Once you can handle divorce, you figure any break-up after is a piece of cake. If it ends, it ends, I’ve already been through hell and back so what’s a little heartache to add to the soul.
Like diets without effort and stilettos that promise to be comfy, this is a bold faced lie.
The post-divorce break up can hurt, in some ways more than divorce itself. Divorce is the end of something that wasn’t working but the next relationship is the promise of renewed hope. It’s the hope that romantic love is still out there for you, that someone is willing to accept and adore you and your crazy and the inane idiosyncrasies that make you you – the idiosyncrasies you thought made you unlovable. The post divorce relationship is vindication that the end of the marriage was the right choice, even if it wasn’t yours. It tells everyone who ever hated on you for your choices, decisions and post-divorce haircut that they were wrong. It says that love is not an esoteric ideal available to the select lucky few, but rather it’s an attainable goal that can be reached with hard work and self love.
I must mention that the post-divorce relationship I am referring to is not to be confused with the rebound relationship designed to provide external validation to your broken self. I am referring to the post bad decision phase; the relationship that you approach with a strong sense of a self, contentment in your soul and your therapist in your mind.
The relationship is embedded with so many hopes that have nothing to do with the actual relationship itself. Hopes which have the potential to weigh it down from day one if we aren’t self aware. This aside, being in a relationship is just nice. Knowing someone is looking out for you, someone who will, hopefully, wear heinously nerdy couples t-shirts with you, someone who knows exactly how you like your coffee and can interpret your mood through text. Those inane little details that matter to someone bring us so much comfort and warmth. The feeling of not going at life alone, having your person. It’s having someone to go to family events with and that feeling of belonging somewhere with someone.
Having to put on your big girl underpants and end this post-divorce relationship can feel impossible. What if there isn’t anyone else? What if it’s as good as it gets? What if I’m making a mistake? What if my gut just had bad Chinese food and is tricking itself?? Coming to terms with this decision, acknowledging the decision and its ramifications to yourself takes immeasurable inner strength. This is the ability to stand up for yourself and admit this isn’t working. As much as you love the emotional, personal and societal comforts of a relationship, you haven’t come this far just to come this far.
That takes a very different kind of strength than divorce. A quieter, more resilient type of inner, self-made strength. Not the strength that comes from not having any other choice, rather the strength that is full of choice and power.