My Brutal Divorce Ended Up Being My Biggest Fairytale

No one was more shocked than me.

Woman looking at island from boat, fairy tale optop, capturenow | Canva

“He’s the love of my life,” I said.

“You know,” said my friend. “There’s more than one love in this life for all of us.”

I heard her words but was horrified. I’m a dreamer and a fairy tale girl. When you enter my beach house the words are there to prove it. The foyer is adorned with feel-good signs but my favorite is…

“Fairy tales do come true.”

I’m a believer.

But my suburban castle is crumbling. 


RELATED: Why My Divorce Was The Best Thing I Ever Did

My college sweetheart was enraged when I shared a few simple feelings with him. Or should I say when I thought I was communicating with him?

“It feels lonely being married to you,” I said. “I’m not happy. I dream about meeting someone who will care about me one day.”

Who Knew Divorce Would End Up Being My Fairy Tale?Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock


Did I know my husband loved me? Absolutely. Intellectually, I never questioned that. Did I think he had a wandering eye? Never. Did I think he wanted to leave me? No. But there was an emptiness between us.

Socially we had a lot of fun but there was zero emotional intimacy.

This worked for me until it didn’t. 

And there was a bigger problem. There were two sides to my husband. He was charming and wonderful. He could also be cold and cruel. His passive-aggressive nature made the latter only come out to play a few times a year. But when it did, it was brutal.

I was no longer willing to tolerate the unhealthy cycle.

I was readying myself to leave him — but I was struggling.


We had built a beautiful family. Still, as the child of divorce, I knew it was healthier to leave.

There is nothing positive about two people staying in a bad situation that’s good for children. It’s a myth married people convince themselves of. I've been on both sides of it. When two parents who don't get along no longer reside in the same home there's peace for everyone in the family.

RELATED: 19 Truths About Divorce That Will Make You Feel Better

I was free of guilt in some ways on the divorce front.

But then my husband started uncharacteristically drinking because he was angry that I’d shared my feelings. He called it a betrayal. Our marriage counselor told him, “Colleen was just sharing her feelings.”


“She betrayed me,” repeated my husband.

“Do you think Colleen would cheat on you?” asked our marriage counselor.

“Oh, no never,” said my husband. “Colleen would never do that.”

“Then why are you calling it a betrayal?” asked our marriage counselor.

My husband had no reply.

Who Knew Divorce Would End Up Being My Fairy Tale?Photo: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock


That was when I made my biggest mistake.

I had no guilt about divorcing but I still believed he was the love of my life. Worse, I misinterpreted his drinking. I thought he was having some type of mid-life crisis. How could I abandon him at one of his worst moments?

That was when my suburban castle came crashing down.

That was when I made terrible mistakes, when I regretted my behavior, and when I began to feel guilty about divorce. Not for the fact it was happening, but because of what my children experienced before it.

That was when the confident, fairy-tales-do-come-true-girl was reduced to a wreck.

When she turned into a woman who was running interference and beginning to doubt herself.


That was when I began to resist the idea of divorce and hold on for dear life. I had stayed too long. It was no longer emotional water under the bridge. I had let the marital problems overflow to flood proportions.

RELATED: 5 Brutally Harsh Lessons Only A Divorce Can Teach You

No one told me if I waited too long from the first thought of divorce, the more difficult it would be.

The girl who was once younger and unthreatened by the idea stayed ten years past her first thought of it.


There no longer seemed to be time to begin a new fairy tale

But the unhappiness enveloped me and I ultimately sought an escape. I still wasn’t particularly worried. The ever-present positive side of me told me I could still dream a new life. But then he wouldn’t divorce me for five years and the aftermath that followed consumed another five years.

Surely, fables, fiction, and fantasy would abandon me permanently.

But when I least expected it divorce ended up being my fairy tale.

I should never have doubted it. I should never have thought otherwise. This writer and former damsel in distress should have been wiser. Fairy tales aren’t about a number, years, or age.


They are about overcoming obstacles and an overarching lesson.

They are about magic.

They are about happily ever afters and I've finally found mine.

RELATED: 3 Not-As-Obvious Reasons Divorce May Be The Best Thing To Ever Happen To You

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.