Divorce is hard at any stage. Any age. But divorce in midlife, a grey divorce, is a different kind of hard. It’s midlife hard. Often, it’s year and years of marriage hard.
What I see when I look in the eyes of so many divorced women is how divorce has defined them. No thanks to society, divorce in midlife is “throwing it all away”, “ruining the family”, “giving up”, “taking the easy way out” — when in reality, many women have fought like hell, turned themselves inside out trying everything under the sun — while others were blindsided and left to pick up the pieces after divorce.
“please disregard the naysayers”
In our society, divorce has defined them as broken, failed — less than.
I remember jokingly telling my divorced friends we should all get sweaters with an embroidered red letter “D” on them — you know, the Scarlett letter?
I am here to tell you, please disregard the naysayers. Ignore the marital tax benefits, after all you had them for 20+ years — your eyes are open to what society wants to peg you as after divorce. And now, your own body is feeling what YOU think you must believe after divorce.
Broken. Struggle. Failure. Fear:
I’ll come back to these valid emotions. But first, let me share a vision with you.
Not long after my divorce from a marriage of 22 years at age 47, I listened to Dr. Sheffali, a marriage and family therapist, describe marriage. She said, “Marriage is the space between two people”. Sitting in my grief as I was, I imagined my ex and I with the space between us…connecting us. Then I saw him disappear and that space? It just stretched before me and fell into an abyss.
Vast. Dismal. Abyss.
Dr. Sheffali’s point was that marriages are a point in time. A relationship with a beginning and an end. Yes, some marriages end when a spouse dies. Others though, end with divorce. The space, the connection between the two people is gone, the marriage is over. It had a beginning and an end.
That Is OK:
The idea that marriages should last forever is ludicrous. They should last as long as they do. Period.
This reframe on marriage, on “good marriages” and “broken marriages”, spoke to me. This made me realize you can define your divorce.
I had a marriage. Nobody could take that from me. It ended. And that’s ok.
My family wasn’t broken. It was just…different.
I FELT broken. I was grieving. And yet…I wasn’t broken. I was healing.
And that vision? That space between myself and my ex? Suddenly, in that space where he was missing, I saw EXPANSION. POSSIBILITY.
Vast. Open. Possibility:
I still had, as you do too, emotions to feel and work through. I do not believe in emotional bypassing. No need to sugar coat the feelings after divorce and put a positive “spin” on grief.
But…that small reframe in my thoughts about divorce? It gave me comfort. It ignited a spark of juicy expectation. I knew I had to grieve and feel all that was inside me and yet I KNEW I did not want to LIVE THERE.
I Had New Expectations When It Comes To Divorce:
That life CAN be good, even great, after divorce.
That this was an opportunity to dive into more of myself than I ever have.
That grief is painful yes — but in feeling my emotions, allowing them to burrow their way OUT from where I had pushed them to burrow IN after years and years of trying to look “good on paper” — I would gain I new sense of freedom and bravery I had neglected to allow myself to feel in all of my adult years.
Decision To Divorce:
“from here on out, you GET to be responsible for yourself”
So, as we connect here in the Kuel Life world, as you navigate your decision to divorce in midlife or as you navigate life after, please know this: You are not alone. You are supported. And, from here on out, you GET to be responsible for yourself.
I know it’s crazy scary. I really do. For some of you, it means going back to work or needing to really uplevel your career. For many, it means living alone for the first time in 20-30 years. Others, like me, are navigating teens and young adults and your own business.
For ALL Of You, I Leave You With This —
Having complete responsibility for your life CAN feel like an opportunity and possibility when you CHOOSE to believe it is. You get to decide what divorce looks like. So tell me, “What will you DO with your one wild and precious life?”
Thank you, Mary Oliver!
You don’t have to have it all figured out. There will be ups and downs and obstacles along the way. But just start here. Start with the definitionYOU want to believe. You get to choose. So, just decide.
Opportunity or abyss? I hope you’ll join me on the path to possibility. Remember you get to define your divorce.
About the Author:
Jenn Krusinski is a Holistic Life Coach, mom to three feminist and highly opinionated daughters and a woman who found herself at the crossroads of Midlife + Divorce at 47. After feeling her way through the grief and doing “all the things” to come out the other side still standing, Jenn decided it was time to switch gears and work with women like her who want to reimagine life after divorce — Becoming WHOLE, IGNITED and BRAVE! You can follow Jenn’s “real talk” on Instagram instagram.com/jennkrusinski and find out more about her coaching programs — Be Crazy Brave and Let Shit Go at jennkrusinski.com.