Divorcing In COVID

I am sure many couples are separated, or even getting divorced as a result of the the many stresses that the coronavirus came along with.

There must also be the fair few who got divorced during the pandemic, having initiated the process before the pandemic took over the world.

I am one of those who found myself standing in a court room with a judge far away from me, wearing a mask.

I found myself looking at my now ex husband in the eyes, literally, as that was all I could see with most of his face covered by a mask as we parted ways.

We finished the legal dealings and walked out of the room.  Squirt, squirt, we doused our hands in hand sanitizer, and headed out the building.

It was weird.  I mean it would have been no matter what, but it felt extra weird.

The circumstances were so bizarre it was hard to tell what was weird from the actual divorce and what was actually just weird from the rules and regulations instituted by the government to protect us from the dreaded coronavirus.

It was weird to sit in mediation with a mask, to zoom lawyers, to sign everything digitally.

What was weirder was feeling like the whole world was on hold.

It was almost like God was saying “ok world, just pause, while Miriam and her husband get divorced and figure everything out”.

“Give them time so they can just do this right, no rushing them.”

In the beginning I was terrified.

When the news came out saying we have a worldwide pandemic on our hands and that we will likely be seeing lockdowns, economic failure, chaos and of course death.

My initial thought was “how am I supposed to do all of this?”

I’m newly divorced and beginning a new life and everything is shut down.  Work places, schools, stores.

How will I support myself, mother my children, and build a new home in these very unusual circumstances?

I had no choice but to throw myself into it.

The reality is that it didn’t take long for me to realize that the coronavirus pandemic was a huge blessing to my post-divorce healing and a huge benefit to my children’s post-divorce healing.

They had so much to digest, so much to learn and get used to.

So much to let out and get off their chest.

So much to accept.

Normally if they had been being shuffled to school and back every day, they would have had so much going on in their hearts and mind, with almost no time to talk about it.

Perhaps that distraction is a survival tool in normal times.

Now we had lots of time, I mean a hell of a lot of time.

Our days began to just roll into each other.

Projects, art, games, bikes, the park, and other activities filled the day and filled our time, creating the most opportune moments to talk, laugh and cry.

Since there were so few outside obligations, I felt calm and at ease to just let whatever came up, come up.

In the morning there was no rush, there could be a meltdown, or a burst of frustration and no one would be asked to forget it and hurry out the door.

There was time.

There was time to feel.

The fact that the whole world started ordering everything online or by phone made things even easier.

If my children were in their fathers’ home and missed me or needed something, I could, like everyone else, just order it and have it delivered.

We spent a year, able to digest the new reality of their family life as well as of the world at large.

I loved getting to be with my kids and feel present with them.

Even if I had work to do, there was no leaving to the office.

Home was the office.

I was nearby.  They knew I was nearby, in the study, “working”.

I didn’t have to leave them at all.

I think that so often, parents get divorced and kids are just meant to keep trudging through life as if everything is normal.

This was so amazing because it was very clear to all of us that life is not normal right now.  Not just for us, but for everyone.

My kids had extra time with their father while in his house.

He is a busy man, and they love spending time with him.

Even if he was working from home, he was there, to check in, feed them, talk to them, kiss them if they got hurt.

The kids realized that while they may no longer have the two of us together, they HAVE each of us.

When they were with me, they were WITH me.

When they were with him, they were WITH him.

The stillness of the pandemic, our stable and focused mental states, plus both of our devotion to co-parenting well and peacefully created a very beneficial environment to our children.

Yes- there were still plenty of challenges and yes there was a lot of unknown.

Yes- they will need time, and help processing and accepting.

The kids however knew one thing: My parents may have gotten divorced, but not from us.

There is never a “good” time to get divorced, its hard no matter when it’s done.

But if I need to be grateful for one thing during the pandemic, the time it gave us, is it.

About the Author
Miriam is a U.S.-born Israeli therapist and psychologist specializing in trauma work, who speaks to women worldwide, and gives workshops around the country on the importance of mental resilience. She is amicably divorced with five children and is the Founder of United Hatzalah's Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit that provides psychological first aid at the scenes of medical emergencies. She was the recipient of the Bonei Zion prize for young leadership in Israel in 2018. Following her divorce, she left the Ultra-Orthodox community of Jerusalem and is now living in Tel Aviv with her girlfriend, Nikki.
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