The Hamilton Spectator
Take time after divorce to rediscover yourself
Q I’m 33 and had no idea that being divorced would be so hard on me.
After the marriage was over, I thought I’d feel free and happy to have ended a relationship that had become controlling and loveless.
Instead, I was mostly lonely, living alone, when most people my age were in couples.
So when a man I met through a mutual friend asked if he could call me and arrange a date, I said, “Sure.”
We hit it off at dinner on that first date. He was so attentive and interested in me that I felt relaxed and flattered. We met for more dinners out, and inevitably, sleepovers.
After about four months, he said we should live together at his home where he’d previously lived with his ex-wife, but I was uncomfortable there. So, he rented a house for us and pressured me to agree. I rented out my own place and moved in with him.
A short time later, I woke up and told myself the truth: I didn’t love him. I had just needed a safe place to land.
I’m on my own and lonely again, seeking advice.
How can I regain my younger self-image as an independent working woman with easy friendships and lots of interests, without being needy of a partner if the right one isn’t around?
A Divorce is a tough experience for most people, even when it’s sorely needed. You left a “controlling and loveless” marriage. But then you lost yourself.
You hadn’t done the work of learning how divorce could affect you. It’s a time when you need your most caring, non-judgmental friends, and when new people — e.g. would-be dates — need to be seen as friends only until there’s a strong, mutual attraction toward a relationship.
There’s no need to be lonely or to hibernate from Couples’ Land. Get out where there are people you like and/or share specific interests and activities. Also, consider your home base as an embracing refuge — the “safe place to land” — where you organize some thoughts, read a special book, or listen to great music.
Q My brother lost his wife to cancer a few years ago. For many years, she’d frequently said she’s dying of “terminal” cancer. Her two children heard this for years. I think that story damaged them.
When she passed away, it left my brother to care for the kids. But I’ve since been told he’s forcing his daughter, in her early 20s, to spend her money on her brother who’s a few years younger. She’s trying to get through university, and works parttime.
I’m concerned that my brother’s actions are pushing his daughter away, and that this will forever harm the family.
I’ve also been told that the son will throw things at his sister and his dad, to get stuff he wants or express his anger.
I want to talk to my brother, but I’m not sure what I can say to him.
Difficult Family Matter
A Tell your brother that you understand that his years with a wife who kept talking about dying of cancer were hard on him.
Tell him this was also very hard on both kids, who were helpless regarding her cancer.
Now, he must treat them equally. The older sister needs her own earnings to pay for university. The younger brother needs mental health guidance for anger control, and deep-rooted fears from his mother’s death warnings. If he doesn’t help them equally, he’ll have failed them.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Consider a needed divorce as a passage for reaffirming your values, staying close to trusted friends, and pursuing new interests.