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I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.

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First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over

After we started the divorce process, my ex-husband made the comment, You’re the first one over the wall. At the time, I knew of several women who found their marriages deeply unfulfilling and/or unbearable. Even though they were miserable they were afraid to take the leap and end it. Now I wondered if they were watching to see if I could scale the wall, jump and survive.

Over the past few weeks, several women have sought me out for advice regarding the divorce experience. I’ve leapt and lived (so far) and they want to know how to do it.

Looks like I found an area where I can be helpful. In writing, it’s a good idea to be useful to your audience. I’ve been studying introversion and self-actualization, which fascinate the hell out of me, but people sought me out for guidance regarding the divorce process. Maybe someday I can combine all three areas and be a champ advocate for introverts self-actualizing through divorce.;)

What I am about to impart is how my ex-husband and I handled our divorce.  Obviously, every divorce is different (like irregular moles and severe storms) so take our example with a grain of salt and perhaps a mojito or two.

A Little Background Info

My ex-husband, Jeff, and I were married for 15 years. We have three children (two boys and a girl) ages, 12, 10 and 8 (when we divorced in 2012). We met in college our senior year.  We dated for three years before we married. I was 26 and he was 25 when we tied the knot.  He was raised Jewish.  I was raised Christian.  He acts like an extrovert but has some introvert traits. I’m an introvert. He’s a leader. I’m a softer leader or an independent. He plays with numbers. I play with words. We worked well on  team projects because we had all the bases covered. We complemented each other.

In my opinion, the marriage started to unravel about five years before we actually divorced. It’s tough to speculate why, but the fact that we achieved all of our financial and familial goals may have had something to do with it.  We were left to turn inward and see each other and our own selves. We found we were so different that it was easy to feel misunderstood and inadequate around each other.

I used to lie in bed and wonder if I could stay married for another forty years – until one of us died, or even ten years until the kids were out of the house. He used to pull into our garage after work and sit there dreading entering the house.

Rome Wasn’t Destroyed in a Day

It’s monumentally important for me to say that it took Jeff and me years to come to the decision to divorce. We worked on our relationship, ourselves and our parenting by doing everything from counseling to date nights to meditation. Along the way we grew into people who know themselves.  Our eyes slowly opened.  We learned how to communicate even when it hurt, how to express vulnerability and how to sacrifice external stability for a chance at inner peace.

When Did You Know It Was Time to Throw In the Towel? 

I get this question a lot. Below are the three factors that pushed me over the edge:

1. Realized Alone = Better.  As I wrote in Alone and In Love – To Couple or Not?, I knew it was time to move on when I realized I would rather be alone than stay in the relationship. All the challenges associated with running a household by myself were outweighed by the need to self-actualize. I did not have a fear of loneliness.  I had a deep desire for freedom. I wanted to raise children and be my self (I could not do this within the marriage).

2Discovered Joy and Relaxation with Others.  I thought family hubbub and shiny suburban detritus was the holy grail until I stepped away from it. I volunteered in social services and made friends with artists. I felt at home for the first time in a long time. My nerves unkinked and I began to unfold. I created a support system where I breathed easy. I rarely breathed easy with my husband.

3. Staying Together for the Kids Wasn’t Working. The Kids Were Miserable. I found arguments for both sides of the should we stay together for the kids? question. Here’s one and here’s another one.  Our kids could sense the tension between my husband and me even though we did not fight or vocalize our discontent (much) in front of them.  There was a lot of acting out from the kids and our approaches to discipline clashed. The sub-surface conflict had the whole household in a downward spiral. Everything I’ve read and heard from therapists and experts says that minimal conflict between parents is the best gift children can receive whether the parents are divorced or married.

The End

Should we break it or should we fix it? was a constant subtext in our marital relationship.  Like considerate lovers we waited until both of us were spent before we finished up. No one moved out. No one filed for divorce on their own. We came to the conclusion together that our differences were irreconcilable and called a mediator to set up an appointment.

Since this topic is so vast it will be spread out in a series.  Next week I will explain the actual divorce process – getting your ducks in a row (the house, credit cards, health insurance, budgeting) while maintaining minimal conflict.

