Just know: It gets better. It really does.
"What’s happening?" you ask.
You went through the ceremony, said all those words, made promises, and went on a honeymoon. Those were real events — physical, real experiences and you took to heart the vows that came out of your mouth.
And then one day, it was over. You discovered the drugs, the girlfriends, his things packed, gone, the locks changed, and she left with the kids. You begin what feels like the worst moments of your life.
It’s such a fragile, frightening place and I’ll admit, at first you’re simply spinning, tethered to immense fear and anxiety searching for answers to something you’ve no idea how to figure out.
When you start to see the marriage you’ve been living (whether you simply can’t take it anymore or if you’re finding out what’s been going on), it feels nearly impossible to look at it as something good. This is good old-fashioned, "I’m freaking out" time.
News flash: you’re going to freak out for some time before you’re ready to see the big picture.
So this particular moment is the beginning of your rite of passage. If you know that your marriage is over, here are 5 things you need to know.
1. You will feel responsible...or feel like the victim.
You’ve been the fish in the fishbowl, unaware of what your life really has been for a long time. Tolerance and your rose-colored glasses make you feel like it’s all you, that the person to blame is you, that you’re responsible for the breakdown... or it's the opposite, that you're 100 percent the victim.
What you don’t get is just how fragmented the agreement has been for a really long time. Having a spouse in your bed, a mortgage, vacations or even family celebrations doesn’t equal partnership, fidelity, or respect.
This is when you begin to grasp the person who’s been your spouse and to take stock of your life. Balancing this new understanding while freaking out and having compassion is difficult.
2. You will want to blame someone.
In the freak-out, it feels as if your reality, your marriage — the thing you believed in and did every day — never really existed. You feel like you’ve been living a fantasy in a house of cards.
You feel duped, used, so unbelievably naive, foolish, stupid, angry, fed-up, and frightened to your core.
You grapple about looking for a reality check because you will go over and over and over the details of your marriage — every nuance, every conversation, every moment, every voice message, every email, everything — until you figure out the lies, catalogue the disrespect, the lack of love all in order to become steady on your feet.
3. You will feel pain.
You don't want to feel the hurt, the anger, loss, panic and the tears, but you will. You really can’t deal with being this wobbly and you’re not in any shape to face the future, never mind being positive and tethered to optimism or experiencing joy.
Knowing this, you’re going to feel weak, unable to get out of bed in the morning or even the opposite, determined to hold it together with a framework of work and family duties. You might waffle between the two while throwing in a few dates.
Remember that you are not alone.
4. You will feel guarded.
Your armor will get thick and you stop trusting everyone. You’ll look around for spies, start using cash, worry that your email is being hacked, that there’s a PI behind you, or that your friends are no longer your friends.
You’ll assume every professional from an attorney to your doctor to your kids’ teachers knew something you didn’t. You’ll assume everyone is lying (including me).
This is the worst part of this part of separating. It’s a very lonely place because, in your pain and shame, you’re pulling in, hiding from others who you think are judging, judging, judging.
Here too, you’re simply creating a lie in order to piece the future together. But, all that’s going on is that your marriage is over.
5. You WILL recover.
Find safe ground. There’s nothing wrong with you. You may have work to do, a LOT of work. You may have to parent, you may have to learn a few skills, change some habits, get some help but you… your passage for your lifetime is just beginning.
In fear and resentment, this is incredibly hard to hear but try to believe that you’re definitely not the only one who’s life has been a mirage.
That’s why I’m optimistic and bold and I champion your courage. This is simply a period of time and you need it.
When you're despondent, you need to take the necessary steps in order to make the torment and the panic go away. In doing so, the aching goes away and you can begin to get better and grow.
The heartache, dread, and awareness have to come first. It’s part of what’s going on. You have to see the truth. Figuring out as much as you can about the lies you’ve been living gives you purpose to get out of bed in the morning.
It also means using the fuel of anger and self-righteousness to propel you into accepting, changing, evolving into who you’re supposed to be.
Laura Bonarrigo is a divorce coach. For her thoughts on love, marriage and separation visit her website.
This article was originally published at laurabonarrigo.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.