13 Ways A Divorce is Like A Pandemic

a woman holding a red file folder outside on a sunny day

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It’s been almost a year since my 7 year marriage and 11 year relationship fell apart, and while I have been writing constantly as a way of processing it all, I haven’t shared much of it for a variety of reasons. (I do also realize many people will be hearing about my divorce possibly for the first time through this post.) But with the current state of things, and with extra time on my hands to write and process and reflect, I wanted to share, just in case you needed some encouragement, just in case you are going through something similar, or if you just needed something to read this morning. It’s quite personal, and it’s not a perfect comparison, but I’ve been noticing that a lot of the same feelings and situations I felt watching things unravel in my personal life have come up in the midst of this time of isolation, and it’s made me realize how much my divorce prepared me to cope with these strange times. So I present to you:

13 Ways Going Through a Divorce is Like Living Through a Pandemic

1. It’s scary.
You didn’t see it coming and you never would have chosen this and you don’t know what’s going to happen.

2. Things are going to die.
Whether it’s marriage and dreams, or people and loved ones. There is tremendous loss and pain.

3. You have to distance yourself from people you love.
Tear up the roots and untangle your life. Split the dishes and couches and dogs. Or get used to Zoom and Google Meet and driveway happy hours.

4. You want to point fingers.
It could be at China, the current administration, your ex, whomever. You want to find fault or think about how it could have been prevented or why you didn’t see it coming.

5. You find yourself occasionally (ok or maybe all the time for some quarantiners) longing for the past.
You will miss the way some things used to be and wish you could snap your fingers and go back to the good ol’ days.

6. You don’t know what life is going to look like on the other side.
Being in transition is hard, especially when there are so many unknowns. It’s easy to sit and fret about what you will do in the next coming days, weeks and months, and how it will be so different. You wonder “Am I going to be ok?”

7. You are grieving.
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. And you will cycle through them over and over and when you least expect it at times. Some days are fantastic, some days you just can’t seem to get anything done or get out of your funk. Jimmy Kimmel says it well.

8. You have to adjust to a new normal.
Things that seemed insane before (not talking to him or waiting in line at the grocery store or owning and wearing multiple face masks) will become routine.

9. You have to get used to waiting.
As bad as it seems, this too shall pass. Ride the highs and lows and know that often, things get better with time.

10. You have to own your part in things.
Whether it’s how you contributed to the demise of the marriage, or how well you chose to social distance, you have a part to play in the outcome.

11. You will learn really important things in the hard times and the waiting.
Like what matters most to you. What you want your new life to look like. How to get by in tension. How to protect yourself. How weird big cat people are and what the inside of everyone’s houses really looks like.

12. A good dog will get you through.
Be thankful for those snuggles and one million walks.

13. Some things will be better.
On the other side, you might be so grateful it happened for many different reasons.

This is such a crazy, bizarre, unique time in history. If you have the privilege of experiencing it without being sick yourself, or knowing someone who is sick, try to be present and see what you can learn from this madness. My divorce was the hardest thing I have ever been through, but I’m so thankful for my marriage, and for my divorce, all at the same time, and I wouldn’t give back any of the lessons I’ve learned or the woman I have become. I hope you can find some good things to salvage from your quarantine. Let me know what you have been learning or appreciating about all of this. And thank you for being here in my little corner of the internet.

a woman holding a red file folder outside on a sunny day
I took this selfie on the way into the courthouse to turn in the divorce paperwork. I remember everything about that day being so bizarre.

5 thoughts on “13 Ways A Divorce is Like A Pandemic

  1. I love this post! So honest and open. Divorce is a hard thing to go through, and you’re so brave to tackle it in writing.
    I recognize a lot! Including the gratitude I feel for both the marriage and the divorce (though it’s hard to reconcile with the children’s dreams of a family life), and at the same time sometimes wishing to be able to snap and go back.
    It’s the thing you never plan for and it feels so surreal when you’re going through it, in that way it’s totally like this Corona time, indeed.
    Whatever comes after, though, making it through made us stronger. We can handle it.

    1. Thank you Jorinde! You inspired me to to just be “out” with it when I read your post. There is so much power in knowing you are not alone.

  2. This is a very well thought out comparison list and even though I am not going through anything this hard, it speaks to me. I have two personal sayings about grief: “Grief is a strange animal, it shows up when you least expect it, morphs over time and occasionally bites you in the tushie,” and “Grief is a gift, God’s way of giving us a glimpse of how he feels about our losses.” Love you Robin! Keep writing!

    1. Thank you Sharon. The first quote you sent especially hits home. Some days are fine, and others out of nowhere kick you to the curb. I guess you just have to learn how to ride the waves of it all.

  3. Robin and Jorinda, I send my love to you both. I’m in quarantine at a hotel in Taiwan and stumbled upon this today and my goodness, have you been through some challenging times. Relationships are never easy and life is like a roller coaster ride at times…thrilling, scary, with many ups and downs. This is the prayer I pray daily and I you are welcome to use it too. I love you both and can’t wait until we can embrace each other again.
    “Always pray to have eyes to see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soup that never loses faith”
    Not sure if you knew, a friend invited me on her podcast a couple years ago called “this topical life” by Tiffany Murphy. I can’t believe I shared what I did on a podcast but it was so freeing and it took me since then 2018 to forgive and let go. Forgiveness is for you, to set you free! Spread your wings and fly my dear friends!! Love, Luan Lierman

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