Ashen memories and the post divorce trauma

Published: November 29, 2012

I realise that legally, in a divorce settlement, anyone can push you into a corner, shame you unprovoked at anytime and there is not much that can be done about it. DESIGN: URSHELA RIAZ/ZAINAB LOTIA

It was devastating and something I never believed would ever happen to me in my life. Yet, it occurred and left me in a paradigm of depression and frustration. Yes, I am someone who had to go through the painful moments of the divorce process. Since the process involved my 1.5-year-old child as well, it was all the more difficult an ordeal to handle. That was the time I lost all interest in life. I stopped going to work, barred myself from socialising and spent most of the time locked up in my room at home.

In Pakistan, divorce is a process that generally involves going to courts and pulling the elderly in the middle to solve the fiasco. However, it is strange that anyone can hurl any accusation at you and it will just become a part of the court proceeding, whether they prove it or not. I am no legal expert myself, but having attended five court hearings I realise that legally, in a divorce settlement, anyone can push you into a corner, shame you unprovoked at anytime and there is not much that can be done about it.

This write-up isn’t about my ordeal but I did give my own example of how things happen in such circumstances. Although it was a hard time to deal with and it still is; life doesn’t stop there. It moves on and so should everyone who has ever gone through this.

I went through it and there will be many others who have faced something similar or worse in their lives. This blog is just my own personal experience of dealing with the aftermath of a divorce.

Accepting the pain

Accept the pain. Accept the fact that this happened and can’t be reversed. Analyse what exactly went wrong. Of course, everyone wants to keep themselves as ‘pure’ as possible, but generally there are issues from both sides that lead to such a situation. Think over it and ponder over how your compromise could have resulted in a different scenario altogether.

A new start

In Pakistan, generally, a divorce is permanent and there are very few exceptions where different approaches are made for post-divorce reconciliation. There is no point in lurking in the same dark alleys of ashen memories. Just think about a new start and how you are going to manage it. What were your faults and shortcomings that you should overcome when looking to start a new relation. Once you understand that a divorce happens due to the shortcomings from both ends, you’ll be more comfortable in looking at the life ahead with some control over your own shortcomings.


In case you stopped seeing friends, it is time to connect with them again. But socialise without whining about how bad your marriage was or the likes. Just talk to people, explore new opportunities and try to leave your past behind. It is also a good idea to make new friends in the process.

Stop reacting

Yes, I also used to get angry and frustrated when I came to know of the defamatory jingles being sung by my ex-relatives. But seriously, it doesn’t matter at all. In cases like these, you should simply ignore such stuff and smile at whoever brings it to your attention. A divorce is a very painful process and of course your ex and his or her relatives do not have anything good to say about you, just as you may not. If you stay quiet and normal today, it is possible that one day people will stop believing the ones maligning you or your character. Remember that your anger will cause someone to get happy. So why afford merriment to anyone  at the cost of your own emotions?

Keep contact with your kids

Of course, if your divorce happened and you also had kids, it is essential that you maintain contact with them. Always meet them whenever you are allowed and do not badmouth your ex in front of your children. Just have a great time with them when you have the chance. Do not damage your feelings by falling back into the past or narrating the pain you endured to your children. But do let them know that you miss them.

These are some of the steps I took to get back to a normal life. I understand that these are very generic points and you already have the choice to make your own healing plan. Just remember that maybe he or she didn’t deserve you; there is a silver lining behind every dark cloud- and it’s always there, so don’t lose hope.

This was your opportunity to reflect back on your mistakes, improve your life and look forward to having a happier relationship with a more compatible partner.

Ali Waqas

Ali Waqas

A technology enthusiast and a blogger by profession, Ali likes to observe human behaviour. He tweets as @bonbondude

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Working Woman

    Nice. Good to see any broken heart returning to life. Recommend

  • Bilal

    sure it is painful, lets just move on now life doesnt end after divorce my friend. best of luck.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I thought that was nicely written. Level headed and done without display of much emotion, something that I suppose just happens at times like this. Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Very true approach towards life. Life is just like an exam if you fail one paper doesn’t mean that you can not resit again. So learn from your mistakes but never regret in your life. Keep trying.
    One more thing i really like is what you said about the kids. Kids should never be neglected. Recommend

  • 123

    I myself went through a divorce a couple of yrs ago and can very safely say that no one except for someone who has been through the ordeal can relate to the traumatic experience and scars and fears it leaves behind – some to fizzle out and some that last a life time.Recommend

  • Lala

    Past z history , tommoro z mystery it z easy to say bt these breakups r pain ful . I have observed few friends who had passed through this trauma. Hope every thng will b fine at both side soon.Recommend

  • ell Enn (@Ell_Enn)

    Nicely put. And neutral. This is a success statement of the recovery process from the traumatic ordeal.

    One thing that I would like to add to this list of yours is to not let this relationship failure describe the rest of one’s life. Divorce is a chapter of life, life is not a chapter of a divorce. Recommend

