Once my husband left I went through a variety of emotions. I remember thinking once, what comes next? I knew there were stages, so I set out to find a chart or wheel, something that would help me see where I was headed. Onward to Google Images!
What I found was the Grief/Loss Wheel. It made total sense to me. I really did follow it. Some stages were days long, others lasted for weeks. I feel that I go backwards sometimes too. In the beginning I experienced the first four stages almost simultaneously. I started a Pinterest board about “Healing” taking its time and as I would revisit it every few weeks/months I would see my growth and my progression on the wheel. At first there were a lot of pins that were pointing fingers and joking about physical harm (“I hope you step on Legos”). As I’d feel things, I’d pin them to the board. Then later, I’d go back and remove what wasn’t true for me anymore. It was liberating when I was able to remove all the “ANGER” pins.
So my experience through the stages…
I was immediately in Denial. I would also use the word “shock” here. I couldn’t believe that my marriage of 11 years was over and, at the time I thought, with no warning signs. I thought about all the things that I was going to lose, the things that were going to change, and that my “normal” was no longer. I was in total denial. NO WAY IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!
At the same time I was so Pissed. Anger is the next step, although I was pretty much angered from the get-go. Once I found out my spouse was cheating . . . and then trying to hide it . . . and then making bad decisions about our children… Angry! Angry! Angry! I was angry at him, her, “them” . . . how could a mother (the other woman) cheat with her married boss who had a family? She had been in my home, met me, shook my hand, and hung out with my children. What type of mother does that?! It took me a very long time to not be angry anymore. Even now, I still have no respect for my ex and the other woman. At least I stopped calling her whore (in my head). That was progress!
Bargaining was really interesting. This happened the first few weeks. I started to to think about what I could’ve done differently and how I could change. I could spend more time with him. Get off my computer, stop watching TV, start loving him more. Kiss him and cuddle with him. All the things he said I didn’t do (so he got it somewhere else). At one point I even typed up a “Plan of Action.” However, like I said in my last post, I’m glad I stopped to think what I wanted, what I really wanted because it wasn’t him and it wasn’t my marriage. Again, I decided to Fly from -not Fight for- my marriage. I am sooooooooo thankful that he didn’t take me up on my plan because I know it would not have changed the outcome, just how long it took us to get there.
Depression happened for the first few months. I started to go to counseling immediately, it made me feel so much better to talk about it all. I didn’t really think I was depressed until my counselor was asking if my eating and sleeping habits had changed and if I was taking care of myself. They had changed and I wasn’t taking care of myself as usual. I also remember not wanting to go work in my store. I just wanted to stay at home and blog and watch TV. Do anything to take my mind off it all.
Once I started really thinking about why my marriage ended, I started to feel Guilty. Guilt that I could have avoided it by being a better wife. I felt guilt that my children were going to come from a divorced home. Guilt that my ex and I had wasted so much of our lives together. I got through this step rather quickly. My counselor had helped me see that even though it wasn’t consensual to end our marriage so abruptly, it was consensual to not fight for it and that guilt wasn’t going to solve anything.
For awhile I was Obsessed. I didn’t want to be with him and I don’t think I was jealous of her. I was just jealous he could move on and at the time I couldn’t. Not to divulge too much info, but I had made a promise to help someone out and I wasn’t going to be able to move on for another several months because of it. Think of it as a job that I held that wouldn’t let me go on with my life as usual. So there I was, at a standstill, while he got to date, love someone, have sex, and enjoy his new found freedom . . . and I couldn’t. My focus was to help my kids survive the separation and be successful with the promise I had made. It was too easy for me to wallow in my situation and obsess about how it wasn’t fair that he could go on and I couldn’t yet.
I think I was able to Accept the situation little by little. I was okay with my marriage ending but it took awhile to accept all the changes I was forced to go through. For me, I think it wasn’t really a cycle (like the picture shows) it was more of a ping pong game. Back and forth, back and forth. Lots of emotions and tons of stuff to work out. As I type this, I haven’t ever been more happy. Several things have happened since I became able to finally move on. The commitment/job was over. I could finally do what my ex was able to do 9 months before I could . . . go out and find the happiness we both deserved.