The Effects of Divorce at Work
Most of my friends who experienced divorce can’t remember much about what they did at work that year. One blurred walk into the office, locate coffee pot, go to desk, figure out what to do next while managing the business of becoming divorced.
My experience was different because my work colleagues were also my ex-spouse’s colleagues. We worked in the same organization, which meant something equivalent to living in a big small town. Each day as I pulled into the parking lot, I put on my badge and my game face, intentionally. Over my dead body was my work life gong to fall apart like my marriage. Realizing I controlled how I handled myself the minute I stepped through the front doors, I worked at working with passion, purpose, and the closest thing to perfection possible.
Two people in my office knew I was going through a separation and probably a divorce. I didn’t tell anyone else on purpose. And neither did the people in whom I had confided. They understood when I needed to take a call or schedule a meeting during my lunch. Otherwise, no one knew anything was different in my world. Thank you to Mrs. Kingwell, my high school theater teacher!
Although I felt numb and terrified and desperately alone at home, I knew how to do my job and do it well. It was the place that felt normal, where I knew what to expect, where there weren’t really any big surprises outside of the unknowns that come with the territory. It was the thing I could count on to be what it had always been. My one unchanging constant.
In the years since, I’ve earned more responsibility, expertise and knowledge, and added a couple of degrees to my CV. And I have the same job with the same title.
Divorce didn’t send me into a stupor at work. It made me cautious.
When I became a one-income family responsible for a mortgage, day-to-day life, and two kids, I felt the gravity of my responsibility to hand onto stability. Divorce meant I haven’t taken risks that I probably would have taken in a heartbeat if there was a second income supporting my family. It means that my kids have always come before my career. Always. It means that I turned down opportunities to make occupational moves that would have paid me more but required me to travel and be away from my kids with no back-up to care for them. It’s meant staying in situations that are often thankless, ungratifying, not challenging, and without growth opportunity. And that’s been my choice, 100 percent. And I wouldn’t do anything differently given the chance because it’s meant I could show up for my kids and be their present parent every day.
As the end of high school is fast approaching for my oldest and those days are flying by for my youngest, I balance one foot on two piers–the one looking forward to my next adventures and the other, hanging on to savor every moment because these days are are going fast.
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