After 15 years together, my wife and I have just got divorced. She’s French, I’m from London, and we’ve been living on the Riviera for the past 5 years. She has part custody of our 2 kids. I’ve decided to stay in France to be with them. I feel like a failure, forced to accept a separation I never wanted, and ready to fall from a cliff. I just don’t know what to do with myself or my so-called “new life”. Brian
Divorce can be a sea of hurt, pain, and anger. Added to the grief of losing a loved one, it feels like chaos around and within you at a time when you lose all your points of reference; when the unknown and uncertainty replace stability and familiarity. The first issue to address is the management of this crisis, getting and asking for all the help and goodwill you can from those around. This helps you to secure your surrounding on a practical, technical, relational level. To find peace it’s important you re-create a more stable base and get a new focus in your life; this should be finding a place where you feel comfortable, making it your home, concentrating on your job, scheduling the kids’ time with you, planning for holidays, socialising with your friends, doing sports etc.
The second point is to acknowledge how you feel, recognising that there is a huge void in your life, an empty space of “things” that you once had but have no more. The question of why it happened, your share of responsibility and how to avoid repeating the same mistake with the lessons to be “learned” from that “experience” will come in their own time. Success is often built on a sequence of events not quite going the way you thought they would but it’s what you do with them, how you transform and use those “failures”, that allow you achieve your goals. It’s the same for relationships that have ended. They help you to be clearer about what matters to you, a springboard for trying things differently.
Thirdly, in a quiet moment, I would invite you to face your cliff and look around it. What do you see? How do you feel? What does it do to you? Observe these signs – both physical and emotional – closely, and don’t run. Welcoming these feelings, rather than suppressing them, will lead you to the path for finding inner calm, similar to meditation.
You’re deeply hurt. It takes time to find peace again and if you’re alone, you may need to be helped along the way. Don’t be afraid of a therapist: a professionally-trained listener can really help you unload and move on.