By Karen Millon
At the end of the winter of 2013 while traveling for work, and completely out of the blue, I met my soulmate. He was my perfect match in every single marker.
But there was just one problem: I was married to a good man with two small children. Unexpectedly, one switch came on (the vision of finally living with someone like me) and one switch turned off (my marriage).
To explain this a little further, I was unhappily married for the last 6 years of the 17-year union. It wasn’t that we hadn’t tried. Through talk therapy, individually and as couples, I was able to understand our issues, our differences, and what I deserved. While talk therapy was essential to gain a cognitive understanding of what our issues were, I remained deeply lonely and unhappy.
In a matter of one day, I made the difficult decision to leave my husband of 13 years (we had spent 17 years together).
This story had the potential to become another cliché marked by betrayal, anger, and hostility. But instead, my ex-husband and I decided to work hard towards our long-time friendship and putting our children first. It turned out this hard work also put ourselves first, too.
We both had the clarity that as painful as it was for us both, we did not want the end of our marriage to be the end of our friendship and the end of our family. My childhood taught me that fathers matter. Unlike mine, I wanted my girls to have a present and active father in their lives. I was not going to let the divorce get in the way of that. We also had the vision and clarity of wanting to be able to spend time together as a family.
But it is one thing to have the vision and clarity, and another to follow through when it comes to the day-to-day realities and anguish of separating two lives after 17 years.
A Focus on Healing After Divorce Was The Key
I started therapy with EMDR Treatment (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) twice a week for the first 3 months to deal with my grief, guilt, and deep childhood wounds. My ex saw an excellent EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapist) that brought light to the poor attachment and deficiencies that our marriage experienced.
For the first 3 months of the separation, we faced and honored our grief. We talked and cried together for hours a night for weeks. We talked and talked and talked until we could not talk anymore. Nothing, no explanation was left unsaid.
I was also lucky to be running my own business so I was able to take a lot of time off to help the children grieve. I took them out for lunch daily during school days to talk and be there for them. I would give them as many child-friendly reasons why their dad was a great dad, but why we had grown apart. I offered clear examples of how different he and I were – things like “have you noticed how Mommy loves to stay home all day and Daddy loves to be out all day? Or how Daddy loves the sun and Mommy loves the shade?” I would remind them of how we fought too much and that this was not normal.
I wanted to show them what a happy, healthy marriage looked like. How I wanted Daddy to meet someone who loved him and was perfect for him. How we were always going to love them and be there for them together, as well as apart. How we would live nearby, and how they could see their Daddy any time they wanted.
I believe that one of the issues today with divorce is that most people don’t honour the grieving process and mask their pain with work, alcohol, or rebounds.
Healing after divorce allowed us both to mourn and grieve. Honouring this allowed us to process and let go of our pain, accept our guilt, and work through the sadness. Therapy allowed us to clearly see our part, and when you see your part, this brings compassion and empathy for the other. Therapy enabled me to apologize emphatically and profusely for my part – for also neglecting him as well as for the awful way in which I left him. While I was not unfaithful, no one, no one deserves disloyalty or to be left for someone else.
Forgiveness comes a lot easier after heartfelt apologies!
Going to therapy with an objective professional allowed us both to take responsibility for our parts in the break-up. This sense of responsibility allowed us to see that having let our children down once, we would now place them first. We would do the best that we could with this situation. Emotionally and financially. When life throws you lemons, you make lemonade!
Focusing on Healing After Divorce Helps Your Children
Since our separation, our girls have succeeded socially and academically because we had their backs and best interest first and foremost. They felt prioritized, rather than pulled apart and in the middle of a battleground. From day one, our girls saw their mommy and daddy continue to walk them to school together, amicably have dinner together and vacation together like before, but without the usual fighting that had marked our past. They saw their mom and dad truly happy with other people.
Today, almost seven years after our initial separation, my ex-husband and I are close friends. We have been able to share the girls equally and generously, spend time together on a weekly basis, and vacation as a family. My ex is good friends with my new husband, the man for whom I left him. He is also an engaged and active godfather to my third child – she just adores him.
He gave us his blessing to move to New York City from Toronto, Canada in the fall of 2017 so that I would finally be able to live together with my new husband. My ex has been flying down from Toronto to visit his daughters, usually, 3 weekends each month, staying in our home as our guest — and often planning weekend outings for all of us to enjoy our time together. Having a happy blended family would not have been possible had we not focused on healing after divorce and setting up a healthy foundation.
With divorce, it might seem much, much easier to stay angry and bitter and to attack each other, than to do the difficult healing work. It takes much more work and vulnerability to tackle all the feelings that are behind all that anger – sadness, rejection, guilt, betrayal, etc.
Anger hurts you, hurts your health, hurts your finances catastrophically, your chances of finding new love, and most importantly, it wounds and scars your children for life. There is another way. It is not easy to heal, but it is worth it, and it will lead to a better, more peaceful way.
I am now on a mission to inspire others via @amazingdivorce on Instagram to heal and to achieve a more peaceful divorce. I am creating a “Healin Podcast” and begun www.healin.net network where people can choose the right path for their healing journey. Their reward, like it was for me, will be deeper and more sustainable happiness.
Karen Millon is a successful business entrepreneur with over twenty (22) years of professional business experience, working as advisor to the CEO and CFO of Purolator, Inc., Canada’s largest courier service, and subsequently as Co-Founder & President of Lifelike BioTissue Inc., a manufacturer of high-fidelity surgical simulation and education products. She has always associated professional achievement with overall success and wellbeing.
At the end of the winter of 2013, while traveling for work in the USA, and completely out of the blue, she met her soulmate. She separated from her husband of 14 years the next day. Despite the abrupt and difficult ending, through a focus on deep healing, mindfulness and mindset, nutrition, faith, and love, she was able to quickly create an amazing divorce from the very start.
Today, her husband is a physician on the front lines of one of New York’s most affected hospitals, Brookdale University & Hospital Medical Center, and she is using all the same tools and principles from 2013 to remain calm, proactive, and to inspire others to do the same. She is working on her new book and establishing www.healin.net, a network of vetted and certified therapists and deep healers that can help each person go deep, and eliminate recurring and current roadblocks and negative memories that can help each person achieve sustainable self-esteem and happiness to be able to live amazing lives.
P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!
With support and strength,