because even though I knew I was making the right decision, there were many wonderful times that I still cherish. I still love all the things I loved about her. And I always will. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to sell the ring. My thoughts on that are here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 December 2012 08:50

    I’m of the belief that any major life event can change a relationship to the point where a divorce is warranted. For me, it was transitioning from grad school to post doc. Somewhere, my ex thought that (and I’m not really sure why he thought this) a post-doc was going to be a ‘real job’ in which I worked 9-5.

    I still have the rings. He didn’t want them. I even have his, which, if I have it cut open, I could wear as a bracelet.

    • 14 December 2012 09:28

      I agree that major life events are shaking to relationships. And it’s not about the strength of a relationship that tells whether it’ll survive or not. It’s about the flexibility of the people prior. And sometimes, survival isn’t the best option.

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