Home > Health > Home > Life > Mind > “How I Got Through it”. A Real Mum’s Advice For Women Navigating Divorce.

“At the time of finding out my husband was having an affair, I had a 10-month-old, a 2.5-year-old and a 4.5-year-old. I felt like my whole world fell apart in an instant.”

When I found out about the affair

“I was in physical pain, had panic attacks, and dropped 3 dress sizes in less than 6 months. I didn’t sleep properly for a year and was in a very dark place. The hardest part to deal with, and what made me feel panicked, was losing my family unit and having to share my children. My thoughts would run away with me; I would only see my children half of the time, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I constantly felt angry and struggled to deal with seeing my husband whenever he came to collect the children. I remember thinking it would be easier for me to deal with it if he was dead. It’s awful now to think I had these bitter thoughts, but at the time, I just struggled with seeing him and how I was feeling.”

I grieved the loss of my family unit

“After months of being at rock bottom, I felt desperate, and, at the time, I felt that the only way for me to be happy again was to try and make my marriage work. I knew I probably wouldn’t ever get over what happened, but I felt so desperate to keep my family together that I couldn’t see any other way. At least if we were together – so would my family. For about 9 months, I tried my best to ‘carry on as normal,’ with my then-husband promising me the world and how he would ‘fix us’, but in the process, I lost myself. I would panic and worry when he wasn’t with me. If he went to do the food shop or went out for a run, my mind would be on overdrive, wondering if he was calling ‘her,’ or if he was going where he said he was. My trust had been broken and was unfortunately unrepairable. I fell out with the closest members of my family because they could see what it was doing to me, but I was still so desperate that I thought this was the only way. I started lying to them, making excuses for him and tried to keep them at a distance so I could try to prove to them that I could sort this mess out, hoping that once I had done, they could see I was happy again, and all would be forgiven and forgotten. Things just got worse. I couldn’t function or think properly. I felt run down. I couldn’t eat, I didn’t want to leave the house, I had chest pains and one morning, I rang my stepdad crying and told him I didn’t want to live anymore. I knew then that things had to change, and I had to pick myself up for the sake of my children.”

The doctor diagnosed me with a broken heart

“That afternoon, my best friend took me to the doctor. I told her about the pain in my chest, and I poured everything out to her. She told me that I had a broken heart and diagnosed me with anxiety and depression. She gave me a telephone number for some counselling and talked to me about antidepressants. I remember she said, ‘I promise you that you will get through all of this.’ I didn’t believe her. I went home and told my husband enough was enough and that I had to be on my own with the children. I needed them with me to have a purpose to get myself well again. He respected my decision and apologised profusely for what he had done to me. I reluctantly started taking the medication from the doctor and going to counselling sessions once a week. I felt embarrassed about taking the pills and didn’t tell anyone (only my friend who came to the doctor with me knew). The stigma around antidepressants and them being ‘happy pills’ was at the forefront of my mind, and the worry of people thinking I wasn’t coping. They didn’t make me happy; they took away the ‘fuzziness’ in my head so that I could think straight. Antidepressants are certainly not the answer for everyone. No one’s mental health or situation is the same, but for me, it felt like I could step forward.”

I needed to get help

“Counselling was a place I could talk to someone, who didn’t know me, who I felt didn’t judge me, and it was my one hour a week that I could just sit down in a quiet room and talk away. I could slowly feel myself coming back. I felt like a better mummy to my three children. I had more patience; I was able to take them out and not panic about being out of the house. I surrounded myself with friends and family again, who are worth their weight in gold. Simple things – meeting for coffee, chatting on the phone, going for a walk, and I even went back and re-joined the gym. The next hurdle I had to face was divorce, selling our family home and joint businesses. I went to see a solicitor, who talked me through everything, gave me good advice and started the ball rolling. I had a wobble. Having to produce my marriage certificate to get divorced. Seeing things in writing was heartbreaking. I had built a life with this man for 16 years, and there I was, filling out forms to end it all. I had to keep reminding myself that this was the right decision for me, and especially for our children. Someone told me that it’s better to have two separate parents who are happy, than two parents together who are unhappy. I couldn’t agree more.”

