The Storm of Divorce

About this time last year, South East Queensland was lashed by devastating floods. Small towns, farms and valleys experienced terrible flooding. In my professional role, I was required to spend time in some of these small towns and faming communities as part of the governmental disaster relief program. I witnessed the absolute gouging of the water through the valleys. Whole paddocks washed away. Concrete bridges smashed and thrown down the river like they were driftwood. Scars 9’ high etched through the middle of the valleys. I spoke to some of the farmers who had been through this, and other floods. They spoke of the roar of the river. The recklessness of water. The tyranny of the flood. They experienced it – I just saw the aftermath of it. The effects. The devastation. Watching these farmers gauge how they would rebuild, if they could. Wondering what they would do with a gravel riverbed where acres of paddock used to be. Counting the cost.

At the moment, I find myself in a storm. Not a physical storm, but a destructive storm nevertheless. The storm? Divorce. Before you ask – no, I am not getting divorced, nor separated. I do, however, feel like I have front row tickets, watching the storm that is divorce in an acquaintance of mine. Like any storm, you see the warnings, the signs. You get ready to brace. You prepare yourself for it, hoping somehow it will pass. Hoping the violence of divorce will somehow fizzle out and end up being a storm in a teacup. You put up protective walls around your already bruised heard. And you brace. Then it comes.

The storm rages around you, like the storms mentioned above. The rain pours down, it races down the mountain. It collects, gathers speed. It disregards all in its path. It smashes against those with strong foundations and demolishes those on shifting soils. The storm of divorce is a selfish storm. It cares not for those in its path. It cares not for the devastation it leaves behind in its wake. It thunders down the mountain and rips a deep gouge in the valley of the heart. It separates, isolates, causes fear, shakes foundations.

At the moment, I am seeing this storm shake the family in question. That raging torrent is screaming through the valley. It’s drowning the love that might have been there. It’s ripping away root from earth. How much more destabilising can this storm of divorce be?

This violence that is divorce does not just affect the married people in question. The surge washes over children, parents, extended family, friends. That’s why it’s selfish. I’ve noticed in many a divorce, one, sometimes both people are just being so selfish, disregarding all those with an emotional investment in the marriage, in the health of the family.

You know, it’s easy to feel out of control in the midst of the storm of divorce. The farmers I spoke to told of the gripping fear of helplessness in the midst of the storm. Of being powerless against the anger of the river. Of the rising of the tied. But like the storm in the valley, the storm of divorce subsides. Yes, devastation follows, but that devastation does not define the recovery.

The ‘no fault’ divorce has been a part of Australian Family Law since 1979. Children of those early ‘no fault’ divorce parents are now often married themselves. Many of my peers don’t want their parents’ marriage. They definitely don’t want their parents’ divorce! Regardless of your family history, it’s not your future. You don’t have to be your parents’ marriage. You certainly do not have to be your parents’ divorce! You have the opportunity to create your own family, for you, your spouse and your children.

So if you are suffering under the effects of someone’s divorce, take heart. The storm subsides and the water recedes. From there, you can re-build. You can decide what foundations you want for your life. For your marriage. For your children. You can decide not to inflict the violence of divorce onto those you love – those that need your protection the most.

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38 comments

  1. suzjones

    Wise words indeed.
    I’m sorry for the pain your friends are going through at this time 😦
    Agreed, the floods were devastating. It was terrible to watch and hear the stories coming out of it. And I believe Grantham was hit with a tornado a few days ago also?
    Likening a divorce to devastation such as this is a great analogy.

  2. paulfg

    (I speak as “a close call” case). A really powerful plea for sanity. A really painful observation with affection. Think the truth of the matter is that being in the (divorce) torrent, and being “apart” from it at the same time, is beyond almost all of us. And – if that potential still remained – might mean divorce being “headed off at the pass” before it becomes final. Because once in that torrent – man … as you describe so well …

  3. SAK

    storms are inevitable… we either get washed away or learn to survive them…
    cruel and heartless… emotionally taxing… but it is a course correction…
    we have to live with it…

    • vidinsinbrisbane

      That’s true. As Vedder sings “tidal waves don’t beg forgiveness”. I was trying to relay the pain divorce brings on those with an emotional investment in the marriage.

      Thanks for reading

      P

  4. Rosemary Peteranec

    Spoken with insight and identification with the ‘on lookers’. Definitely a worthwhile discussion. Thanks. As one who has also been ‘affected’ I can agree that the pain and selfishness affect those even down the line. If forgiveness and a resolve to find that ‘first love’ can be found the results can be wonderful. In my work I meet many elderly people who have been married for a very long time. When I ask the secret of a long marriage the answer is invariably, ‘hard work’. These same people will often tell me that their spouse is the most wonderful of all people. It seems that, and speaking of normal well-meaning people, most people want the same end result which is a long and happy marriage to one person. So it must be worth the humility of working toward that goal for the sake of oneself and all others around.