  • Ali Tipu

    All through the years of my life since childhood, I had always been traumatized, ridiculed and often taunted by those even close to, in friends or extended family in one way or the other that my mom took divorce from my father. Back in those days (in 80’s) , it was no less than a sin to do that, specially by a woman. Yet my mom did that,not only survived alone with all those taunts and stuffs but also brought up a child in a way people can only dream about. She made me the focus of her life, gave me the best of the education, but more importantly taught me about right and wrong. Yet, somewhere in my heart, I always had shame, guilt and shyness. I always thought more about the people and what they care and say than about myself and my mother. And when I myself got married, the first thing I told to my wife was ” I hate this (divorce) so much that we wont ever bring that in our discussion”. I was sincere, honest and dedicated to my and her feelings but I was afraid that something might still go wrong. Fear that had accumulated over a period of time. Fear of losing people, and certainly your loved one. Fear of shame and taunts. And guess what, my worst fears came true. She divorced me after just 10 months citing that I don’t express a lot and care much about her. One can only imagine what had happened to me. Like you, i wasn’t expecting it, I wasn’t accepting it. I stopped everything I was doing. Didn’t go to my job for weeks, didn’t eat anything for weeks and didn’t even go out of my room for weeks. The worst part of it, was those rumors, those whispers I had always been listening since my childhood, first for my mother and than for me. But since the worst was over, my fear diminished. In the darkness of my room, I sat and talked to myself. What went wrong? And there came the answer that I cared too much about the people. That I was afraid of what they will think, what they will say. I got liberated of my fear. Months later, as time healed what happened to me, just by pure accident in truly a dramatic way, I found someone who truly valued me for what I am, for what I have achieved in life and what I am made up of, my mother. This time, I didn’t let her go, I didn’t care about anyone, not to any of those whispers, not to any eyebrows and….. my life changed……It fees amazing to be so carefree, to stop worrying about what other s have to say and more importantly to free from your fear. :)Recommend

  • lola

    sad to see such an important issue dealt with in such a superficial way.Writer relies on cliches and things that everyone knows. Editors please be more discerning. Your blogs are getting worse everydayRecommend

  • geeta

    defamatory jingles?dark alley of ashen memorie?pulling the elderly in to solve the fiasco?you OR your character? d
    1. This blog seems to be a translation. word choice and sentence structure like Urdu
    2. Blogger has Terrible advice for divorcees:
    3. He says not to discuss your feelings with friends by ‘whining’. This is repression. Divorce is traumatic and families and friends should offer support.
    4. He advises divorcees to look inwards to find faults in themselves. This can result in seriously negative selfesteem issues, blaming oneself for the failure of the marriage and an inability to move on. While one must learn and grow you should not ‘ponder’ how your compromises could he scenario. This is psychologically unhealthy behavio
    5. I’m no legal expert either but pretty sure a divorce settlement (sum of money or goods or child support) is different from getting a divorce. You cant use them interchanably.

    I am sorry if it seems like I am nitpicking but I do feel that anyone who is blogging needs to be responsible.

  • Insaan

    Why not make divorce a celebration? Send invitations to relatives and friends inviting them for a party to celebrate divorce….we have decided to divorce, please join us for a dinner and dance party on Nov 30, 2012 at 8 PM in Ramada Inn.Recommend

  • Rahim ALi

    @ ali Tipu – Bro salute you !!!
    i m in a relationship since last 7 years and now we are engage since 2 years as we live togther (overseas) sometimes i feel we might get divroce and sometime i feel she is the best – i dont know what to do .. only thing piss me off when she talk negative about my family and at the end of the coversation she tell me i am expressing my feeling as i have no one to tell all this … as we live abroad i dont know what to do .. i think she is been clean heart thats why she tell me everything on th otherhand i can listen negative things about my family and get feeling for the sepration dont know what to do :(Recommend

  • gp65

    Shit happens. It is how you deal with it that shows your character. Glad to know you are dealing with this maturely. One more thing – whether you decide to remarry or to stay single – do it because that’s what you want to do not because that is what you are expected to do. Good luck.Recommend

  • The Only Normal Person Here.

    Good write up. Esp not to bad mouth about your ex part.Recommend

  • Anon

    I am glad you tackled this topic in a mature way without indulging into private details of what went wrong or thrashing your wife here. Thank God there was no pettiness here, but yes divorce and breakups are a painful process. People should take their time to heal, and even if its their fault that things messed up they should eventually forgive themselves and move on by making sure they dont repeat past mistakes.
    Also thrash talking the past or exes however justified makes you look little and petty.Recommend

  • umar

    i am glad something is written about men about post divorce feelings!
    I appreciate and thankful to you that you shared your true feelings and how you went through this, It help many of us who are going through similar time (like me-:/)Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Rahim ALi: “only thing ticks me off when she talk negative about my family and at the end of the conversation she tell me i am expressing my feeling as i have no one to tell all this”

    Ask her to fix hours, like Mon, Wed, 6-8 PM to talk negatively about your family. She will have to say something positive about the family or say some thing negative about her own family also. Complement her for doing a good job. Encourage her to be more negative.

    When people say negative things about others, they are trying to say “I am better”

    You feel pissed off because you ACCEPT her negative view of your family.Recommend

  • Ms. Ras

    Retrospection could not be helpful. You do not have to think that if you had compromised how different it would have been,

    In most cases one partner crosses the limit and so divorce becomes inevitable. In some cases both go overboard and if that is the case then divorce should not be such a traumatic experience for either. Mostly the true victim finds it more difficult to adjust back and goes in to depressive cycles. For instance in case of Ali Tipu I think his first wife left him for stupid and unreal reason. There are scores of men outthere who are not so expressive but that should not be the reason for seeking divorce.
    But I think it mostly works in your favour in the long run. It could be a blessing in disguise. If you think you are a victim and that actually is the case then you should stay calm as Allah SWT shall definitely send you some one better. Man or woman who is done unjust with should keep in mind that there is a supreme power out there and every one has to be unanswerable for their action eventually.

    Being patient and having faith in Allah is the key to this trauma besides leaving the past behind and starting afresh. Recommend

  • Sahar

    A wonderful article about a topic that must have been very difficult to write about. I admire your strength and positive spirit throughout. Remember that the healthiest form of revenge is self-improvement :) Recommend