Figuring out my finances

“Another big worry I had, was finances. I had left my career in the police force five years previously so that I could bring up our children. My husband had financially supported us, but now how was I going to go back to that career, working shifts of all hours, as a single mum? Fortunately for me, my husband wanted me to have our house, and we agreed that everything else was to be split 50/50. With so much to deal with, it needed to be baby steps with everything. One step at a time. Closing joint bank accounts, sorting out a rota for the children, and co-parenting with us being on the same page. There wasn’t any rush, though. It just had to be when I felt ready. I decided that I wanted to sell the house to have a fresh start, and I would find myself a new job that I could work around the children.”

Finding myself again

“I was on holiday with my family, sat around the pool looking for inspiration for a new job. One that would work for me around 3 young children. And I came across the franchise Sweaty Mama—a fitness class where you take your babies and children with you. I had always been into sport and fitness, so it seemed perfect for me. After studying for the relevant qualifications, in pre and postnatal fitness, 6 months later I started my own Sweaty Mama business. I firmly believe that surrounding yourself with like-minded women is a must. Sweaty Mama creates a community for women, many on maternity leave. The exercises sessions are a non-judgemental class, where pre and postnatal women can feel comfortable to exercise, bond with their babies and form friendships.”

Sweaty Mama

I felt strong again

“After 10 months, I eventually felt strong enough to stop taking my medication and swapped my counselling sessions with evenings out with my friends. I met my new partner in a bar on a night out with friends. I was honest and open with him about everything, and I knew I had to put my trust issues to one side to make any new relationship work. I didn’t want to have trust issues. I didn’t want to be that girl who has to check their partner’s phone, and I didn’t want to worry when their other half goes on a lads’ night out. I told myself that he hadn’t given me any reason not to trust him, so I needed to, and he went above and beyond to make me feel relaxed and trusting. After 18 months of being together, I sold my house, and we bought a house together. We have a blended family, with my three children, his son and nearly six years down the line, and we now have a baby together. This wasn’t the life I thought I would have when I got married. It’s different, but it works, and I’m happy. I think about everything that happened quite often. I even sometimes have a cry about it. But I’ve accepted that it’s normal to still feel sad occasionally. It still often bothers me having to share my children, as sometimes I feel like I miss out on moments I shouldn’t have to. They are happy. They go between two happy, loving homes and have two parents, who are now friends, trying to do our best for them and putting them at the top of our priority. We are making it work.”

“My doctor was right though – I did get through it.”

My advice for other people going through it

  1. It’s ok to feel sad
    “Let yourself feel that emotion. There will be good days and bad, and eventually, the balance should alter so there’s much less bad. There’s no shame in getting external help when it comes to your mental health.”
  2. Use some sleep aids
    “In the beginning, the nights were the worst, and I relied on lavender pillow sprays, calming candles and meditating. When the children were in bed, and I was on my own, that’s when my brain ‘fired up!’ I wanted to try and stop my brain from working!! It was horrible. I felt like I was going crazy, so I looked for things to try and help me calm down.”
  3. Try not to focus on the family unit
    “You might not be happy right now, but eventually you will, and two happy parents are better than an unhappy home.”
  4. Get some advice and read up on your rights
    “Solicitors offer a free 30 mins consultation. So, I went to 3 or 4 and used my 30 minutes to gauge a feel for them. Did I like them? Did I connect with them? The solicitor who I chose in the end I felt was fair, straight to the point, and I felt they would have my back if things went pear-shaped. She gave me tips on how to protect myself financially ‘just in case.’”
  5. It’s ok to feel like you’re in shock and overwhelmed
    “If you’re asking, ‘What should I do?’. You need to think about what is right for you and not for someone else’. It’s ok to make mistakes or change your mind as you navigate something that could be unexpected and unwanted.”
  6. Let others help you
    “Surround yourself with good family and friends and don’t be scared to let them lift you. You will get through it!”
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