The Decree Absolute formally dissolves your marriage and the day you receive yours can trigger strong emotions. Feelings of joy, relief and release may be prevalent but possibly these are accompanied by sadness, fear and insecurity too.
People divorce for a myriad of different reasons and their path to divorce can be smooth and amicable, difficult and adversarial or anything in between. As a result, the way they feel on the day of the Absolute is equally as varied, if not more so.
I’m not sure that you can prepare for how you will feel or if you can avoid it but I hope by sharing my experience below that you will at least know that whatever emotional impact your Absolute has on you, it is normal and it will pass.
A Facetime call from my solicitor announced the news. This was not unexpected; everything had been resolved and the Absolute applied for three months earlier. Every day, I had been expecting the document and that expectation, along with concern about how I would feel when the piece of paper was stamped, no doubt heightened my emotions.
Following three years of an acrimonious and very difficult divorce process and three years before that of deceit, infidelity and betrayal, the arrival of the Absolute still floored me.
Initially, I was overwhelmed with sadness that my marriage had ended. This is not what I had ever wanted; I felt that I’d never had any choice; not only over whether my husband and I would separate and eventually divorce but also over how my and my children’s lives would be so adversely impacted. At times, I have felt truly helpless and hopeless. The day of the Absolute seemed to crystallise that position; no longer married to the father of my children, no longer having a husband, I was alone. Feelings of fear, insecurity and above all sadness overwhelmed me. Dreams of the future had been shattered and memories of the past tarnished.
On reflection though and forcing myself to re-frame things, my emotions shifted dramatically.
Primarily, I am relieved that the process of divorce is over. The journey has been so very draining, emotionally and financially. It has taken me to the very depths of despair at times and it has fundamentally changed me as a person. Now however, I never again have to worry about the divorce process or experience that unique sense of insecurity and worry. So, “relieved” is my overwhelming emotion.
Hope and optimism surfaced next. Yes, I am alone and the future is uncertain but the world is definitely my oyster and whatever the future holds, good or bad, a new adventure awaits and is there if I want it.
Freedom; a cliché maybe but true none the less. I am beholden to nobody. I don’t have to compromise my values or my dreams unless I choose to. I was probably in my early twenties when I last felt that way and that liberation is a thrilling sensation.
Excitement and anticipation. My future was once mapped out; retired with my husband and enjoying a financially healthy old age surrounded by my family. Now, it will be different but it can be whatever I want it to be and whilst I don’t yet know what that looks like, I am going to enjoy finding out.
Gratitude: I really resent that word and the unending calls for gratitude that today’s world bombards us with. That said, I do feel gratitude; I am grateful that I have unwillingly escaped a marriage where I was not loved, respected or appreciated. One where I would have stayed ad-infinitum and maybe only have realised my mistake when it was too late. Instead, I now have the chance to create a better life and a wonderful future. I am grateful for that.
So, the piece of paper (and that’s all it is) has been filed away. Nothing is really any different than it was yesterday. I had a moment of grief but that is all it was and I now look to the future; the exciting, happy and full of opportunity future.
For those of you that have to experience the Day of the Absolute, I hope you too can embrace optimism and hope and actively seize your positive future.
Finally, courtesy of my daughter on one of my darkest days and in the words of Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda:
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift
and that is why it’s called the present.”