One of the hardest things I faced during my divorce was being stripped of all sense of control. It didn’t hit until about the second year after my separation, or Second Year Hell (SYH) as I like to call it in hindsight. I held onto the illusion of control for as long as I could, so realizing that I actually had none and accepting that I never had it in the first place, was one very hard lesson to internalize. This realization was also one of the most freeing and life changing things I have ever experienced. Why can’t they teach this in grade school and save so many of us anal retentives from having to reinvent the wheel and spiral into the depths of hell when we are finally made aware of this very hard to accept reality?!
I know I’m not the only one who went through SYH, and definitely not the only one to mourn her loss of control. Being a (somewhat recovering) Type A, I have many friends who are similar, and surprise, surprise, some of them have been through a divorce as well.
Jackie was an acquaintance for many years, and we only became closer after we both separated. In our tight community of stay at home moms and nuclear families, we were sort of thrown together, but the reality was we needed each other at the time. Jackie’s separation had been longer than mine, and the circumstances were quite different, but no matter, some things were extremely relatable. The divorce was her choice, the separation terms were acceptable to her, the custody arrangement gave her utmost flexibility, and she was content being separated with no divorce date in sight. Her ex went along with this set up until he got serious with a woman who just wouldn’t acquiesce to this arrangement. When Jackie’s ex started putting his foot down about things and began to bring the girlfriend around the kids, I watched Jackie begin to crack. She was losing control, which caused frustration and anger to bubble to the surface. I provided her as much support as I could during this time, but I have to admit that I saw something I didn’t like. Though I identified strongly with her, I didn’t think her reactions were healthy or productive. This was how I realized that I needed to get things in check in my own situation before they went too far. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she had no real control, and I was only beginning to accept that neither did I. I decided to focus on areas I could change—all internal.
A couple of years later, another friend was divorcing. Another long process with many stages and difficulties. I’ll tell you, divorce may be hard for everyone, but we Type A’s seem to have an especially tough time getting to the acceptance stage! Though this friend had been separated for a long time, she and her husband continued to waffle on the final decision. Well, I guess that decision was made when she found out that not only was he dating a woman 30 years younger, but that he was traveling with her around the world, introducing her to their friends and that he wanted to introduce her to their children. This was not how the divorce was supposed to go. Her friends, her children, and he is making these decisions concerning them? Her anger was palpable and understandable! Given the ups and downs of the separation, she was thrown when this was introduced to the mix. She seriously questioned her decision and even thought she wanted him back for a minute. At this point in my life I was able to fully see what was happening and though maybe I wasn’t able to take away the shock and pain of this seeming loss of control, I was able to empathize deeply.
Now, in both cases, some people may read this and think: JEALOUS bitch, she had her chance, too bad. Maybe they are right to some extent, but I think that jealousy and control are so interlinked, that it may be hard to discern the two. These women were done with their marriages for various reasons. Perhaps they were salvageable, perhaps not, but neither of my friends had felt jealous (and during each of the marriages, there may have been reason to) until they were stripped of control. Similarly in my situation, I hadn’t felt jealousy with my ex at any point I’d known him, before, during, or after our marriage, until he met a woman who held more power over him than I did. I didn’t want him back but I may have wanted the power to get him back if I desired and I definitely wanted the control that came along with that. When I finally realized that I never had any sort of control to begin with, that jealousy got sucked out of the room almost faster than it had arrived.