Does the pain of divorce ever ease up?

I was recently asked the following: Does the time ever come when you can see your ex’s name or photograph and just not have a deep visceral negative reaction? When you see you received an email from the ex and your heart doesn’t sink to your feet? That when the kids talk nicely about the other parent you don’t feel angry and jealous? That when you bump into him / her in shul or at the store that you aren’t overcome by a haze of rage?

My answer was a resounding “Yes”. That time does come, but it doesn’t come on its own. You have to work towards it. It’s called letting go of the past, and embracing the future. Moving on. Forgiving. You will never forget, but you need to forgive in order to move ahead.

My ex and I have been divorced for a few years. It took a while to move past all the hurt and anger and resentment. I had to want to move past it. I had to want to not be a bitter vindictive ex wife looking to make her ex husband’s life a living hell. There are women and men who do not want to move on. Their raisons d’être are all about making the ex suffer for what happened. I just wanted a peaceful life, a life where I could raise my kids in a positive environment. You cannot undo the past, but you can improve your future.

Even since we split we were never rude or nasty to each other. We were always hyper aware of how we spoke or communicated with each other. Behind the other’s back I am sure neither of us was so saintly. I think it was on the second Yom Kippur since our split, I came to a point where I just wanted the pain to be over. I needed to let it all go so I could move on with my life and be a person that I could be proud of. I spoke to him after Yom Kippur and we made our peace with each other. We both promised to continue to put the kids first, and just move on with our lives without blame. The past would stay in the past. Thankfully we are both on the same page, I know that isn’t always the case.

I won’t say it’s easy. You don’t forget the hurts. There are times that you do get angry and mad. But when you have truly moved on, their name in your inbox or on your phone shouldn’t send you into paroxysms of anxiety or rage. Letting that happen means you haven’t taken back your own power, that you haven’t allowed yourself to even begin to heal. When that visceral reaction happens over and over, you are giving your power to your ex. If you are no longer together, you need to let that go.

Caveat / Disclaimer: Of course, moving on is so much easier when both parties wish to do so. When the ex is hell bent on making life miserable – it brings other things into the equation. When you have moved on, and the ex sends multiple texts, faxes, emails, voicemails etc just to tell you how disgusting you are, then I think there is justification for your blood pressure to rise upon seeing their name on caller ID. I don’t know what I would do in such a situation…..

What helped you to move on? What advice can you give people starting out on this long road toward co-parenting / co-existing with one’s ex spouse?

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  1. sheldan says:

    Of course, this is under normal circumstances. What about agunot, whose husbands vindictively refuse to give a get even though the couple is civilly divorced? To me, that sounds as if one party is holding on out of spite and refuses to let go–the ultimate “holding on to the past.” And the other party cannot go on.

    I happened to think about this while reading your post. I am guessing that the relationships with most ex-spouses aren’t even close to that.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      you are right, it is the ultimate holding on to the past. Most divorces are not like that. But there are exceptions.

  2. frumgoth says:

    My ex and I have a very unusual situation – we live one floor away from each other in the same apt. building. So I do bump into him in the elevator, lobby, etc. We usually get along quite well and even celebrate big events, like the kid’s birthdays and graduations, together. It makes them so happy to know that there is peace, and that we are both looking out for their well being. There have definitely been times of disagreement, and that’s when the whole system falls apart, and we stop all direct communication for a while, until it gets resolved via emails or text messages, or just blows over. Good luck to everyone going through it, and know that things can, and will, get better.

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