I first saw it this morning when I carried my extra-large cup of green tea out onto the veranda. It was standing ram-rod straight in the big terracotta pot, its spiky, shiny leaves in counterpoint to the golden yellow ball. Was this a piece of fruit growing in a pot? No, it seemed to be a flower, a strange and beautiful flower. I made a mental note to Google it later in the day.
It had been raining all night and had only just let up. A fragrant wisp of steam curled up from my cup, tickling my nose in the most pleasant way. A good day to be alive, I thought, just before the old weight that is actually a new weight, came to settle heavily inside me.
Well, it was a beautiful morning. And I could not take my eyes off that brilliant blotch of gold at knee-level. A roil of happiness was slowly uncurling inside me. I was being “in the moment,” as my father advised me to. Poor Dad. It’s rare that he is at a loss for words, my stout-hearted father. Right now, though, he seemed to be floundering. As did Mom. “Why?” she kept asking. They didn’t think I can ever be divorced and happy.
Mourning The Demise Of The Marriage
“It’s my marriage, and I’ll do as I want to,” I want to yell at them. But poor things. It may be my marriage and my impending divorce, but they had been dragged by the undertow, after all, and were trying to stay afloat as best they could. They were just worried for me, worried about how I would rebuild my life after divorce. And I got that.
Divorce changes your life in many ways. For better or for worse. Mourning the death of a marriage, and finding happiness after divorce are neither easily said, nor easily done. My parents had been seeing me struggle for a while now. While I am convinced that being happy after divorce is eventually possible, they don’t think that ‘divorced and happy’ is a real thing.
But I was trying to stay afloat as best as I could to try and completely process the death of a marriage.
I finished my tea, went inside to get ready, have breakfast and leave for work. Ordinarily, I’d have pulled out a dark shirt because it was casual Friday at the office. However, Mom had told me, stuttering slightly over the words, that I must stay off the color black for a while.
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Was I not supposed to be mourning the death of a marriage sartorially? Was I to put on a brave face/shirt, and all that jazz? Strange, because there was a growing contingent (many of my own kith and kin amongst them) who were of the opinion that I had acted hastily in leaving my marriage. Like Mom, they too went, “Why?” I would have thought sober colors would have been the thing to rouse sympathy in those quarters.
But I didn’t ask. I don’t ask anything these days. Before you find happiness after divorce, you have to find clarity.
The death of a marriage…
When I made the decision to leave, I made it calmly, acted on it calmly, and left as calmly as I could manage. The calmness almost camouflaged the terror-inducing courage the move had called for. Today I appear normal to people around me — probably giving them the impression that either I’m the archetypal hard-hearted bitch, or someone typical of my generation, who can walk out of situations and relationships without any visible qualms.
Visible. That’s the keyword. I will let people know only as much as I want them to know. The rest is mine, all mine. Mine to store away, to pick at like it’s a virulent scab, to bring out from the darkness, to examine and then return to its confines. The death of a marriage is not for public consumption. It’s my marriage or the end of it, and I’ll obsess about it as much as I choose.
When I went home for a quick hot lunch, the flower looked even lovelier in the afternoon sunshine. I bent down to sniff it. Nope, no fragrance. Still, it was quite the most stunning flower I had ever seen. And it filled me with a sense of inexplicable joy.
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Divorced And Happy
It had been a week since I moved into my grandmother’s house. No one asks what my plans are; everyone keeps making plans for me. “Keep her busy, keep her happy, keep her entertained.” Not that I have a problem with that. It was just amusing to see the mild panic in everyone’s eyes when they saw me. They didn’t know or understand what I did, but I knew — I had begun finding happiness after divorce. I would soon belong to the ranks of ‘divorced and happy’.
It was still light when I reached home after work, and the garden was bathed in the late evening sunlight. The burnished ball twinkled at me. I twinkled back at it. Later that night, I Googled the plant. The bloom was popularly known as Delight. Four days later, it had withered. But I refused to feel sad. It was another beautiful day. And by then, I had my plan.
I knew the direction my life would take. And as long as it made sense to me, it didn’t have to make sense to anyone else. I was a divorced and happy woman, and that was my truth.
Different studies reveal different results, but a credible one by Andrew Oswald confirms the psychological gains of divorcing your partner. Other studies provide contradictory results and claim that divorce makes people unhappy. Either way, putting an exact figure is not possible because of the complex subject.
Again, a yes and no question. The answer depends on several factors; what was the nature of your marriage, what kind of an individual are you, and so on. But leaving a toxic/abusive/incompatible marriage is always better in the long-run. Divorce offers many new ways of embracing life and starting over, and countless divorcees rediscover themselves.
Each relationship has it’s highs and lows; happiness cannot be a constant in any marriage. Many people who stick to it report being happy a few years later. But if the marriage is not a source of support, fulfillment and comfort, then divorce might be the healthier alternative. In the case of a ‘bad’ marriage (abusive/toxic), divorce is always the wiser choice.