The beginning of the end of my marriage occurred on a July night, 2017. In the time since then I have walked through a lifetime of pain and uncertainty. At different moments I suffered from insomnia, crippling anxiety, an IBS flare, anger, fear, and during it all a deep, dark sadness.
Divorcing the father of my three young sons was easily and without a doubt the biggest fear I had in my life. Phil is a great father and he has always been a good friend to me. The crumbling of our marriage was as devastating to me as the crumbling of a marriage is to anyone. I was not relieved when our marriage ended, I was exposed. Exposed to everyone who knew us that what they thought was, wasn’t. Exposed to my son’s that the adults that love them are not perfect. Open to everyone around to criticize and whisper and make their assumptions.
The one thing nobody needs while walking through the most heartbreaking season of their life? Other people’s criticism. To make matters harder, I had a major falling out with my parents in the same timeframe. I had never depended on my parents for childcare or any practical support so not having those things wasn’t new to me, but my heartbreak was severe.
This past January my divorce became final and slowly I began putting my life back together. I was no longer in transition or uncertainty. Phil and I were moving forward as the co-parents we now were, our boys had come out largely unscathed, I had figured out how to reinvent myself career wise and was working towards a new beginning. I was back to the gym, in a routine, finding a way to thrive when my kids were with their dad instead of staring at a wall with a broken heart all weekend. I was even feeling ready to date.
Then COVID-19 hit.
How Divorce During COVID-19 Affected My Recovery
I am a substitute teacher so I immediately lost my job. I’ve been filing unemployment claims for 10 weeks and haven’t heard back once. I am a part time employee who didn’t work last year so I am one of the thousands whose claim is complicated and has slipped through the cracks.
I have three young children so I immediately became a homeschool parent to three different grade levels. Only, I can’t do as homeschool parents would, and leave the house to enrich their learning at say… a museum or park or aquarium or…?
The gym closed, the restaurants closed, the hiking trails closed, life closed.
As I write this, we just rolled over 10 weeks of COVID-related quarantine. The fatigue set in a week ago and I’m afraid of what it means for me. After surviving all the struggle of the past few years, am I now getting depressed?
I am an extrovert as it is, but I also just finished holing up and licking my wounds as my life was in crisis for the past 3 years, and I managed to come out a newer, better, sassier version of myself. Now this. I am in grad school to become a full-time teacher. What does that even mean now that schools will presumably lose funding as the economy caves in? What does it mean when teachers aren’t even going to be allowed to show children their smiles in the Fall? How do I learn to be a classroom teacher in a season where peer interaction is questionable, and I cannot touch my student’s shoulder?
And in general, what about the children? What about the fact that schools are filled with mandatory reporters for a reason, that for many kids, school is the safe space of their lives, the daily touchpoint that tells them the world has a place for them. That teachers are who lift them up, give them hope, say “I see you.” What about these children?
My heart is breaking in a whole new way over all this and I know I am far from alone.
So, for all of you who were just starting to get somewhere in your life. Getting over a tragedy or loss, recovering from an addiction or illness, the kids who were starting to thrive because you were getting away from your home life for 30 hours a week and getting around adults who made you feel hopeful and intelligent and capable…
Recovering from divorce during COVID-19 is a whole process in itself. I see you; I feel you, and you are not alone.