The Dichotomy of Darkness in Light

When you get married you are making a commitment.  Marriage is not this endless love nest or dating on steroids (it can feel that way in the beginning though).  It can take years before you really know a person, for me it took my relationship 6 years, before my other half turned to the dark side.  In my analysis, this switch was triggered by our first born, but anything can trigger it if the person you are married to has a trigger.  In my situation, maybe he didn’t know what love is, maybe he couldn’t wrap his head around the flaws, maybe he just did not want to put the effort into the marriage to make it work, maybe he still wanted to be married to the young girl he could control or maybe he let his guard down and darkness entered his heart replacing the love he had for me with love he had for himself instead.  The last four years with him were an unforgettable abuse whirlwind .  He gradually became a different person or he gradually revealed his true person starting at the birth of our daughter (trigger event).  Either way it triggers a discussion that has been floating around in various social media circles, the belief that darkness and light can simultaneously be in the same place at the same time.  Scientifically it is impossible; but metaphorically it is possible.

This is the challenge between the realist and the idealist, the dichotomy of darkness in light existing all at once like the yin and yang from the Chinese belief system of the Tao (even though it does in fact represent duality); however, I think looking deeper the symbol sums it up nicely; there’s not one portion of the symbol that is gray (mixture of light and dark).  Each section is separate, there is no blending of black and white.  Also, if ever there is imbalance like a mixture of light and dark (my interpretation) or too much dark for example, they call this vacuity in Chinese medicine, there’s an actual word that describes the consequences of becoming confused.  This tipping of the balance is also known as a depressed state of being.  My other half seemed to be bit by the Existentialism bug.  Wikipedia sums it up nicely, “people who face the emptiness and accept responsibility aim to live ‘authentic’ lives.” Ah ha!  The answer is clearer now than ever.

There is no such thing as darkness within light or light within darkness; however, if you are the type of person who likes to color outside the lines I think this metaphorical way of thinking helps you rationalize the things you feel guilty about.  This is not about shame, blame or judgment.  It’s about calling a spade a spade.  This faulty way of thinking is damaging relationships everywhere, not only in marriages.  This way of thinking throws off the balance of life.  A person who aims to live by their authentic sinful self throws morality to the wind and embraces immorality as a characteristic of living.  Guilt is not a disposable feeling.  Guilt has a purpose.  When you throw away a purposeful feeling that is only associated with human beings, is not that regression instead of progression?

Don’t Let Divorce Happen to You

There are many words circling in my brain.  Disillusionment, frustration, duped, disbelief, hurt, shocked, sad and empty.  Emotional stages of divorce vary for everyone.  Since separation, acceptance was the immediate response to the tragedy of my divorce considering the abusive history that ensued once the first child was born.  The feeling was mutual when  I received the papers.  Was the first born a trigger?  It felt like the first born ignited something.  The change was gradual at first.  After having a baby, the woman goes through a major transition physically and emotionally, I was no different.  I was not myself, no woman is; however, no amount of stress is any excuse for abuse.  He was not himself either.  Men do not have the babies; however the change can impact men in unknown ways.  It could be the laws of nature, it could be genetics or it could even be the environment that fosters the change; whatever it is, the abusive spouse is not justified in their poor treatment of the other.  When you get married, you are supposed to work through difficulties like speed bumps, so I thought.

If your spouse has unacknowledged abuse in their past, brace yourself you will be facing roadblocks as tall as mountains adorned with caution tape and floodlights, that’s what happened and why I find myself getting divorced.

As a little young thing, I did not pay attention to any of the signs during courtship.  Young people, are accepting of flaws in others, because they lack the experience to discern otherwise. That was me.  I bought his story hook line and sinker.  He fell in love with a girl who hung on his every word and did whatever he wanted to do.  He became her ideal mate, not because those characteristics were apart of who he was, but because he desired to be that person for her.  It sounds like an everyday love story.  Both people should make each other better.  That sounds good.  It sounds RIGHT.  It is like some famous quotes, “You complete me” from Jerry McGuire or “It’s always better when we’re together” from singer songwriter, Jack Johnson.  This understanding of companionship is downright false and misleading.  It is imperative that each person in the relationship is who they say they are.  Do not change to be “better.”  Do not put on airs.  Do not try to be anything for your partner other than yourself.

If you use any other strategy for love your relationship will end and if you make the mistake of getting married it will end in divorce.  Do not let divorce happen to you.

After, the makeup second child, he decided to finally end it when the makeup child was incubating in my womb.  I was so angry after I found out I was pregnant and that he reverted into the same pattern/person that he was before we made up, so much so, that the second child conception was the last time we were together.  It was dreadful.  He was bent on acting like everything was okay publicly; however, at home the emotional abuse ran rampant and there was no end to conflict.  After the baby was born, he filed for divorce.

That little bundle immediately became my silver lining.  I was incredibly thankful that I had this little parting gift, but the pain inside was just as riveting because I knew the baby and my oldest would not experience the nurturing environment I had while growing up.

