“The greatest act of faith some days is to simply get up and face another day.”
– Amy Gatliff, The Power to Never Give Up
One of the most urgent and difficult steps in my grieving process was finding a qualified therapist with whom I would feel comfortable and whose services, with luck, health insurance would mostly cover.
Blindsided by Divorce: Unexpected Abandonment
As we were driving to one of the family-owned lake houses to visit his dying brother, my husband unexpectedly told me that he was “done with the marriage and didn’t want to talk about it.” I had been immobilized by shame and grief since receiving this shocking news, so I knew it was imperative that I find a therapist who was a “perfect fit” for me.
On the morning of the appointment, I dressed and left hours earlier than necessary, thinking I would fool myself into making an outing of this experience. I would explore all the little shops and restaurants surrounding the office. I was unable to distract myself as long as I’d hoped to, and I arrived more than an hour ahead of schedule, nearly hyperventilating and on very shaky knees.
I parked and stepped out of the car. Walking through the door took all my strength. I was about to relate the humiliating story of what a terrible person I was and how I had destroyed a perfect marriage by being selfish and mean.
The receptionist, the kindest woman I may have ever met, warmly welcomed me into a cozy, homelike environment. She spoke to me in the soothing voice typically reserved for calming young children and frightened animals as she began to take down my personal information. Feeling a bit of confidence and offering a timid smile as I reached into my wallet for my insurance cards – I had a primary and a secondary provider – I received a knowing smile in return as she informed me that the doctor took no insurance. The fee was $200 per session.
When You Know You Need Help, But Can’t Afford It
That instant became one of the unforgettable moments of my ordeal. I had existed in a mostly vegetative state for the weeks following my husband’s unexpected and unexplained departure. I knew that I could not work through this on my own. I had used every bit of strength and reserve I could muster to find a therapist and get myself to the appointment. I collapsed at the knowledge of an error in updated information and knew that at those prices, this doctor was not a realistic choice for my budget.
Having plenty of time, I asked for a moment to think. I stepped outside and sat on the wraparound porch. Flowers were blooming, and birds were chirping as I tried hard not to break down into tears. I did not have the strength to go forward another day on my own.
Finding Courage When You’ve Been Blindsided by Divorce
I went back inside. I explained that I would like to keep the appointment after all. I would mail a check to the office immediately upon my return home. I was calmly assured that it was not a worry. Indeed, the receptionist would be looking for another fit for me, someone even closer to my home and who would take my insurance.
True to her word, she did just that – even scheduling an appointment and putting me on a waiting list for an earlier appointment date if an opening were to become available. Everything was settled before the current session had begun. There was a reason I had arrived early.
Suddenly, it was time for the appointment. Taking a very deep breath and tightly gripping the banister, I climbed the flight of stairs to a second-floor parlor. A petite woman with a warm smile and welcoming demeanor shook my hand while introducing herself to me. She offered me a seat in a wing chair adjacent to hers, in front of a cozy fireplace.
If You Were Blindsided by Divorce, the Fault May Lie in Your Spouse’s Communication Skills
Crisscrossing my feet beneath me, fighting back tears, and continuing to focus on the fireplace, I began to tell my story as accurately and objectively as possible while the doctor typed away on her iPad, taking down every word.
When I reached the part when we were in the car on the way to the lake house for that sad family reunion with my husband’s family, there was total silence as her fingers stopped flying across the keyboard. Moments passed, and, for the first time, from an objective professional, I heard the words: “This is not about you. People with abandonment issues are not good communicators.”
I continued to tell my story, hearing it again from start to finish and realizing that it all sounded unimaginable. Trying to regain a bit of dignity and inject a touch of humor after taking up far longer than the time allowed for the session, I asked this wonderful human being who might play my role in this made-for-TV drama. Giving me another warm smile and embracing me in a hug, the therapist pulled back, looked me in the eye, and responded, “A woman with the utmost dignity.”
This article has been edited and excerpted from Two Minus One: A Memoir (She Writes Press, 2018) by Kathryn Taylor. Her book describes how she slowly began to find her way out of intense grief after her sudden abandonment by her second husband. Over the course of two years, through appointments with attorneys and therapists and pushing herself to meet new people and do new things, she slowly regained a sense of control over her life. Two Minus One is one woman’s journey to build a new life she has built, form new friendships, and to savor her newfound strength after being blindsided by divorce. Available at Amazon.com on November 6.