Why am I Unexpectedly so Sad?

You’re almost there. Your divorce is all but finalized. You’ve made peace with the fact that it will happen; maybe you’re even the one who wanted the divorce in the first place. You’ve handled the process with maturity and grace (to the best of your ability). So why are you suddenly overcome by grief?

Perhaps there was a family event you weren’t invited to, or you missed it because you were out of the information loop. Perhaps there was a recent occasion on which your soon-to-be ex-spouse seemed inexplicably cold, mean, or distant. Frequently what happens is you’re assailed by a number of wounding situations at the same time – within days, hours, or minutes of each other. And suddenly you find yourself in tears.

“Whoa,” you think. “What’s going on? Why am I crying? This is silly. I want this divorce. Or at least, I’m fine with the divorce happening.”

Here’s what I think is going on.

You’re not mourning your marriage. You’re mourning the marriage you once hoped for, the person you imagined you were. You’re missing something that never really existed in the first place.

I liked being married. Having an intact family. Being traditional. It’s easy to forget I also felt stressed out and lonely and had headaches all the time. Sure, there was a certain security and predictability in being married. But these days I’m healthier, less stressed, and more confident I can deal with life’s challenges. I know how to negotiate with the gas company to rearrange the scheduling for installation of a new line. (Never mind that my ex-husband would have handled it with ease – for me it was a small triumph.) The truth is, I’m living a more peaceful life.

So why the heck does that sadness still appear? I think for me, the sadness comes from losing that sense of having a traditional family. Losing my sense of identity – or rather, trading the old identity for a new one. I’m no longer married. I’m divorced. It’s part of who I am now.

It takes a while to wrap your mind around that. It takes time.

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to create a new sense of family. A more “Modern Family” kind of family. I expect these sad moments will continue to take me by surprise – but hopefully with less and less frequency as time goes on.

How successful have you been in coming to terms with your divorce? Let me know.

One Comment

  1. Wow. You hit the nail on the head. “You’re mourning the marriage you once hoped for.” And, you miss the convention and security and predictability of marriage. Mainly the security I think. Just facing large changes in life can be sad. It takes a letting go of the past and the courage to step forward onto new, shaky ground. With so many of us coming from “broken homes” (1980’s term for a divorced home but maybe we should call it a modern family), I’m sure others feel like me — all I think I’ve ever really wanted is a family I can love and who will love me back. I just always wanted the original nucleus of the family to stay together in the same household.

Leave a Reply