This I Believe

Alison - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Entered on December 6, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: change, family

I believe divorce can be a beginning, and not just an end. When “forever” becomes oppressive, the people who once vowed to stay together for a lifetime should see divorce as the chance to take new paths that can lead to healthier and happier futures apart.

I never thought I’d get divorced, but I also know now that for many of the years I spent with my ex-husband, the eight we lived together before our wedding, and the six after, something was wrong.

With hindsight, I realized that for years, I had been in an eternal holding pattern. I was a plane that constantly circled the airport, waiting for clearance to land. Sometimes I got the go ahead to line up on the runway and drop my wheels, but then I would be told to return to the holding pattern, looking down on everyone else who got to land, and get on with their lives.

Over time, our lives changed as we changed countries and the details of our homes and jobs. Change, however major, was always confined to the external. Internally however, the overwhelming constant was denial.

Satisfied to get my happiness in a shot glass, I watched as others drank steadily from a large punch bowl. I suppressed all of the emotions and questions that raged through me until finally, I stopped questioning anything or wishing silently for anything better, and was simply left with a nagging sadness.

I became detached from myself, yet successful at work. I exuded the appearance of living a wonderful life. But inside, slowly but surely, that nagging sadness turned into a deep and dark depression.

A few days after my sixth wedding anniversary, I went to see a therapist. At my first appointment, I told her I was there to save my marriage, explained that my husband wasn’t happy and I needed to make him happy. I did not, and was completely unable to consider my own happiness.

As the weeks went by, and we discussed my feelings of suicide, the options of taking Prozac, or checking myself into a psychiatric facility, I began to chip away at the numerous causes to my depression and failing marriage including long buried abuse and severe co-dependency. Over the following painful months, choices began to emerge, hope slowly appeared and new ways of behaving and living appeared within my grasp.

Sixteen months after that first appointment, after couples counseling, a weekend away and countless tearful confessions of guilt, betrayal, mistakes and misunderstandings, I left my marriage – totally confident that I had made the right choice – life would be better single.

I am a different person today because of my divorce, a happier, and a more confident and wiser woman. I believe divorce is the last resort – a path to take when all other options and choices have been exhausted. But for myself, and for others, I believe divorce can help leave sadness behind and should be seen as a chance to take a new path to hope and happiness in the future.