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  6. marycontraryness

    Isn’t it a little simplistic to say divorce is “selfish”? My parents got divorced when my mother got fed up with getting beaten up on a regular basis. Was she being selfish? No she was being strong for her children, because that was not environment for them. Which is more of a “storm” or devastating?

    • vidinsinbrisbane

      I agree, the title is simplistic.

      I’m so sorry to hear the violence you & your mum experienced at your dads hand.

      Your dad was the selfish one, the violent one. He ‘divorced’ himself physically & emotionally way before your parents were legally divorced.

      Your mum was not the selfish one.

      Thanks for stopping by. I truly appreciate your thoughts!

      P

  7. marycontraryness

    Thanks. I do agree divorce is devastating regardless of the reasons, which I think is your main point.

    But I think it is a different thing to judge divorce and those who feel the need to take that step. My father was many things – violent, mean, an emotional cripple – but he was not particularly selfish. Both my parents were beholden to and in a sense a victim of their personal histories and the cultural, economic and social environments they grew up in, but they were also both active participants in their fates and ultimately a terrible marriage that lasted almost 20 years. My point is personal relationships, including marriage, are complex and they cannot be reduced to a few simple statements.

    Divorces can be devastating, but so can marriages. Studies have shown that what is damaging to children is not divorce per se but the bad marriage they may be exposed to. One reason older people are often married for a long time is because they often don’t think they have much of a choice but to stay together. While today younger people may look upon those long marriages with nostalgia, do women really want to be financially dependent on their husbands as was more often the case 50 years ago? Do men want to have to carry the burden of being the sole breadwinner? We live in a very different world and rather than suffering in silence, sometimes divorce offers a much needed relief from a painful relationship. And maybe if you think you have no choice you will put in that extra effort to make it work, that may be true. But divorce offers a choice that was rarely afforded not so long ago and I see this as a positive thing.

    Sorry if I am pushing the point here.

  8. rebeccavt

    Hi, and thank you for liking my post, “Dexter’s New Adventure”. I am a veteran of divorce myself and related to your blog post about it. There’s no simple, clean-cut answer; everyone must do what’s right for them. Best of luck!
    Rebecca

  9. mom4peaceuu

    Well put. My own divorce was the sort that has to happen. As others mentioned, divorce can be what frees someone from abuse, lies, and a host of other wrongs that just don’t repair. It was interesting to watch how others reacted to our divorce. Given the damage my ex left behind him, I ended up with the friends. Husbands of my girlfriends were largely silent, unable to give voice at the time to what horrified them about a once-friend’s behavior. Girlfriends told me about their marriage problems, and several worked hard to make their marriages stronger. It was, indeed, a blow — and wake-up call — to many around me. An apt metaphor well executed. Bravo!

    Sarah

  10. floridaborne

    I’ve been through divorce and can tell you that it can be a relief for all involved. The ones who are hurt the most are children, but sometimes it’s best to break ties when they’re younger. My 2nd husband was much older than I, his kids by his first marriage were teenagers. He didn’t want to divorce his 1st wife until there was no other choice–staying together “for the children”–and there was constant strife. He wasn’t the type to hit a woman, but that didn’t stop her from being abusive. The children grew up believing it was normal to argue and yell at the people you were supposed to love.

    • vidinsinbrisbane

      Thanks for your story – I’ve heard from a wonderful bunch of people since writing this blog about all sorts of things. Hearing heartbreaking stories & moving forward always inspires me.

      Thanks again,

      P

  11. Joyce

    Enjoyed reading this. And, I know exactly what you mean. And, on occasion divorce is necessary when the marriage is even more destructive than divorce could be.

  12. michnavs

    You have written beautiful metaphors there…you know..discussing a very tragic and personal issue from an entirely different angle…I really didn’t care much about the divorce persee…what struck me was the way you convey your ideas…keep writing

  13. aravindpulickel

    You have written this beautifully.. yet how painful divorce can be..
    I have a question : You offered hope to those who have seen their parents go through divorce. What is your hope based on? Why should not people be afraid of divorce?
    Just questions in my mind, to know what you think,
    Thanks…

    • vidinsinbrisbane

      Great question! I agree that a child of divorce would be scared of marriage. I also think that many people long for a significant other, and, dare I say, a lifelong partner.

      I think fear (being afraid of marriage) can be combatted by education- knowing yourself, knowing your partner, being honest in love. Knowing what you might be afraid of, knowing your own strengths & weaknesses all helps to combat the fear of marriage.

      I know some people have spoken in retrospect of their parents divorce & promise never to be that person in their marriage. I think that’s the hope this article gives!

      I’d love to know your thoughts!

      P

  14. Yara

    I love the allegory of the storm, I find it apt.

    I think each person who goes through the divorce directly or in-directly has their version of it. Speaking as a child of divorce it totally sucks. And only those who have gone through it will understand.

  15. Aldo Moller

    Reblogged this on ALDO MOLLER and commented:
    I found this brave and courageous! May be you know someone that is going through a Divorce situation right now. Encourage that person to read this great posting.

    Is never good to witness a division among families…

    Thanks vidinsinbrisbane!

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