I Am Not Alone, But Yes, I Am Totally Alone

I was amazed by how much crying was involved in the hell of divorce. I did a search on the entire 92,000 words of my book, and I have to say, it’s shocking to me that “crying” and “cry” showed up only 107 times. I probably used the words “cried” and “sobbed” and “wept” sometimes, too. And there was definitely at least one “wailed.”

I spent the bulk of my post-breakup crying hours not in my bed (it was too close to Zack’s room, and I feared waking him up), but lying on my kitchen floor. It seemed punitive in just the right way, to cry sprawled out on a hard surface, with bright, unforgiving lighting and shiny appliances all around. Sometimes you just want to give over to how bad it feels. But I had a major epiphany on that kitchen floor, one that at first scared the heck out of me, but then eventually helped me start moving on, and the realization was this: No matter how many friends I had, no matter how much my family loved me, no one was going to be able to reach me here at the bottom of my grief-I was truly on my own.

At first this realization seemed tremendously unfair. Friends and family were working so hard to help me through my heartbreak and confusion, and I wanted their love to be able to save me. But the unfortunate truth is that all the support and sympathy in the world doesn’t help you in the painstaking work of digging out from this kind of loss, it can’t set you on the path to reclaiming your sense of self and your life. You have to do all that spadework on your own. It has to come from within.

So since spadework was involved, I imagined myself holding a shovel, standing in a big, empty field, trying to figure out where I should start in regaining my sense of self. Then I imagined all my friends and family standing in a ring around me, cheering me on as I started to plant the seeds for my new life. That mental image was a more comforting way to accept the truth that how I came out of this was pretty much completely up to me.

Agree? Disagree? Does this resonate with your experience, or no way, José? Share your reactions and story in the comment box below, and let’s start a conversation.

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