What does it feel like when your long-term marriage is suddenly over?
I would have to say that the feeling is comparable to being laid off from a job that you’ve been doing twenty four hours a day for over twenty years.
You’ve been humming along, learning and adapting to new situations and new environments as they came your way, doing all of the new training that was expected of you. Putting all of your energy into being the best that you can be, at the one job that you’ve been lead to believe is your “forever job”, even after retirement, only to be told one day that you are no longer needed.
Or even worse, that you are replaceable. Just like that.
Thank you for your service, leave your keys on the desk, and there’s the door.
And as that door closes behind you, you stand outside numb with disbelief, blinking in the glaring sunlight, still wondering what just happened, but there really isn’t any good explanation.
You’re just no longer a good fit. They’re moving in a new direction. Without you.
That’s what that first year during our separation felt like, for the most part. Walking around in a state of numbness, dazed and confused most of the time, wondering what just happened. Was it just a bad dream? This wasn’t what I was working towards, or had included as part of my life plan. Ever.
And there really isn’t an unemployment office to go to to look for this type of work right away. Even if there was, you really can’t take on a new job right now because you’re still responsible for many of the parts of your old job, plus the added bonus of managing this strange new world of divorce.
To handle the experience of divorce you will have to learn all of the new divorce lingo, how to find information that you never knew existed, and be available on any given day to sit at a very long table for hours on end. Reading drafts of long documents written in what sounds like a foreign language sometimes, looking for errors big and small, and negotiating every last detail of your life to put into a contract will be part of your new responsibilities.
And don’t forget the emails! Reading and responding to all of the new emails, from all of these newly hired professionals, as well as your soon to be ex, those will fill your inbox each and every day.
It’s as if you’ve already taken on another job!
Maybe there should be an unemployment office, for newly separated/divorced people to go to during that time. A time when you are so down about yourself, and just plain disappointed in life, that you need a time out. A time that you are feeling so overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of the challenge of disconnecting yourself from this life you’ve lived for so long, and so disgusted with all of it, that you can barely deal with the loss much less the idea of moving forward.
You need an oasis. A divorce oasis.
I picture it painted in soothing tones of blues and having nice, comfortable couches. The kind of couches you can just sink into with a pillow on your lap, or fall asleep and take a nap, because at this juncture in your life stress can keep you awake many long nights, but it can also put you to sleep many long days. They call it a defense mechanism, I call it depression, but whatever it you call it there should be comfy couches.
There will be private rooms that are sound-proofed for those days that you need to just scream, or cry uncontrollably, or shut yourself off from the world to catch your breath and clear your head.
No kids running in at your worst moments, no phones ringing, or emails chiming on your phone reminding you of the million things you are expected to keep doing regardless of the fact that your life is unraveling. Just a small room with a chair and maybe a bed, a side table with Kleenex and water.
Because all of that crying, screaming and unbelievable stress can be dehydrating.
Another area would have a bar, of course, as if that was even an option not to have one! You can’t go through this without at least a couple of shots, or margaritas, to blur the lines every once in awhile. (at least I couldn’t)
And lots of snacks, not the healthy kind either. You allowed – even expected – to give in to your cravings and comforts when you’re here. So bring on the chips, the dips, the bacon wrapped anything. Bring on the fried foods, and the chocolate covered everything!
Nobody will judge you, or suggest (with arched eyebrows) that you should be ‘eating healthy right now to be the best version of yourself during this horrible time’ here.
No. The people at the divorce oasis get it.
Obviously there will be therapists and counselors. Some will be like a warm bath-wrap you up in a cocoon-rock you to sleep types, offering you herbal tea and a blanket while you talk. Soothing your concerns, repairing your soul. Hugging you. Often and tight.
Others will be the get down to the nitty gritty-come up with a game plan-and pull it together type. They will have plans, charts, white boards and excel spreadsheets to prepare you for this new unknown territory. They will make sure that you know about the challenges coming your way, how to take them on successfully, and come out of this fire with only a few minor burns.
They will push you out of your comfort zone, for all of the right reasons.
It’s your choice on who you want to talk to too, based upon your needs that day and at that very moment. Those moments change often, even in the same day, so better to have both counseling style options available under one roof.
A divorce oasis is exactly what you need after you’ve been laid off from this job, the job that was your life. Maybe that’s what my next career move should be, opening up the first divorce oasis. With the way the divorce rate is increasing for “gray divorce” I think I may have franchise possibilities.