They say time heals all wounds. I say some wounds may need more time than others. One of those is the wound of divorce. I’m on the other side of that chapter in my life, and I am thriving. Yet, watching people around me going through a divorce doesn’t make me breathe a sigh of relief. I know the struggle there, and it is not fun. At the same time, I can now see some things that I did not and could not see while going through it. I wanted to share some of those thoughts.
Support Looks Different
While I was going through a divorce, I felt extremely alone. Even in a crowd of people, I felt isolated. Those feelings didn’t go away when I spent time around my support system. My friends and family were always there for me. But on some occasions, their support felt judgmental because they hadn’t experienced what I did. It didn’t seem fair, like someone who tries to give parenting advice when they have no kids.
Now that I’m looking to be there for people around me who are going through what I’ve been through, I see “support” much differently. Yes, I’ve been through a divorce. But, I still cannot say I know exactly how they feel because I haven’t dealt with their specific circumstances. I realize now that just being there is support, and that’s sometimes all people know how to do. I’ve learned to look at the heart in their intentions. I want my friends to know and feel that there’s love in my interactions with them during this difficult time in their lives, as well. I may not always have the right words, but I will always know the right action: be there when you can, how you can, for whatever they need.
Devastation is the Same
I’m now on the other side of going through a divorce. But one thing remains the same: the impact of divorce is still as devastating as a hurricane. And, divorce leaves just as much destruction in its wake. That’s one of the main reasons why I chose not to go through legal proceedings. To me, they are detrimental to more amicable solutions that may help, and they cause much more tension between couples. I’m extremely glad I went a non-lawyer route for my situation. I think everyone involved is better because of that decision.
Beyond legalities, I see the emotional turmoil created by divorce. I guess I didn’t really see the full scope of it while going through it. Like being in the eye of a hurricane, I didn’t really feel all of the impacts going on around me. Nevertheless, it is very visceral watching others deal with it. The emotional requests asked of me seem challenging, even though I asked the same of others when I was going through it. I wanted people to love who I loved and dislike who I disliked. I understand the need for simple, raw empathy, even if at times it appears irrational to those outside of it all.
Suggestions for Everyone
I know many people will be on either or both sides of this coin at some point in their lives. So, how can we be better friends to those who are going through a divorce? There are several key things I have realized, and I’m sure others will, too. First, it is so important to respect the emotional responses of everyone involved. Everyone will have feelings, and those feelings will run the gamut, from anxiety and anger to acceptance.
ALL of those feelings are allowed at whatever point(s) they manifest, regardless of who experiences them. Everyone needs to be gentle with everyone because divorce is stressful for all involved parties. Encourage understanding for and from one another. Ask for more information. Set boundaries if you need to. Get clarity on circumstances. These are reasonable things to ask for in a friendship. They can be tools to help everyone deal with present emotions, feelings, next steps, and further processing to get to a healthy place.
While it is no one’s ideal option, the decision to go through with a divorce may be a necessary one. It can have devastating effects on everyone directly and indirectly involved. I know what that looks and feels like from the outside in, and from the inside out. Developing empathy for everyone impacted is the key to navigating healthy decisions and important relationships when concluding a marriage partnership.