Read this reader’s email below, followed by my divorce advice:
I’m not entirely sure what to say other than the fact that I’m pretty much drowning in my sorrows and worried and hopeless due to my divorce. Not that my situation is extremely terrible but it just feels so overwhelming. I want to cry every time I think about it. I tear up at work and in the car and at church and right now.
The self-pity is the worst of it though… I’ll look back on my emotional moments and think “what the hell’s wrong with you, it’s not like you’ve lost a child or anything.” In my rational state I can calmly think about where I am, what’s going to happen next and what my future will look like, and by future I mean tomorrow evening.
I’m going to be paying child support. I don’t make much money to begin with and now I’m making half that. How do I function in this world under the poverty line? There’s so much more to this but right now but I’m very focused on my future and where I’m going to live and when I will see my kids and where we all will live together and what quality of life could I provide now for them. What do guys do in this situation? Am I doing this wrong? Do people actually live like this on so little? I mean these questions in all sincerity. If I can survive like this then cool, but how?
It is letters like this that made me so very sad, because I want to hug you and tell you that everything is going to be OK, and I know right now that is very hard for you to believe.
The first thing I want to say is, it is perfectly OK to cry and tear up. You are mourning a loss, and in addition to the sadness, expressing anxiety and fear and anger and resentment and frustration and many many other emotions that seem as you wrote, “overwhelming.”
“What the hell’s wrong with you? It’s not like you’ve lost a child or anything.” This statement makes me mad. Why? Because you are allowed to mourn this and feel self-pity for awhile. That is what you should be doing. Getting divorced is no small thing.
Remember that movie, “Crazy, Stupid Love?” where the guy was crying and he told his co-workers he was going through a divorce and they all respond, “Oh, thank God, we thought you had cancer!” I thought that was a great example of how people don’t realize that just because you don’t have a fatal disease or your kid died, that doesn’t you aren’t allowed to feel something for what is happening.
Another example, last year I had surgery and when I went in for my follow up appointment, I said to my doctor, “That wasn’t really as bad as I thought it was going to be.” His response: “Yes it was. You had MAJOR surgery. It was like you got hit by a bus!” In other words, it WAS a big deal, yet I didn’t feel like I had the right to admit that because of all these other people I know who have way bigger health issues than me.
What I’m saying is, don’t compare your divorce to other people’s tragedies. This is a tragedy in your life and you have every right to be pissed and upset about it.
Lastly, let me address the money thing. I completely understand you and so does every other person who ever got divorced. It is very scary and a very real concern. The only thing I can say to you is that you will find a way. You are a loving, caring parent and you will make sure to provide for your kids in a good way. I can just tell by your email.
All you can do is do your job as best you can and with all your heart and try to advance your career. Keep your ethical standards and try to have passion and really care about what you do. That’s all anyone can do. I think the money follows that attitude.
Also, maybe try to find a way to cut out some unnecessary expenses. I just did that and man, it’s hard but it’s worth a look. Even if you can save a few hundred a month, it will help.
I know everything seems unmanageable right now. And I know that tomorrow your focus will be on another worry—besides money. Maybe you will be worried about your kids, or maybe you will find out your ex-wife is dating someone. There is a whole host of things to worry about during divorce and I am sure you will experience them all. That sounds really mean, but please don’t take it that way. It’s just reality. Now, want to hear the good part?
There will also be really really great, unexpected things that will happen to you on this road. You will meet amazing friends and people you connect with, you might meet a woman down the road and fall in love beyond what you ever thought your heart was capable of. You might have financial opportunities that were unexpected. And the best thing, you will realize how strong and capable you are of so many things you never realized—caring for your children, providing for them, loving someone, staying strong. I promise that good things are in your future.
Big big hugs and please stay strong. And, if you need to cry it is OK! xo