Humble Advice on My Divorce-versary
Written by: Kaighla Um Dayo Today, June 1st, 2016, marks one year from the day I […]
Written by: Kaighla Um Dayo
Today, June 1st, 2016, marks one year from the day I finally convinced my abusive ex-husband to take me to the Ministry of Justice in Cairo, Egypt and sign our divorce papers.
In commemoration of that day of courage and bravery, I thought I would share a few humble pieces of advice I offer from my own experience.
On Rebound Marriages:
Don’t. Please, please don’t.
I know: you are lonely and the life of a single mom (or even just a single woman) is hard in every conceivable way, but the worst thing you can do is go out right after your iddah and marry the first man who offers.
I know, because that’s what I did. And the results were disastrous. He was essentially my ex-husband, version 2.0, and thank God I saw it sooner rather than later.
I am all for re-marriage (obviously), but it is so important to take some time (however long you feel you need) to get yourself together and heal your heart before you start looking for another fella. Because if you go into a new marriage as broken as you were leaving your old one, you are likely to be drawn to men who– either openly or secretly– keep to the patterns of your past.
How do you know when you are ready? When your rancour and hatred for your ex-husband has cooled off enough to have a calm conversation with him (at least you can stay calm, regardless of his actions), you are coming closer. When you can sit in front of a potential spouse and tell him the truth about your situation without a hint of bitterness or self-pity, you are coming close.
On Emotional Healing:
Let’s do a little activity together, shall we?
Breathe in deeply, through your nose, for 5 seconds. Now, exhale that breath through your mouth. Do this a few times. Imagine the anger and sadness and fear you feel regarding your failed marriage just wafting away from you. When you inhale, imagine joy, and peace, and light, and gratitude filling every cavity of your broken heart.
Now do this exact thing several times a day, every day.
Go outside. Get out into nature and allow the beauty and solitude to heal you, moment by moment.
Find every opportunity to laugh and seize it with all your might.
Try, to the best of your ability, to maybe talk about something other than your ex-husband and all the ways he hurt you.
I know, it may be all you can think about, and it may be crippling your forward movement, but your friend loves you and wants to see you strong and brave, and they are standing by your side to help you get there. Your friend has a life, and pain, and anger, and fear, too, and remember: whatever you heap on her, she has to carry along with her own pain.
Try to imagine how you would feel if that same friend had the same inclination to pour all her bitterness and sadness on you every time you talked with her. Sure, that is something you’d be willing and able to handle for a month or two after the divorce, maybe, but really, there comes a point when it would be too much to carry.
No divorce is worth losing a good friend who just couldn’t handle your wallowing in sadness and anger any longer.
On Peaceful Co-parenting:
Maybe your ex-husband is like mine in the sense that he is a wonderful parent who cares as much as you do about the well-being of your kids, so this is the least of your worries.
But, he may be a tyrant bent on keeping the kids away from you, or on poisoning them against you. My best advice here is to seek legal counsel. Make sure you are getting your rights to custody and upkeep of the children using the legal opportunities available to you. If these are limited based on your country or situation, do the best you can to maintain a calm countenance with your ex-husband in front of the kids.
By all means, keep conversations short, terse, to-the-point, and texting is generally better than talking when you are angry. The worst thing you can do (for yourself and your kids, too) is get into a debate and play the blame game, rehashing all the reasons your marriage failed.
“No sense in beating a dead horse”, as we say in Illinois.
On Healing Your Soul:
Do not allow the divorce-shamers to convince you that you are less-worthy of love from God and others because you are divorced. It was the qadr of Allah (your destiny and fate) that your marriage should fail, regardless how much work, sweat, and tears you put into making it work, and He alone has the wisdom as to why it happened.
Invest as much time and energy as possible in drawing nearer to Allah, as he is the Ultimate Source of Healing (Ash-shafii). Pray more, make more du’a, give in charity, read and recite more Qur’an, perform voluntary fasts, and make as much dhikr (remembrance of God) as possible.
It will get easier, and there will come a day inshaAllah, sooner or later, when you will look back and see that every step along your journey has been necessary for your growth and maturity as a woman, a mother, and a Muslim, inshaAllah.
Kaighla Um Dayo is a writer, blogger, and podcaster. She is the Content Manager & Editor here at my-iddah.com/divorce. She is the creator of Lemonade for Bitter Souls, a website dedicated to helping embittered souls find joy in their hardships. With her friend Theresa Corbin, she ruminates on life as a Muslim American at islamwich.com. She is a regular contributor on AboutIslam, writing about spirituality. Her favorite things are meditation, painting, drinking tea, and being outside in nature.