I had coffee with an old friend yesterday. He was divorced from his wife about 4 years ago. His two kids live him and the ex comes visiting once in a while. He looked contented with his work and life.
We talked about work, kids, the garden, weather, our cats and somehow veered off course to my current situation. I told him that eventhough I feel fine now and not so much a bitter woman as how I was, somehow at times I feel helpless and a sudden pang of loneliness would swipe in. He commented on how I look now – slimmer (I lost close to 8 kg in 2 months), calmer, prettier. And the most important thing is, I look happier.
After his divorce, my friend went through the usual emotional roller coaster as what usually happens to newly divorced couples. It took him a long time to re adjust his life and his emotions. After 4 years, he is much wiser now and feels that it his calling to advice me on how to handle all these.
“You can cry, shout, do whatever you want , Hanie“, he said, “But, you must have a time frame to do this otherwise you will get carried away and you are lost to the world”. And that was what I did before. Weeks following my impending divorce, I cried my eyeballs out. I locked the door to make sure Lyn didnt know what her mom was up to. I opened up the wardrobe to my ex’s and picked a few choiced shirts, with a pair of scissors in hand. I only stopped when the stupid scissors snapped while re decorating his black Armani jeans with some patterns on the knees.
But, I felt fine afterwards, it was like some sort of pain therapy. And the bitterness and hatred were gone.
My friend told me also that it will take a while before I will be one with myself again and that noone can do this except me. The minute I can embrace this episode without ever looking back with bitterness, that is when I am whole again, and that I have arrived home. You have to be happy with yourself then only you can be happy with someone else.
I asked him has he arrived yet?
”Oh yes”, he said with a grin on his face, “Ive arrived home”.
Eventhough my entire episode is not exactly over yet but somehow with strong encouragements and support from friends, I have managed to pull through without being a mad, ranting woman. I have managed to stay calm and making very focussed decisions in my private and business life. I have attributed this to the fact that I am aware of my situation and taking proactive actions on how to improve the situations. I also learn that eventhough I have been known as the business savvy-other-half, they dont know that I have sacrificed this by being the idiot in the financial aspects of running the household. Looking back, I realised I didnt even know how to fill in the Income Tax Form, how the cable billing works, and there are all kinds of online payments. All these were done by my ex. I had to fix the toilet myself. I bought the wrong wattage to my verandah’s light (and learnt a thing or two along the way). Figured how much mileage can a full tank goes. Stuff like that.
I realised now that I wasnt protecting myself with all these knowledge.
For those ladies who are in the same boat as me, or thinking of putting one foot out, listen to me here:
1) First, get your finances in order. TAKE CHARGE of your own finances if you havent done that by now. You need this for the next few months to sustain yourself, more so if you are not working. As much as your ex says he will pay alimony to you, things could go wrong and this dude could just disappear from the face of the earth. And you will be left with the kids, cats, a morgage, the car, other ten gadzillion bills and RM500.00. In my entire 38 years of age, I opened up my very first own checking accounts 3 months back. Go figure. But at least I have taken steps to take charge of my life again.
2) Get a good friendly lawyer. I am lucky enough to have one who is one tough cookie. Bonus point is, she is also a friend. Extra bonus is, her partner is also the business lawyer who is dealing with my business. I snatched him first before the ex gets to him. All in one neat package.
3) Re invent yourself. Get rid of those dresses that he likes but you wore them during those dreary dinners simply because he liked it. You dont have to get his approval anymore. Hell, who needs approval? If you think you need to lose those pounds, do it girls. Trust me, you will feel better and have more confidence in yourself when your body is healthier. Dont forget to eat healthily too! Put on those red scarlet lipsticks. Wear those sexy pink thongs that youve been longing to wear. Once you feel sexy and good, you will exuberate confidence. People will notice. Doors will be opened for you. Paths spread out.
4) Get emotional support from families and friends. Even from your lawyers. But, by no means you need to loud hail to every soul who talks to you. Not every family member is supportive too, and not every friend has the mental and emotional capacity to be a sounding board. Choose carefully. I have been very lucky to have a friend like N who has been there for me. She could be brutal at times with her cajolling and prodding to bring me out from the brink of insanity, but I know she didnt want to see me dead.
5) Focus with what you want to do. Draw out a list of things of your needs and wants. There are differences between the needs and the wants. The needs would looks like these – get finance in order, get a lawyer, new place to stay….The wants would look like this –
kill the ex and gf bigger place to stay, better car next year, rearrange the sofa and so forth.
6) Use all your connections. From that guy who sits behind the travel desk to the Morgage Executive at the bank down right to the Chairman of that company who used to be your lunch buddy. This is good when you are in business like me. It is also necessary as this is the time when you need all of your resources to pull back your life back in track. I make use of my business contacts to open new opportunities and pull back favours people owe me. This is in no way making use of people but you need to get back into reality.
Once you have started doing all of these, you are just steps away from being free from bitterness and to a new YOU!
So, are you home yet?