What have you always wondered about divorce? Every marriage has its struggles but how much struggling is too much?

Further reading:

What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over Pt. 2: Money Mediation and Accounts (space2live.net)

What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over Pt. 3: The Kids (space2live.net)

What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over Pt.4: Being Alone, Dating and Co-Parenting (space2live)

Is divorce a sin? Deepak Chopra answers

Parenting Advice: Staying Together for the Kids?: Huffington Post

Blossom or Hibernate? In Love and Work, When is it Right to Start Anew?: Space2live

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16 Comments

  1. […] First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over […]

  2. […] First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over […]

  3. […] First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over […]

  4. […] First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over […]

  5. […] First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over […]

  6. Trying2bfree July 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Thank you!! Yes I’m moving forward with my life.

  7. Trying2bfree June 25, 2013 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I am wondering if you all had any heartache? Like did your hubby, want to make it work and you didn’t? And vice-versa. Who was the one who brought the conversation up about divorce? I’m not miserable but I just know I don’t want to be married anymore. I’ve thought long and hard about it. When I see my husband who wants this so bad, to make it work, it breaks my heart and I just stay put. Not to mention this will be my third and last divorce. Obviously marriage is not for me and I need to work on me and learn to follow my heart instead of what others think. We’ve have domestic abuse in the past (him), quitting a job(him) and I just want to be free. I wish he would make this easier for me.

    • brennagee June 28, 2013 at 7:34 am - Reply

      So sorry I am slow with a response.
      I was in a very similar position to you. I was the one who brought up divorce. I initiated. He didn’t want it. I felt absolutely horrible and guilty for a long time. It’s tough being the bad guy. I had the beautiful life – so much security and stability but I was miserable.

      There was no true intimate connection between my former husband and me. Outwardly, we looked like the perfect model family but inwardly, so mismatched. I could never relax with him. He couldn’t understand why I needed time away from him, why I didn’t feed off of actions and intensity. I learned that I could relax and blossom with other people. I needed to be free.

      Now, over a year since our divorce was final, I think we both see we are better off apart,but it’s hard. It’s hard raising children in two different households but I’ve never felt more alive and myself. I’m making choices based on my inner voice.

      Sending you strength and peace. Yes, do follow your heart.
      Brenna

      • Trying2bfree June 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm - Reply

        Thanks Breanna. Yes our stories sound similar. I guess I have two last questions, did you simply say you wanted to divorce or separate? What was your husbands reaction? I too, need the time away, just to be free and enjoy life. We too have an ideal life. I told him that I felt some kind of way and I want him to leave. He hasn’t yet, no longer is employed, so I guess in some ways I feel trapped. Thank you lots!! Helps when someone knows where I’m at!

        • brennagee July 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm - Reply

          Yes, one night as we sat in bed, going round and round again about how our marriage wasn’t happy, I said I wanted a divorce. His reaction was not easy to take. Broke my heart. One of the few times I saw him cry.
          I felt trapped for years. I hope you find relief soon. Hug.*

  8. […] First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over (space2live) […]

  9. […] First One Over the Wall:What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over (space2live.net) […]

  10. Dominique Santos June 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Really great, considerate writing. A great piece and I’m looking forward to reading more on this.

    • brennagee June 6, 2012 at 11:09 am - Reply

      Thank you Dominique. They say write what you know.;)

  11. Bill Arnold June 4, 2012 at 8:10 am - Reply

    As we live our lives and experience the joys and the pains we develop wisdom and knowledge. The value of the wisdom and knowledge is certainly considerable to each of us alone but the true value comes when we can share it with others who could benefit from it as well. I am sure others can benefit from your lived experience. Continue to share Bren.

    • brennagee June 4, 2012 at 8:32 am - Reply

      So very true Bill. Every day the value and peace found in sharing and connecting with others becomes more evident. It feels amazing to be helpful. It’s therapeutic to let my thoughts flood the computer screen. I keep realizing that life is all about experiences and relationships. I get to share both through my writing. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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