The divorce experience can be riddled with fear; fear of the unknown, fear of change. The epic shift from our normal life can uproot us and evoke deep anxieties within us. What I am finding, is that the actual divorce process itself has sparked great fear within me. The legal jargon, the cold, alien formalities, the loaded letters from solicitors, I cannot lie, it has all scared the life out of me.
Letters from my husband’s solicitor, for example, are often politely worded threats or accusations with passive aggressive undertones, all designed to scare me and make me comply. Before I delve deeper into this, first let’s think about fear itself.
Fear is often at the core of every negative emotion we feel. When someone leaves us it unearths deep fears within us. How will I live without them? What will happen to me now? Will anyone love me again? Am I unlovable? If I let someone in, could they do this to me as well? These are all very natural questions that will arise. Something important to you, that you once thought of as solid has crumbled and it has unpinned a lot of the foundations you once stood on.
Fear can ravage the mind. It can destabilise you, make you feel like you are a leaf in the wind, being blown around at the mercy and command of the elements. Fear becomes that heavy burden that has firmly attached itself to the grief you are experiencing during the separation or divorce.
As humans, we can have a desire to want to hide ourselves away and not face what is happening. This is how we can feel when being faced with the frightening unknown but this will only make the problem bigger in your mind and ultimately, harder to face. The fear will begin controlling you and robbing you of what little sense of peace and freedom you have been working so hard to muster together.
Imagine for a moment, that you are a little kid that believes that a monster lurks beneath your bed. At night you hear its terrifying growls, you see the enormous shadows it casts upon your wall, you can practically feel its hideous breath on your face. You hide under the covers and lay still, hoping it won’t notice you. Every night you do this. You begin to dread bedtimes, you avoid being alone in your room and the darkness becomes intolerable.
One night you decide that you have had enough. You take your torch and you bravely wave it under your bed, tonight you will look this monster in the eye! When you do, you are shocked by what you find. Absolutely nothing! The ferocious monster in your head simply did not exist. The tricks our minds play!
When we don’t face things head on, the monster will only become bigger, scarier and more powerful. You look that monster in the eye and tell it to stand down!
Looking the monster in the eye can mean imagining the worst case scenario and almost experiencing it in your head. When you confront your fears, you start to chip away at its power and control over you and this can change your thought processes, your behaviour, the decisions you make and the actions you take during your divorce.
The divorce process is full of unknowns and complex legal language which was all totally new to me. Each letter would inspire deep anxiety and also anger. I would feel enraged at the lies, the threats, the manipulation that those letters reeked of. It was suggested that I ask a family member to read the letters to me when they arrived. This can really help. Hearing the letter being read by someone you love seems to make them lose their ferocity somehow.
I was living in fear of those letters. When would the next twist, in the horror that was becoming my life, be pushed through the mailbox? I would ask myself, how am I going to survive this? How can I stand against these people? How can I overcome? This feels so big and I feel so small. It reached such a pitch that it was making me feel physically unwell.
I also found it incredibly unsettling seeing this whole different side to my husband. Someone who had looked out for me and cared for me for so many years suddenly didn’t seem to care for my well-being or my feelings at all. It was like my protector had become an enemy, driven solely by self interest and self preservation.
All in all, I felt overwhelmed, surrounded and frightened.
One day, as I was reading my bible, I came across a small illustration of Moses parting the Red Sea. This tiny little drawing didn’t do justice to the magnitude of what those people who witnessed this awesome miracle must have experienced, no drawing could. God’s people, the Israelites, were at a standstill. They were surrounded by an enemy that was closing in on them as they stood at the edge of a mighty sea. The fear they felt must have been overwhelming. It looked like the end, but it wasn’t. God made a way for them. He is the way maker.
God parted the sea for them. In doing this He was showing them that they had their full freedom, that nothing would stand in their way, even nature itself would be no match for them! He would protect them and make their path to safety clear.
God wants us to live in full freedom, free of fear. He wants to make our paths clear, to part the waters you may be facing.
Are you standing at the edge of the sea? Are you surrounded? Are you looking out to the impossible and saying, how can I survive this?
(NIV) Romans 8:31
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”