Have you ever had the dream where you were in school and mid-semester you remembered that you had totally forgotten to attend a certain class? The day you finally remember to go, you wander the halls looking for the class and once you find it, the teacher passes out a test. I have this dream every few years and I’m always a little relieved when I wake up.
Being faced with divorce is a real life version of this nightmare.
Today, I met with a beautiful young mother who had recently found out her husband was being unfaithful. His choices are so cliché that I am sad for him, but not as sad as I feel for her and certainly not as sad as I am for their very small children who will never remember their parents sharing the same home. She is in the middle of a nightmare and she cannot wake up. She feels overwhelmed. Her future seemed so secure just a few weeks ago, but now it’s all out the window. She is basically freaking out. I totally get it. Everything she has known is about to be different. She is about to summit the Himalayan Mountains and she forgot her backpack. She just woke up and was standing at base camp. She had so many questions and her mind was racing in dozens of directions. As with any complex predicament, the best thing I could do as her attorney was to break the problem into a series of small tasks with logical solutions. While her future as a whole is uncertain, her next step is not. After she takes that step, there will be another…… after that, one more. You see, if she tried to think through the next 3 months or 3 years, it will be more than she can take. But if she just only thinks about the next thing she is going to do, it is a little more tolerable.
A divorce is a crushing experience. You grieve through it like a death. The difference between a divorce and a death is that a death is final. With divorce, there is always the glimmer of hope of reconciliation- that things can be restored to the way they were- even if “the way they were” was not that great. No one can totally prepare for a death or a divorce. When you really don’t see it coming, it hurts the most.
I gave my new client one task today. She did it and I think she feels a little better. Tomorrow, there will be another. Next week, there will be a few more. She will eventually be fine, but it is going to hurt for a while and she will probably do and say a few things she will regret.
There is no such thing as preparing for divorce, all you can do if you wake up back in the classroom is to sharpen your pencil and do your best- show poise and you will be proud of yourself when it over, even if you make a D+, you still passed.
Craig Robertson is a divorce attorney practicing throughout Mississippi.