3:56 AM 22nd January 2022
It's January AKA Divorce Month
As if January wasn’t grim enough, in recent years it has earned an unofficial reputation as ‘divorce month’. 40 plus blogger Claire Marie shares her experience of ending a marriage, and her journey from self-loathing and guilt to authenticity and happiness.
When I first started having doubts about my marriage, I panicked and hated myself. The prospect of ending it was so huge, terrifying and taboo that I went into total denial.
By the time I finally admitted my feelings to myself and gave myself permission to feel them, my self-trust was decimated and I was physically and mentally exhausted. I look at old photos of myself and see how much pain I was in. Bloated and broken by the energy it was taking to lie to myself, I continued to fight for my marriage, for my child to have the family unit I’d had.
And I fought very, very hard. To the point where I didn’t recognise myself. Where I dismissed my feelings and needs as irrelevant. And where I constantly felt like I was going to have a panic attack.
The inevitable happened in November 2014 when I had a very rare moment of clarity. I became acutely aware of the pins and needles that had been increasingly making their way up and down my arms, the palpitations, the feeling of panic, and I knew with final and absolute certainty that I had to act. There was nothing brave about this decision - I literally didn't have a choice.
It was like jumping head-first from a mountain, but in time, the desolation and guilt gave way to the intense relief that only naming and living your truth can bring. I started to feel glimmers of hope that I’d finally be able to discover who I was in my own right and wondering who the ‘real me’ would be was very exciting.
Finally being honest opened so many doors for me. It sounds dramatic, but I felt like a blank canvas that was just starting to be painted on in beautiful, glorious colour.
I'd hated myself for so long but I started to feel that it was ok to be confident in myself, to like myself. And I felt like a significantly better role model to my child than I had ever been.
Nowadays, I date from time to time, but ending my marriage left me with quite bad relationship anxiety that stems from a fear of being trapped and having the responsibility for hurting someone (I've really worked on this and am hoping the worst of it is behind me now). I’m still kind of cynical about 'normal', successful relationships and see them as something that happens to other people, but with all of that said, I’d still like to get married again one day.
I’m fiercely proud of what I’ve achieved on my own and feel very excited about the future. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve now built a life I love as a person in my own right, and as a very proud mum.
To anyone reading this who is frozen by the enormity of what they’re facing, I’d say give yourself plenty of space and time but stay true to yourself. Most importantly, don’t hate yourself like I did. Be kind to yourself because you’re going through something unimaginably hard and there will be reasons why you feel this way, so don’t shoulder all of the responsibility.
It IS possible to heal after divorce, even though for years I didn't think it would be. If this is your path, you’ll come out of it stronger, wiser and more resilient than you ever imagined. And trust me, things feel very different on the other side.
You can find Claire on Instagram and facebook at @my40pluslife.me