I’ve been divorced now for nearly 8 weeks and aside from getting used to my new name, (after much consideration I’ve gone back to Miss Williams as I just couldn’t get my head around using the Mrs title when by law I was no longer married) I’ve also had time to reflect on what it actually feels like to get divorced. Now bear in mind that mine had been pretty easy compared to some of the stories I’ve heard, but none the less, it was still a process I went through.
Looking back over the year it took, from the day I sat in the solicitor’s office and told her why I wanted a divorce, to the day I received my Decree Absolute, I’ve now realised just how much of a monumental journey it was. There’s no denying that divorce is going to stir emotions, no matter how happy you are about your new life ahead, there will be days when you feel like a failure.
Nothing like inviting 100 people to a party, accepting all their presents, spending silly money on a dress you’ll wear once and then saying.
“Oh by the way, we made a mistake. Sorry we wasted your time, but hope you had a good day.”
It all feels a little false now looking back like everyone was pretending; playing a game where we all get dressed up. I said those vows for life, we’d made a family and that was that. Only it wasn’t, and I’ve now spent the same amount of money rectifying that mistake. When I see couples celebrating 50 years marriage, I can’t help feeling a little sadness in the reality that it’s very doubtful I’ll ever reach that milestone, divorce has made me see marriage very differently and If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, its that divorces can cost more than weddings.
And another thing, don’t expect your solicitor to be your confidant, friend or counsellor. They’re there to do a job, it’s a business arrangement and at times it felt more like they were making things more complicated just to eek out a bit more money from me. I learnt quickly to try to keep things simple just to get the job done as quickly and cheaply as possible. While they are the professionals, I wasn’t convinced they had my best interests at heart. Emotions just don’t come into it.
Now that’s the bad stuff out the way, let’s crack on to the surprises…. in all honesty, it was never as bad or as complicated as I imagined.
The kids will be alright
My children seemed to take the transition very well. I never talked about what was happening, kept everything age appropriate and checked in regularly to see if things were ok. I had amazing advice from other parents who’d been through a divorce and followed their advice. My boys proved that they were much more resilient than I’d given them credit for, swapping houses every other weekend became the norm very quickly.
You get a new lease of life!
And that’s a biggie. That’s something I NEVER anticipated. The 1st few months were spent doing things just for me, something I’d never done before. I booked haircuts in my child-free days, I recycled most of my clothes and started again. I joined the gym and embraced a much healthier lifestyle. Not having someone else to think about at meal times meant I could cook what I liked, the boys tried new foods and joined me on the healthy bandwagon.
We ended up changing our whole daytime routine, totally relaxing the rules.
Days out were no longer confined to getting home at 5 pm to cook dinner, evening baths moved to morning showers and weekends were relaxed and impulsive. My breakthrough moment came the morning after a night out, as my foggy, hungover head cleared and I processed the fun from the night before. I realised the biggest change in me so far, aside from the confidence and optimism that I could do anything I set my mind to, I realised I’d started doing something I hadn’t done in a very long time; I danced.
A good night out for me now consisted of well and truly letting my hair down and strutting some questionable mum moves on the dancefloor while laughing and singing. I was finally just me, I can’t tell you why I’d never felt comfortable dancing before, but now the rhythm swept me up in a way where I just didn’t care who was watching or what they were thinking.
I danced like no one was watching,
apart from Hayley. Hayley was watching – my partner in crime, the lady to my right, doing equally dodgy moves. And were we bovvered? Nah.
You’ll gain friends and get used to being on your own
(see above ) I was amazed at the people who rallied around me in the early days, people became incredibly selfless and supportive for which I am eternally grateful. You do find you gravitate a little towards other singletons or divorcees as you have something in common, and while I may have lost a husband, I gained a few more fabulous friends.
I’m not going to lie, the thought of being on my own at first terrified me. It was 20 years since I’d been on my own and not even sure you can count it that as I was living at home, so technically, I’d NEVER been on my own. I can count on one hand the evenings I spent in my house without my ex.
I struggled the most when after my children left to go stay with their dad, that first hour was a killer, but I had a strategy in place and pretty soon I started to enjoy the moments it was just me to think about. Then, when my boys come home I refreshed and revitalised ready for the next round of solo parenting.
And the evenings when I do have company I love it, but also appreciate the nights in on my own; sitting in bed with a glass of wine and a movie. I was told these days would come and scoffed at the thought of ever being comfortable on my own, but they do. And when the time comes to share my home with another consenting adult, I have no doubt in my mind that the process will be equally strange to get used to; requiring a new carefully thought out strategy, compiled after intense telephone calls, What’s App messages and wine-fuelled debates with the same friends who guided me through the early months of being single.
Finances will not be as scary as you anticipated
I simply couldn’t see how I’d cope financially with only one wage coming in, the maths just didn’t add up. My home was mortgaged, I worked and loved my job so going on benefits was never an option and yet I didn’t want to put my children in full-time childcare, or for my older kids to be coming home to an empty house every night if I worked full time.
But is financial help for single parents; tax credits and other benefits (such as single adult occupancy council tax) which you’re entitled to, I was lucky that I could work from home & juggle my job around my family. Being on my own every night also meant I could work in the evening or on the weekends I was childfree.
The negative is I’m limited to the events I can attend in the evening as my childcare is pretty much just my mum but I still managed to retrain and study as well as work for the first 9 months. The sheer determination to be able to provide for my boys as well as keep a roof over our heads being the driving factor.
I sat down and went through all my incomings and outgoings, working out where I could make cuts. It’s also a lot bloody easier to keep track of your finances when you’re the only one spending. Websites like https://www.gingerbread.org.uk were invaluable.
And one final word about divorce …
Please don’t for one minute think that I’m trying to sugar coat divorce, it sucks, end of. I’ve not shared this with you to champion the end of rocky patches in marriage, I still stand by my belief that relationships require work, they go through good times and bad.
You will know when those bad times become unpatchable though, and that 2 happy homes are better than one sad. If that’s you, I’m sorry you’ve reached that point and would like to think this gives you a little hope that things aren’t as bad as you think they will be.
Here’s my divorce journey if you’d like to read more;