After seven years navigating our way through cross-country moves, building businesses, and designing our dreams hand in hand, at the age of 32 I asked my husband for a divorce.
For years I prayed in earnest, begging some greater force to never let me hurt him. I cared for him so profoundly, so fully—I was always afraid of breaking his delicate, almost juvenile heart. We had sacrificed immensely for each other: He took on the larger part of our financial security; I steered us through his deepest depressions, edited his novels, encouraged his best business ideas on his darkest days, and cooked, cleaned, and cared for him in every way I could.
I cleared gutters, shoveled snow, cut his hair. I didn't mind the sacrifice; at the time I believed it was in support of something greater than me, his artist within. I thought then that I knew love. I thought then that I was happy.
But I was living my life raising a grown man. I was not a wife but a mother, a maid, an editor, a business partner, a handyman. I gave all of me away, hinged upon my fallible belief in some godly ability of his to write. One day, though, betrayal struck, and I realized he might have never loved me the way he had once promised to.
The thought of life without him was terrifying. He was my every day—my meaning. His family was my own, his friends, his dreams. I had nothing. No savings, no network, no real career, or backup plan. As discussions began and we considered amicably parting, I journaled furiously, begging for some salvation. I would search for a job with a steady income, likely moving far away from the place I had come to call home. We would divide up our meager collection of furniture and home supplies. And financially, I would be on my own.
He wanted nothing to do with taking care of our rescue dog, instead offering up some small financial support to pay for Waylon's special food and medicines. I begged the universe for some financial rescue, some way of steadily supporting my sweet pup and myself.
I'd be remiss not to acknowledge that there was some rush at the range of possibility that was now before me. But after years of building our own small businesses, achieving financial stability felt like some Everest-like endeavor, challenging—nearly impossible, even.
I sometimes don't know how I made it here. For years I fell into a tailspin of meaningless relationships, too much partying, and flailing about as if I didn't want actual happiness. I say I took the long way, the scenic route. I regret none of it, but I wish it on no one. These days, as I finish my 37th year, I embrace the happiness, the peace, the love and purpose I have excavated in my life. As I see other 30-, 40-, and 50-somethings going through their own heartbreaks, I want to save them from some of what I went through.
So, here's a guide to surviving your divorce when doing so seems like the hardest mountain you've ever had to climb: