“This Is Divorce At…” is a HuffPost Divorce series delving into divorce at every stage of life. Want to share your experience of divorcing at a certain age? Email us at email@example.com or tweet @HuffPost Divorce
Below, Aimee Vlachos, a single mom who split from her husband a little over a year ago, shares what it’s like to be a divorce thirtysomething.
I like to think of myself as a highly functioning crier. Although I have spent most of the past few months crying off and on at random times, I always seem to do it while in the midst of something else. I have learned to wear my sunglasses while running just in case a particular song on my iPod sets me off again. It sometimes hits me when I am driving home from work or cooking dinner.
A little over a year ago, after my 35th birthday, I moved out of the house my husband and I bought right after our wedding. My son and I moved into a small rental down the road with what little furniture and possessions I had. My 10-year relationship had been filled with dysfunction and unhappiness. But it wasn’t the discovery of the hidden bank account, the fling with the college girlfriend (reconnected thanks to Facebook), or the separate bedrooms that led to me leaving my entire life behind. It was the day that my 2-year-old son asked me to hug daddy the way that I hugged him, when I realized that I had to go — we had to go. Our dysfunctional relationship was now affecting the most important person to me, our son.
The funny thing is, my son was the reason I had stayed for so long. As a child of divorce, the last thing I wanted to do was repeat the pattern with my son. I was willing to stay in an unhealthy relationship just so my son could have mommy and daddy in the same house. I thought that I could pretend that we were a happy family and he would believe it. I forgot how intuitive children are, how observant. I knew I had to leave in order to show him what two happy parents look like, and in our case, it was apart.
Going through a divorce in my thirties is something I never thought I would have to experience. I felt like a pariah in my small seaside town. I was the first divorcé at my son’s preschool and suddenly moms were cancelling play-dates and not letting their kids come over to my new house. All of our couple friends from the marriage deserted me and began taking turns bringing dinners to the man I had left.
Divorce is hard, no one can argue that. But going through divorce in your thirties adds a whole new level of conflicting emotions. You feel guilty going out on a Saturday night with your newfound single friends and having a good time. You go on a date and run into parents from your son’s playgroup. It really has taken me a year to feel OK with my decision and to try to stop worrying about what others think about me and the choices I’ve made. After all, this is my life, not theirs, and I deserve to be happy. Life does not end at 36, it only gets better.