I went through the divorce mill and came out the other side feeling better for it. However, it was not plain sailing. The breakup was tough, really tough. Firstly, I was shocked to learn that my wife was having an affair. It hit me like a train; I was torn apart. Secondly, divorce was not in my script at all, so when I saw my marriage crumbling beyond repair after nearly twenty years together and three kids, I was totally disoriented.
In fact, my whole life disintegrated. My family was in tatters; I was no longer a husband or life-partner and was struggling to remain a father. I lost all sense of who I was and my confidence plummeted. I felt completely deskilled instead of the reasonably competent person I had been. Every one of my accounts was called in – I stood naked at the counter of life. For me this was loss on a grand scale. Most of all, I felt emasculated and impotent in all senses.
Somehow I managed to turn the situation around. It took time, of course, and I was fortunate to have help, in the form of therapy. The therapy helped me to rebuild my confidence, to start believing in myself and to put myself center-stage. I shed a lot of my emotional armor and began to develop an awareness of my feelings. This fundamentally changed the way I functioned, shifting me from being ‘in my head’ to being ‘in my heart’ more; from looking out to looking inward. I gradually came to the realization that “it’s all in me”, that we see the world as we are, not as it is.
As I lifted the lid on my emotions and got in touch with my anger and my grief, so I found it easier to deal with my situation, particularly vis-à-vis my ‘wife’. I moved from a position of feeling weak and powerless to one in which I felt passionate and powerful. This turnaround stood me in good stead throughout our protracted divorce. In addition, I got the whiff of freedom in my nostrils; colors suddenly seemed brighter, smells sharper. My kingdom was smaller but at least it was mine; I was in charge of my own life. I learned to enjoy my unmediated contact with my children and not having to consult another person constantly. When my wife was away there was a welcome feeling of calm, relaxation and ease in the house that I came to appreciate.
My battered ego was given a boost once I started dating other women. I began to feel like a sexually attractive man, something I had not felt in relation to my wife, even in relatively good times. Just going for a walk and holding hands with a new woman was exciting. Naturally, I did not hit it off with every new woman I met, but I did with a few, which was enough to show me that alternatives existed. There are lots of fish in the sea.
With hindsight, I can see that what initially seemed like a double blow – my wife’s betrayal coupled with the sense of abandonment I felt as a child of ten when my mother died – eventually became a transformative experience for me. The change I underwent allowed me to enter into an exhilarating and loving relationship with the woman of my dreams.
While in the throes of divorce, I was sure my days of despair would never end. But as my story indicates, there is a way through the trauma of a breakup. Handled correctly and with a bit of help it can lead to better things. Better than you ever imagined.