Coping with Rejection After Divorce
I have been divorced now for over 10 years and for the most part my life has been both happy and fulfilled since then – in fact I am getting married again this fall to a man I love dearly.
Although you do eventually forgive and move on, the one thing you never forget is the gut clenching feeling of being unwanted, so much so that the fear of rejection remains with you always. I had been married to my first husband for 23 years. We were childhood sweethearts and I could never imagine life without him. The idea of him leaving me was laughable – until the day it actually happened.
Up until the day he walked out, I had no idea that anything was wrong. He had a tendency to be a little moody but that was nothing new. He actually told me that he was leaving the night before we were due to move house. I remember staring at him as if he’d lost his mind. It was as if an alien had suddenly inhabited his body. This was David, my best friend, the one person in the world that I believed I could trust implicitly.
For the next few weeks I survived on auto pilot. My sister came over and helped me move house and my children of 18 and 14 tiptoed around not knowing how to deal with me or what to say. Devastated themselves, they also had to deal with a mother who was barely able to function. I alternated between convincing myself that he would come back with attendant feelings of calm, and periods of despair when I would cry or scream and throw things around the room.
David was reluctant to see me and I would concoct all kinds of reasons why we needed to meet, just so that I could see him and hear his voice. I believed that somehow I could convince him to come back and when I saw him, the pain inside me was like a physical thing. I am ashamed to say that on more than one occasion I attacked him, wanting to inflict on him the same pain that I was feeling.
One of the worst things was that I didn’t really know why he had left. He didn’t want me, obviously, but he refused to tell me that he no longer loved me. Then one day I tried to contact him at work and I was told that he had left for the day. Not knowing where he was living, I asked if they had a contact number and was told to try ‘Samantha’ who was a work colleague. All of a sudden things clicked into place. This was a woman he’d spoken about on several occasions. I felt physically sick and had to rush to the toilet to throw up. I remember sitting on the floor with my back against the radiator, a large glass of wine in hand, unable to communicate with anyone. Inside my mind I was screaming. I drank myself into a stupor while leaving countless and increasingly slurred messages on his cell answer phone.
When he finally called me back, he denied that he and Samantha were having an affair but flatly refused to meet with me to discuss it further or to let me speak with her. He admitted that he was living in a bedsit and latching on to this like a drowning woman, I managed to find out the address from another work colleague, determined that I would catch them together.
I drove my car to his flat and sat outside for 10 hours waiting for him to return. He never did.
Sometime in the early hours of the morning something inside me started to change. I realised that I was on a slippery slope. If I continued on the path I was on, I would most likely have a nervous breakdown. I knew that somehow I had to pull myself together, not just for myself but for my children too.
From that moment, I started to move on.
At first it was only tiny steps. I still told myself that he would come back to me but as time wore on, I realised that it was never going to happen. I threw myself into work, taking a training course to teach English as a foreign language which was the best thing I could have done. I met new people from a myriad of backgrounds and suddenly found that I could go hours without thinking about David at all.
I changed my job and very slowly the hurt started to fade.
I have had some fun times since my divorce and have done things that I missed out on by marrying at 18. I also like the post-divorce me a lot better and I truly believe that I have gained far more than I have lost from my experiences.
But I will never forget the bewilderment and the hurt. The memories live inside me like it all happened yesterday. I have found it very hard to trust and I still have that constant fear of rejection. I tell myself that I will never allow anyone to hurt me in the same way again and, for the most part, I believe it.