The relationship spun out of control.  It became so wound up after the first child, the reset button remained blinking, begging to be pushed.  Words and actions gradually ate away at the marriage stronghold.  The person that committed his life to me, all the sudden forgot who he was and what we were about.  All that mattered was his way and objections would be met with avoidance and/or rejection/conditional love.  My vision was clouded.  The constant changing person before me left me off-balance unable to regain my footing.  My emotions got the best of me.  Divorce was not even in the picture before children; however, children changed the family dynamics and conflict can ruin a marriage.

Do not pretend to be someone else.  Do not let conflict ruin your marriage.  Do not be anyone, but yourself. Talk about everything.  Practice forgiveness daily.  Poor into your marriage like it is the very thing that gives you life.  Compromise.

Divorce Agony – The Wild Horse

If your divorce has lasted longer than a year, you will eventually stumble upon divorce agony.  There are so many emotions that are wrapped up in divorce.  I have described them as an emotional jungle and the 5 stages of grief, but once your divorce hits the long-term divorce mark such as over a year you will eventually reach divorce agony.  When you have been in a period of prolonged pain that twists your insides into new shapes, this feeling is agony.  The pain is intensified if the estranged spouse is an abuser (neglectful, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.).

Divorce agony is like a wild horse confined to a cage and looking out to see a beautiful green pasture beyond its reach; the longing to be free is a desire that goes unsatisfied.  Confinement creates a sense of claustrophobia.  Things are cramped.  Space is closing in.  Turning around and around, but there is nowhere to go, but to stand in the same place looking out from the same viewpoint.  Sweet scents come in on the breeze which provide some minor relief; however, no real resolution to the situation.  There are moments when freedom seems obtainable; maybe someone from the outside looking in gives a glimmer of hope, however the moments are short lived and quenched quickly with reality.

Divorce with children is that reality in a contested divorce.  Divorce with children are those steel bars that do not seem to go away.  Children themselves do not create the steel bars that pin in the wild horse that longs to be free, the courts do.  The divorce industry calls these steel bars coparenting.  These steel bars are the constant reminder of the divorce state of your life.  The issues that caused the divorce in the first place are still active and relived through coparenting and regular interaction with the person that caged you in the first place which creates agony.  Coparenting itself is not the problem; however, the system does not customize coparenting according to relationship challenges.  Happy coparenting cannot and will not exist in a contested divorce, do not be fooled.  Also, it is common for a divorce to morph from an amicable divorce to a contested divorce very quickly when emotions run hot, be very careful there is no way to predict the outcome or plan for this switch.

Everyone will respond to divorce agony in their own way.  If you are susceptible to substance abuse, stay clear of any situation that will expose you or tempt you.  Do not let divorce agony impact your relationship with your child or children.  If you can afford counseling consider it and schedule it.  If you cannot afford counseling find an outlet, so that you are not facing this dreadful emotion alone.  By joining a divorce group, talking with friends, starting a new hobby, writing or journaling you can better cope with divorce agony and tame the wild horse.

A Contested Divorce Revealed

Picture this, a couple made in heaven.  Two people that look as though they are made for each other.  Their mutual friends call them the dynamic duo.  They gaze into each other’s eyes and those moments are enough.  They do absolutely EVERYTHING together.  The friends they had before they met can’t seem to compete with the newfound love.  All the sudden they find themselves in a love-ship and friendship that only dreams are made of.  One person spills their guts about past mistakes and the other accepts them for who they are, no questions asked.  Future goals align with precision and the possibility of boredom is incomprehensible.

As the relationship continues to blossom separate lives collide at a rapid pace; however, only a few mutual friendships stick in the process.  One person has solid relationships and the other person more than willing to partake in those relationships and call them their own.  No harm no foul, that happens when two become one.  One person 100% themselves, whereas the other person molds themselves to fit the other person’s ideal mate.  Not exactly honest, but incredibly self-sacrificing at least for the short-term to win the prize.

One person goes along with whatever the other person has on their agenda.   People pleasing?  Maybe.  Madly in love – definitely.  This person is made to be the passenger in more ways than one.  At first glance, it’s chivalrous.  On second glance, it’s controlling. This person didn’t realize how important it is to recognize the absence of conflict as a red flag after years of experience.  Even couples counseling didn’t spotlight the glaring red herring lurking amid pure love.

Love that can only be manifested by starting a family of course.  A family in which both people know for certain could make their image complete, because somehow the pure love that was supposed to last forever didn’t seem to be enough after a while.  Something must be missing.  It must be children.

