Truth is, divorce is a clustercuss of noxious, terrible feelings-anger, guilt, shame, grief, hatred, desperation, indignation, sadness—all wrapped up into one. But what’s worse is that we tend to dwell in one category of noxious (the anger and hate) and ignore the second (shame and grief), creating a potent emotional storm front that’s likely to pull us out of our common senses and turn us into a raving lunatic. Well, at least it sure feels like that some days.
In an effort to be helpful to those of you in the hardest part of the tornado, here’s a cheat sheet of borderline lunatic thoughts you’ll probably have-and then have to put away before you do yourself more harm than good.
- Well, now I have proof: I am defective and unlovable (You aren’t allowed to think this, for all the obvious reasons. But we’ll state the obvious: Because it’s simply not true. We repeat, not true.)
- I’ll never marry again. I don’t need the heartache.
- If I do get married again, I want a written guarantee next time. (Problem is, that marriage contract is, in theory, your “guarantee.” And, as you’re now painfully aware, that guarantee isn’t binding. Marriage, love, even the second date—it’s all just a big leap of faith. Every time.)
- I want _______ to die.
- I want to die.
- I don’t want _______ to die. I just want _______ to fall in love and get married and then get unceremoniously dumped the way I’ve just been dumped.
- You know what? I always knew deep down that this wouldn’t last. (Don’t rewrite history. You two were in love—just because it’s over now, doesn’t mean it never happened.)
- I don’t want _______ to die—I just want ______ to be so horribly disfigured in a freak accident that no one can ever love him/her again. (This is the most satisfying of the revenge fantasies, but now that you’ve had it and chuckled to yourself, it’s time to move on.
- I swear, if there were a way to erase all memories of ______ like in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I would do it in a heartbeat. (See #7 above. Plus, if you give back all those years, you just end up being a 24-year-old, or whatever, in a middle-aged body. How awful of a thought is that? Hopefully awful enough you’ll realize you need to hold on to all your life experiences and wisdom, even when they hurt.)
- My life would have been better if we’d never met. (Don’t give away the good with the bad; you have to keep it all.)
- Now I’ll never have children.
- Now I’ll never have more children.
- I can’t believe I had children with this pathetic individual.
- Frankly, I’d been thinking of ending things myself for a while now. I just didn’t have the energy to say so.
- I do want him/her to die. And then I can be the grieving widow/er and not the rejected spouse. (This is a classic example of bad emotional math: imagining a scenario where you can’t be “blamed” or besmirched has its obvious appeal, but trust us, being divorced and/or left doesn’t necessarily indicate anything about the person you are—so you know what? Don’t let it.