Belinda and her husband had been married for almost twenty years when he left. She had just turned fifty and thought her life was over. Belinda and her husband used the collaborative process to settle the terms of their divorce. 

What I wish I had known:

That I was stronger and had more support than I realised. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time thinking he would change his mind.

The low point:

The immediate period after he left I was in a state of shock. Unable to function properly, crying into the night. I thought my life was over (I had just turned fifty). I realised how much I depended upon my ex for various practical elements in my life which made his going not only emotional but frustrating on a practical level which in turn undermined my confidence. Especially in the area of new technology. However, through necessity I started to work slowly through these issues and discovered in the process how capable I actually was which did wonders for my self esteem and confidence. I also discovered what a wealth of knowledge I had amongst my friends and how wonderful most of them were in offering support. Obviously it was important at this time to have special friends who were prepared to offer comfort and just listen but I decided very quickly that off loading was something that I would temper. Of course if you are in real grief people understand and will be there for you but I felt it was important not to overload friends. I didn’t want to wear them out. I needed their support and not just to be a drain. Certainly for me a positive approach seemed to encourage help and support. For this reason I took advantage of the counselling that Family Law in Partnership offered and did a good deal of offloading that way. Another method I used to get me through the really bad days was to write down exactly what I was feeling. I don’t know why this should help but somehow writing it down did. I recently found some of these jottings which are now a few years old and it was fascinating to see how far I had come.

The certainty that I did the right thing:

With the passage of time I can now look back at my life before the divorce and what I have achieved since. Although it wasn’t my choice to divorce my life since has been transformed and all for the better. I was 50 years old when my husband left and I really thought my life was over. Far from it! I have over the past few years discovered so much about myself. I have grown in confidence, learnt new skills, gained a multitude of friends, improved my health and appearance, travelled more than I ever thought possible. I have really enjoyed being in control of my self and my surroundings. Making my own choices. Of course its not always been easy or straightforward but its never been boring and generally positive. Sometimes we need shaking out of our ruts and although it was a rather traumatic way to do it and certainly not pleasant initially I actually feel rather grateful to my ex husband for making the decision to go.

What I would do differently:

I am not sure there is anything. I was very lucky in that my ex actually suggested going through the collaborative process. This meant that the actual divorce proceedings never escalated into a nasty confrontation and it also meant that I was forced to face my husband and over the period of time we were in negotiation I think this enabled me to really see who he was or had become and this in turn helped the healing process.

It would be easy to say I wouldn’t have wasted so much time grieving over the loss of our relationship but I think that would have be-littled what had gone before. The grieving was painful but necessary for me to come to terms and then move on.