The couple made in heaven, got a nice heaping dose of reality.  Conflict surfaced immediately after children.  The bliss came crashing down as if an earthquake hit their inner core.  No longer was the controlling person able to control.  No longer was the compliant person able to sustain compliance.  Equilibrium was off in a big way.  The pressure test is the ultimate test of true love.  Is the love strong enough to conquer all as fairy tales so triumphantly preach?  No.  Because for true love to conquer all, agape love must exist and persist.  If the pressure is too great for either party, the foundation cracks.  Those cracks leave the relationship vulnerable to outside influences that have the power to transform each person in the relationship into someone else entirely.  That’s what happened.  That’s what’s behind a contested divorce.

5 Stages of Grief in Divorce – here’s the clincher, they’re still living

There is no way to grasp the concept of divorce until your entire person is submerged and it does in fact feel like DEATH within an emotional jungle; however, every hiccup in the process feels like they are continually dying.  This constant dying situation creates a sense of alternate reality.  There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for anyone involved which leads to difficulty moving from one stage of grief to another with bouts of despair in between (length of time in one stage varies by individual); and for others, there was so much turmoil in the relationship under one roof, the separation leads to immediate acceptance due to the stark contrast in daily living.  However, the acceptance people are not out of the woods; they end up experiencing every stage of the grief sequence as time goes on in a different order. Let’s jump in and talk about the 5 Stages of Grief from losing a loved one from divorce.

First Stage – Denial

It doesn’t seem real at first.  In some cases, it will never seem real; you feel like you are in a perpetual revolving door.  Some questions that you’ll ask yourself include: is this happening? Tomorrow I am going to wake up and things will be different, right?  He or she doesn’t really mean it.  How can this be happening to me?  It almost feels like an out of body experience or a bad dream.

 Second Stage – Anger

No matter what side you are on.  Whether you are filing for a divorce (petitioner) or responding to a divorce (respondent).  This is true for both sides.  Inside you feel like you are going to boil over or explode from the other person’s actions and words.  No matter what don’t be THAT person.  Take steps to prevent that from happening.  Find an outlet for your anger.  Sometimes it helps to scream at the top of your lungs when no one is around or put ten times the effort into your workout that day, when your lifting weights or when your jabbing and upper-cutting put all your energy into the action.  Anger stems from being out of control, could also originate from betrayal and/or the natural response to the instigating spouse.  The Family law system also triggers anger, because it is so incredibly broken and no one seems to care.

Third Stage – Depression

No one is immune to this stage.  There are so many reasons why this stage is unavoidable.  Your life as you know it gets turned upside down.  If you have children, they are extra irritable from the divorce and it is difficult to identify whether their behavior is from abuse or the instant transition which makes you even more depressed.  Your eyes glaze over.  You can’t sleep.  You sleep too much.  You can’t eat, because you have no appetite or you overeat to increase the feel-good hormones like serotonin. Your limbs at times feel like they each weigh a ton.  You don’t want to experience anything good, but instead want to wallow in your misery.  The sudden departure of your loved one leaves a void of presence, even if that presence was rarely good most of the time.  Holidays and birthdays are especially challenging at first, because your family and friends also must make the adjustment.  No one really wants to talk about the divorce, but it is looming in the background of everything you do which also contributes to the grey cloud that seems to hang over your head.

Fourth Stage – Bargaining

Someone in some relationships always wants the other one back (that’s not the case in my experience).  Spouses will make threats, they will beg, they will plead with you to change in the hope of getting back together.  I think of this stage as the optimist stage, because whoever goes through this stage wants things the way they used to be and will say or do anything to get the other spouse to comply or bend to accommodate their need to be together again.  They want to sacrifice something for the good of the relationship and are willing to put everything on the line at this point to make it happen.  If you’ve responded to a bargaining spouse, let me know what that is like in the comments.

Fifth Stage – Acceptance

You finally feel relief in this stage and a hint of sadness.  Some people may even feel a level of happiness and wholeness or resolve at this point.  You no longer feel like your spouse is controlling you and you are confident that you will no longer be manipulated by your spouse, because as time progressed you became stronger and resistant to their old ways.  At this stage, you come to terms with your divorce and know that the divorce happened for a reason.  You no longer want your spouse to be yours.  You no longer feel the need to continue arguments.  You no longer let your estranged spouse impact your state of mind.  At this point you are ready to begin life again, and holy cow, it feels amazing.

The most difficult part of the 5 Stages of Grief (denial, anger, depression, bargaining & acceptance) is reaching continuous acceptance, because the other person is still alive and well.  If you’re able to move or minimize encounters, this helps; however, if you have children it is almost impossible.  If the person changes and becomes civil and respectful there’s lots of promise that acceptance will be maintained.  Sometimes you hear of stories where the parents have this jaw dropping co-parenting arrangement that they even take annual pictures together like the CBS News story or live together; these people aren’t human, do not believe the hype.  In fact, the alternate reality scenario is even more relevant in divorce situations where the parents somehow stay active in each other’s lives and can’t seem to move on with their life.  Don’t be that parent, you’re not helping the children, but giving them false hope.  The emotional jungle is intense as you keep reliving the 5 Stages of Grief; this is normal, keep working through it each day is a new day.