Should I have done things differently? Probably.
Should I have taken more time and not dived right in? Most definitely.
Would I change it? No chance.
I have emerged from the darkness finally of a very toxic, tumultuous, and abusive marriage. It consumed me, the darkness. It took away my joy, my faith in love, my love of myself. The torrential abuse stripped me of all of my self confidence and belief in myself. I floundered for years on a stormy sea, holding on with all I had to a single rope, praying and begging the Gods for it to end!
It did…..end that is. The marriage, the farce, the robbery of almost 10 years of my life. In a concrete city, which seemed like a concrete prison, I was finally able to dash free. And man did I run! I saw a light, and I went for it hell for leather! I was never going back, not to him, not that place, and most definitely not to those feelings of self loathing and despair.
I don’t quite know how it started; the badness. I suppose it crept up on me as ill fortune tends to do. A sneaky little bastard that bides its time to grip you by one ankle first, and then the other, pulling you down with the intent to never let go. I was drowning and consumed. I was choking and screaming. I did not even recognize me. This person, who demolished me, he had a foot on my head it seemed, and was laughing at me. I know in hindsight that this was not the case, and that I played my role in hurting him tremendously too, but at the time, I felt he was the ultimate bully. He was my tormentor. I was an anxious wreck around him, and also when he was not there. I would wait in the evenings for him to come home with a knot in my stomach and a ringing in my ears.
Eventually the pain and bullying became so bad, I found that courage, that I always had (but it was hidden in a place I had forgotten that I had placed it), and I took my babies, and I ran. I boarded a flight to Thailand, before I even filed for divorce, to clear my head. And clear it I did. I returned knowing what had to be done. After less than 3 years of marriage I sought a divorce….
It took me 3 years to leave him, and another year for the divorce to be finalized. You would think I was free then wouldn’t you? Well, I was not. It doesn’t end there you see. When you leave someone and divorce, receiving the decree absolute is only the start of the shit show. Oh we battled and bickered, and we did for another 4 years after that. Often it was worse than when we were married. Often I wanted to end it all, but did not know how, nor would I ever leave my children. I was in despair.
Hong Kong holds the darkest 8 years of my entire life. It was only moving to Phuket, and getting away from that place that had captured the most painful moments of my existence, that I became free. I started to see “ME” again in the mirror. My smile started to appear more often. I found myself shouting at the children less, and laughing with them more. I was free. I found my path as an activist. I started writing and performing as a singer again. I was coming out of the cloud that had engulfed me, and I was recognizable as the old Vicki again.
Don’t get me wrong, it has been hard here in Phuket too, dealing with the aftermath of divorce; but it is so much easier for some reason than it was when I was there. I think I was drinking too much in that city, desperately trying to numb the pain, get him out of my head, get as fucked up as I could so I would forget. I dated so many men, to help me forget his touch. It worked. But still I felt the sting and the hurt at times. I knew I was on a slippery slope to nowhere good. I made the best decision of my life.
My advice to surviving divorce or to leaving someone who is no good for you is the following:
- LET THE PAIN BE THERE: Allow yourself to feel the pain, don’t numb it with alcohol and drugs, that solves nothing. Talk to someone. I did, I did seek therapy, but I should have gone more often. I should have reached out more. Pain is our bodies way to let us know we are broken and need to heal. I wish I had listened to that voice inside of me at the time.
- TAKE YOUR TIME: There is no rush to sign papers and agree to amounts of money. Don’t feel pressured. These choices you decide to agree upon will be there for life, so think long and hard. Make sure you feel comfortable with them, and that they seem fair and right to you. Lawyers can make you feel like you should be asking for more than maybe he/she has to give, or you might settle for less, just to get away from the marriage faster…..just take your time with this.
- REMEMBER THE CHILDREN: If you are a parent then remember that they hear everything. You don’t want to make them feel insecure during this transitional period. Try to shield them from as much as you can. I made the mistake a number of times of breaking down in front of my little ones, and if I could turn back time I would not do that again. Try to talk nicely, hard as that may be, about your soon to be ex spouse, to your children. You are both their parents, and they love both of their parents equally.
- BREATHE: I always say this, but I always mean it. Take time to breathe. Go to yoga, meditate, go for walks, and look after yourself. It is so easy to get all worked up and make yourself ill. Lord knows I made myself so sick during my break up, both mentally and physically. I should have taken better care of myself. Luckily I am all good and healthy now, and live a very active and healthy lifestyle….but it was not like that in the dark times I tell you!
- LEAN ON FAMILY AND FRIENDS: Please talk to your loved ones. I know you may feel at times all you talk about is the divorce, and the bad things your ex partner does, and how upset you are, and how hard done by you feel; but these people are there to get you through this, and as time passes you will find yourself talking about that person less and less….fingers crossed.
- DATE: By all means go on dates. I encourage it! Yet at the same token, be careful and try not to rush into another relationship. You are damaged goods right now, whether you care to admit that or not. You need to heal and find yourself again, and that is not going to happen whilst hanging on to a new “beau”….just sayin’! I have been there!
- DRESS UP AND DOLL UP: Go and get yourself a make over, buy some new clothes, get a mani pedi every 2 weeks, a massage, a day in a spa every now and then. Do things that are just for YOU. Make yourself feel pretty/handsome, and go out with friends, and be social. Try not to think about or talk about the divorce on these occasions. Make a pact with yourself that these are the days you try to find the old you again. I started doing that towards the end of my time in Hong Kong, and it made all the difference, and gave me the boost to move to Phuket and make this amazing new fresh start.
- PREPARE FOR FUTURE BUMPS: No matter how amicable the divorce may have ended, there will always be disagreements and bumps in the road. My ex followed me and the children to Phuket for instance. Great for the children of course, but not so great for me (as you can imagine). Just when I thought I was free, he was here and dating a mom at my kids school, and my life seemed all upside down again. This soon passed and I learned to try to co exist again with this man…and we are getting there…..but I tell you it is trying, and he and I will never be best mates, but I hope that we can be civil one day for the sake of our kids. My point here is that it will always be a little rocky, you broke up with this person for a reason, and that person is very unlikely to change their ways just because you got divorced. If anything they will become MORE set in their ways.
- HAVE FUN AND BE HEALTHY: Find a balance between going out and having fun with friends (which you ABSOLUTELY need to do!) and also being fit and healthy. Getting fit and doing yoga was a saving grace for me. I can’t recommend it enough. Balance is key now. Try not to be too extreme, as this will just make the journey all the harder.
- BE WITH YOUR KIDS (if you have children): They will need you now more than ever. They need consistency and love, discipline and fairness. It is easy to want to spoil them to make them feel better over the split, but this actually does them no favors what so ever. They will heal you. For me it is all down to my children that I have found the happiness that I now have. I think this is the happiest and most content I have been my whole life….
Love and hugs, and you can do this x