HEALTH ISSUES AND DIVORCE: In 3 Parts
By Lynn Kaplan, Certified Divorce Doula & Divorce Coach
Although the recommended length of a blog in 2019 is about 1700 words, I've decided to break this blog into three much shorter parts, as follows: Part One: How Could This Happen To Me? (See Below)
Part Two: The Blessing Of Having My Body Falling Apart (Coming Later in July)
Part Three: Lessons Learned (Coming in August)
I'm breaking it into these three parts for two reasons:
It's finally summer and my hope is that all of you get in as much outdoor and social time as possible.
And for those who suffer from chronic illnesses including brain fog, fatigue, pain or any of the many symptoms that just make everything more difficult, I felt shorter readings would be more accessible.
For readers that don't suffer, my hope is that this blog will help you better understand any friends, family members or colleagues whose relationships have been affected by either physical or mental health issues.
For those who do suffer, my heart is with you and I do hope you find some inspiration from this Three Part Series, and that it helps you get through the day, month, year a little easier.
Here we go...
How Could This Happen To Me?
Why have I chosen to dedicate this Blog Post to writing about my personal experience with health issues? Well, through my years of working with others as a Divorce Doula, I have come to understand that my situation is not unusual. Many clients have come to me with similar stories of how their physical or their mental health issues were the root cause of their marital breakdown.
There are others who strongly feel the unhealthy dynamics of their relationship contributed to their physical or mental health challenges. With their relationship ending, whether it was their choice or not, these clients have finally been able to take charge of their health issues, in some cases building a life that successfully manages these challenges, and in others, fully recovering. Just the other night I was discussing this topic with a divorced friend. She said over time in her marriage of 20 plus years her emotions became “flat” and she was constantly sick. Now, after being divorced for a few years, she rarely gets sick and her emotions have been released to the point where she finds passion and excitement in every day.
Another friend has spoken to me about the depression she had for many years during her marriage. As her husband showed no compassion for these challenges, she hid them from him and from her children, somehow carrying on as the “perfect” wife and mother; while she suffered silently. She finally chose to end her marriage as she felt she could no longer continue with this emotional pain. Within a year of separating, she feels free of any signs of depression. In looking back she realized that being in a relationship where she couldn't be herself, but rather the image that her husband wanted her to be, had greatly contributed to her postpartum and years of depression.
How do I begin to talk about my own chronic health issues, something so private, yet something that I know by sharing, has the potential to help so many others who suffer either physically or emotionally. I do know that every person with any illness has their own story, their own situation, their own disabilities and their own abilities.
This is just my story, the story of how I handle it, how I cope and manage, how I am driven to thrive come hell or high water. I have chosen, prior to this, not to share publicly about my personal health as I certainly don't want my disabilities to define me.
I entered into my second marriage with back issues, migraines and a few other minor challenges. I also brought into it my young daughter from my first marriage. I was financially stable. I independently owned a semi-detached home in central Toronto. A business that I had started from scratch with hard work and hope was thriving. There was also the possibility of a working farm, just outside the city, on the horizon. The future looked amazing.
Then the shift happened.
My health drastically changed, to where every daily activity became a challenge. Our beautiful son was a late preemie newborn, but I could barely take care of him. I spent most of my days in bed where I tucked him in close to me and just cuddled as much as I could. One major frustration was that it took several years to finally get a proper diagnosis. Even worse, it turned out there was no cure, only management.
My then-husband and I came to understand that my health issues would forever affect every choice we made; very much limiting our lives physically and possibly financially. By the time my son was five and a half, my then-husband was struggling with all the extra responsibilities and the many limitations. His way to deal with it was to make a clear-cut decision to leave.
Many couples are able to hold their marriages together through such hardships. Many others can't. In our case, the extra responsibilities, having to give up certain activities, the need to adjust our daily lives both financially and physically, was not what my then-husband wanted to do. After he left, I was absolutely petrified. How would I take care of my children, let alone myself? A sense of panic followed me around those first days, weeks and months. However, I gradually realized there really was no choice but to dig deeply within myself to find a strength I never knew I had. Although I had often heard Nietzsche's affirmation of resilience: "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger,'' I came to live by it. Somehow, somewhere I found a way to adjust our lives, so that I could thoughtfully and gently meet my children's needs and my own needs in a positive manner.
It's now 11 years later. I'm so very grateful that my then-husband made the choice to leave. Had he stayed, I would have continued to feel inadequate every single day, while my spirit continued to diminish. With him being out of the house, I could have the absolute freedom to adjust my life to best suit my needs on my own terms, along with finding creative ways to raise my children. I didn’t know it then, but, wow, did I ever need him to walk! When he closed the door on our relationship, so many other doors opened up for me to walk through. And slowly, steadily, I did.
The Blessing Of My Body Falling Apart
Coming Later In July
The Lessons I Learned
Coming In August
My introduction to this book was via my Family Mediation mentor, Joyce Young, a very wise woman (now a retired mediator). It is a book that has stood up to the test of time and continues to help many to understand and shift unhealthy relationships. Why read it if you are already divorced from them?
1. If you have children - there will always be some sort of interaction and wouldn't it be nice if you felt more empowered when those moments occur?
2. Better understanding ourselves and how we interact and respond with others will only improve all our relationships, not just romantic, but with friends, family, children and colleagues.
I am quite interested in the science behind HOW the human brain works and HOW to shift our thinking into more positive outlooks. Dr. Brian Goldman has done a beautiful job on introducing us to how powerful kindness and empathy to others is in leading us to a more joyful life. It’s easy and free to implement once you understand the path.
Everybody should read this book- going through a divorce or not. It's also the book to read if you are considering separation. You will learn very good skills from it that will help you wade through all the difficult conversations
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