Divorce really does turn your world upside down – especially if you’re the one who got left instead of the one doing the leaving. I think the hardest part of my divorce was the incessant uncertainty I felt about… everything! I felt like a man walking on a tightrope and struggling to keep my balance.
If you’ve been in a similar predicament, here’s some help on rebuilding your career and life after divorce.
Divorce and Disequilibrium: When the Rug is Yanked Out From Under You
We are creatures of habit. When you’ve been married for many years, you get accustomed to the routine. There’s a certain sense of security that only comes from having a partner to help you when times are bad and cheer you on when times are good. I was married for nearly ten years, although we were together for 14. Fourteen years! I never knew just how much I relied on my ex. Without even realizing it, you come to depend on your partner for numerous important things in life. Mortgages, bills, cooking, cleaning: these are adult activities that are more easily handled by two than one.
So when the rug gets yanked out from under you, nothing makes sense anymore. You float through those first few months like a ghost, just going through the motions. I barely remember those first few months. I had to find a new place to live, pay bills, cook, and clean – and I had to do it alone. Even worse, I had to do it alone while feeling worse about my life than I ever had before.
Divorce and Disequilibrium: Lifestyle and Sense of Security
I’ve gotten through many of the challenges I faced since we split up, but now I’m battling with the one I’ve really been dreading: finances. My ex-spouse works in the tech industry and makes good money; I work in the writing industry and don’t. I was used to our lifestyle and the sense of security her job provided. In 2009, I moved with my ex from California to Ohio (a move I didn’t want to make) so she could finish the degree she’d started years before I met her. By the time we moved back to the west coast, she was getting job offers with drool-worthy salaries. In the intervening years, and without me even realizing it, everything became about her. Her career, her friends, and her family. She kept advancing in her career while mine stagnated. But I didn’t let it get to me – I was proud of her success.
Divorce and Disequilibrium: You Have to Focus and Adapt
I now realize that I should have been focusing more on myself: my career and my goals. The unfortunate thing I’ve learned post-divorce is that you can’t count on anybody. Not really. Your spouse might make great money, but never forget; it’s their money. If you’re not the main breadwinner and your marriage goes south, so does your financial situation. When mine fell apart, I suddenly felt like the stereotypical 1960s housewife who’d stood by her man and watched his career blossom. After divorce, that stay-at-home mom has to start all over again – but she’s missed out on critical years spent building her career.
Now I’ve had to adapt to living in a state of constant financial struggle. I can barely afford my mortgage, bills, and student loans. I worry about my future constantly. This is most definitely not how I envisioned my life as a 44-year old man. I’ve battled with depression, my weight has fluctuated (first I lost; then I gained), and I generally feel unhealthier than I did when I was married. But I’m still chugging along.
Accept and Embrace Your Career and Life After Divorce
I’m trying to rebuild my career and life after divorce at an age when most people are comfortable and imagining their retirement. I moved from a nice house on a quaint cul-de-sac into a 500-square-foot apartment on the bad side of town. It doesn’t seem fair, but, like everyone says these days, “it is what it is.” You can never move forward if you’re living in the past. All I can do is start rebuilding and embracing the positives in my new life. I’m alive, I have a roof over my head, and I don’t go hungry. I’ve met new friends, dated a lot, and had meaningful relationships – and best of all, I’m living life through my own lens again.