Keeping the Spirit Alive

What is Left of You After the Divorce War Dust Settles?

by Laura Bell

The Nuclear Family


There are no time-outs on a battlefield, with divorce or any other war.

Divorce wars don't end after the judge declares the divorce final. They just begin. In some instances, the battles continue into the next generation, especially if there are several children and financial entanglements.

Women have to realize early that with divorce, their entire life becomes a quagmire of quicksand. Settlements worked out in court or in conferences do not necessarily become final. They can just as easily be thrown out during the next meeting.

The reality of this comes down to one thing there is no finality with divorce. It takes years to adjust. If you are a writer, write about it. If not, keep a personal diary or journal. Both go a long way to keeping you sane on the worst days.


Your personal battle to maintain your spirit is harder than the face-offs in court. Families that tend to be critical in the best of times are even more so when the divorce guns launch. Nobody involved wants to accept what is happening.

For awhile, you feel as if every time you come up for air, someone is trying to drown you. This starts the day your papers are served. Somebody puts a phone in your hand, and it occurs to you that you have a zillion phone calls to make. If you aren't careful, you may find yourself plugged in continually to a phone and appointments for years to come.

You have to find a way to escape temporarily on a regular basis. Don't voluntarily stand in the line of fire.

Taking a stand for your sanity will not make you popular. As a divorcing adult, you have nonstop responsibilities. You know, earning a living, moving, taking care of the kids, transferring to other schools, etc.

I had a boyfriend during my legal separation. Every time we got together, I was burdened by deadlines. These included finding an attorney, earning money to pay the attorney, finding a new place to live. One night he asked me what was bothering me. I told him I had to find a new place to live. He asked me how long I had to accomplish that. The deadline was five weeks away.

"It isn't tomorrow. There isn't a thing you can do about it tonight. When you are here with me, leave it at the door." His common sense response set me on a road of self-awareness.


Most of us equate doing anything extra for ourselves with spending money. Soon after I was divorced, a move found me three doors down from a tiny county library. My income had been terribly low the previous year. Because of a past library bill, I couldn't qualify for a library card. But they had something almost as good, an ongoing sale of used paperback best sellers for 50 cents each. That saved my sanity during those days.


Spending a certain time every day doing absolutely nothing is a way to gain a foothold on what's left of the real you. This will be among the most difficult things you need to do. You may have to resort to taking walks to the park. You will have to learn to ignore the brain which yells, "You have a bunch of problems which need solving. Get busy."

Sitting still isn't easy, but this is when you hush damaging spirits and listen only to your own. Your heart and common sense will get through the clatter. If you can't find a way to get out, you might start taking long warm baths at night.


It doesn't matter what it is. It can be silly and cheap. It can be as simple as doing the crossword in the daily newspaper. If you need some possibilities, do an Internet search on hobbies.

A few years back, I started crocheting. I bought one hook and one skein of yarn. Every time I got a check, I bought a few more. Crocheting with that yarn kept my nerves still , and the afghan I made has been keeping me warm for years. I have made two since.


You have a lot of companions out there. It is no longer something you have to hide when meeting new people. A divorce changes your entire life. The aftermath should not strip of you of your inner core, but it will try.

Continue to shovel the shrapnel, but don't discard it. Take it to a builder and lay a new foundation. If you have held onto your spirit, your decisions will come faster, your recovery will be speedier, and your decisions more powerful. I know. I am still shoveling.

This article and others in Real Life are sponsored by Julia
Wilkinson, author of Moxie's "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" and the book "My Life at AOL" which is available at or

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