If the average age for people going through a divorce is 30 years old, why is it that handling a divorce in your 30s feels like such an incredibly lonely process?
Aged 30 I went through a divorce, and it was tough. Aside from watching the money drain from my account as lawyers negotiated. Pulling my hair out at trying to maintain amicable relations and figuring out the complicated legal process of actually getting divorced. There was the not to ever be underestimated emotional impact.
Divorce turned my world upside down and tested every fibre of my being. It was a painful myriad of emotions. And despite the stats saying otherwise, no-one I knew was going through a divorce or could truly relate at that time. I was in my 30s, and my marriage was ending at a time when other people my age were in the getting married phase. So getting divorced in my 30s felt pretty lonely.
If you’re going through something similar, I’m sorry things didn’t work out. And hopefully, this little blog will help. Here are my personal insights on what to expect when going through divorce in your 30s. And why the end of life as I knew it, wasn’t so bad after all.
“Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary bypass.”— Mary Kay Blakely
1. You Are Not A Failure
Seriously, anyone going through a divorce, here’s your reminder – You are not a failure by any means.
At the time I felt like a failure for many reasons. For one, everyone else around me seemed to be just finding their feet. They were either getting married, having babies or landing that great career, when I’d just taken a tumble. It was hard to even talk about it, just to admit I was getting divorced. And despite a decade long marriage, I always felt as if people were thinking that I should have given it more time, and tried harder to make it work. I’d failed in their eyes at making enough effort.
That feeling of failure was pretty difficult to swallow. Because I already personally felt like I had failed; I’d made the wrong choice, had committed to lifelong vows that ended up only being for a time, I had promised love always and let the side down, I had failed at marriage. And then arguably, failed at what society expected of me; to get married, and stay married.
It doesn’t matter what age we get divorced, or how long ago we walked down that aisle. Divorce isn’t something that’s planned. It is tough, highly emotional, pretty scary at times, and not something that requires a shed load of internal mental abuse on top of it all. “Just because I am getting divorced, DOES NOT make me a failure.” I had to repeat this to myself many times.
2. The Emotional Rollercoaster
Hold on tight because this baby has loop the loops and a big dipper that’ll send you on a journey from screaming for joy, crying for it to just stop, to clinging on for dear life.
Prepare for guilt, shame, fear, vulnerability, insecurity, anger, loneliness and grieving. The emotions that come with divorce are overwhelming and all-encompassing at times. Whether you instigated the divorce or your partner made the choice, divorce takes you on an emotional rollercoaster.
The emotional element of going through a divorce should never be under-estimated for either party, whether instigator or instigate. I say this, because in my situation I made the decision, which lead to a common misconception that I was okay. I had chosen to get divorced in my 30s therefore, I had no reason or right to feel any form of emotional turmoil. But this was certainly not the case. Just because I made the decision, doesn’t mean I was in any less pain at the end of something that had been a huge part of my life.
The important thing I found, was not denying myself those emotions. I had a right to feel the way I did. Divorce brought about huge uncertainly and massive change to my life, so it was only natural to experience all sorts of feelings.
The end of a marriage is no small thing. To me it was a death, of sorts. I grieved for my marriage and also for the loss of the future I thought would be. It took time coming to terms with not only my marriage ending, but everything that it signified. Including the comfort of thinking my future had a particular journey it would follow.
For myself and other people I know, we tend to have a life plan pencilled in behind closed doors. Divorce for us means also having to accept that those previous hopes, dreams, and the future that will now never be, are no more. I mourned not only for my marriage ending, but for the future that came with it. And whilst it is extremely difficult to battle those emotions in the grieving process; denial, anger, bargaining, depression. The grief does pass. And with time, acceptance leads to moving on and creating a new life.
4. Fear Of The Unknown
Interestingly marriage made me feel comfortable. I had conformed in a way and was where society felt I should be,; On the matrimonial highway to success. Next step kids and possibly small cute dog. Life goals = Smashing it mate! Except that when a marriage goes wrong that comfort zone is completely removed.
Divorce changed my life and me, completely. It affected where I lived. My finances. Friends. It even affected my career. There was a very real fear of the unknown present and future lying ahead. The comfort blanket had been removed. Life was going to be completely different now and starting again felt like a scary prospect.
But the good news is that there was light at the end of that long dark tunnel. You can and do adapt. It doesn’t instantly remove that fear of the unknown, but you learn to embrace it and take life as it comes.
“I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me.”— Erica Jong, Novelist
5. No-One Is Perfect & That Is OK To Admit
Not only did I have to accept the removal of that comfort blanket for myself, navigate my emotions and feelings, grieve a major loss in my life, and accept life was going to be very different going forward. I had to admit to everyone I knew that my marriage had ended. It didn’t help that social media, as we know, is a stream of constant perfection day in, day out. Which made it even harder to admit that my life was being torn apart, when everyone else’s lives seemed to be fully together.
I felt vulnerable in admitting that I was going through a divorce in my 30s. So instead, for a time I pretended I was fine and that I had a handle on it. I made a few jokes about it all. Laughed it off. “Oh well, there’s always next time,” I said. But inside I battled petrifying fear. How was I going to navigate my life going forward? How could I come back from this failure?
Here’s the thing, no-one is perfect. And I mean no-one. Marriages do end. Marriage or divorce do not define us. And it is OK to admit that we are not OK, wven when sometimes others are having the best times of their lives, whilst we are going through one of our lowest. Divorce isn’t easy. And the best thing I did during that time was begin to talk about the experience, and share what I was going through.
6. Find A Support Network
I say this with love, find your people. Whether it’s your own network of friends and family or you need to reach further afield and connect on platforms such as this, remember that there are other people out there going through the same experience as you. You are not alone. And it is important to find the support you need to get you through this time.
7. Life After Divorce
Divorce can be emotionally all consuming and it takes time to heal. The process is different for each of us. No divorce is going to be the same experience. However if there is one piece of advice I can offer, it is this. The divorce rollercoaster will stop. You might have jelly legs and vow to never got on another again. Or vaguely recall enjoying some parts, then remember that there were bits you screamed for it to end. Overall, you will probably be annoyed the experience cost as much as it did. But each day, is a step forward.
Change to the extent divorce brings can be scary. But post-divorce is an awakening. I’ve learned, that taking steps firmly out of that comfort zone can also be so very good. Because divorce in your 30s can give you clarity on how to live your life going forward.
It left me with this sense of strength. I had overcome something major. And in doing so, it gave me time to reassess my life and really look at what I needed to do to make myself happy. Whilst that journey began with a fear of the unknown, I learned to love that I had no plans to stick to. No expectations of my future. No pre-conceived notions of what I should be aspiring to be as I was beginning all over again. And no boundaries.
When I speak to other people about their experience of divorce, whilst we agree on the above and the painful journey of going through it, we also resonate with the post-divorce experience being the start of a journey of self-discovery and self-love and truly enjoying every moment in the present.
8. Post-Divorce The Priority Becomes You
I have learned more about myself in the past six years than I ever took the time to know in the previous 30. Because on the other side of divorce in your 30s, the priority always becomes you. Learning to make yourself happy, without being reliant on a relationship to fulfil that, is empowering. So take time to enjoy your independence and experiencing things on your own. Enjoying life as a 30s post-divorcee is all about navigating life on your own terms.
And if you are still working your way through points 1 – 6, I can assure you that 7 onwards will be a whole new and exciting chapter of your life.
“The good thing about getting divorced young — if there is a good thing — is that it makes you realize there’s no schedule in life. It blasts you wide open and frees you to be honest with yourself.”— Olivia Wilde, Actress