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No one can predict how they will react to the stress of divorce until it happens to them.

I never thought that the time would come when my soul mate would leave me. We had survived over 26 years of marriage, the first six of which we worked during the day and attended school at night. We could not sell our first house and had to carry a mortgage while paying rent and attending school, never knowing we qualified for food stamps. We never felt poor, you see, and regarded our life as a big adventure.

We bought our second house during the early eighties when double digit mortgages were the norm, and did not finish paying back our school loans until well into our forties. I enjoyed only 5 years of financial good times before my husband got restless and left.

At 50 I was caught flat footed and completely by surprise. We had weathered so many storms to achieve our dreams. I was sure we were coasting into the third chapter of our lives together, which included plans for travel and building a lake house.

The stress of his leaving was so overwhelming that the pain felt physical. I didn’t know where to turn, and so at times I simply curled up in a ball and cried until I was spent. Everything I ate tasted like chalk, and I spent my free time exercising as if to exorcise my demons. I worked three jobs, and ran myself ragged trying to maintain the house alone and learning the ins and outs of finding a good lawyer. I was in survival mode. I lost weight, took anti-depression drugs, and got a dog so I would have a reason to come home after work.

Looking at the pain that Demi Moore is going through, I can heartily sympathize with her. Drugs and alcohol provide only temporary relieve, and sleepless nights take their toll. One must live through the pain, fear, loneliness, bewilderment, and sense of failure and betrayal – there is no way to escape it, as I am sure Demi is learning.

One can see the pain in the recent photographs of Seal and Heidi Klum. Both have that deer in the headlights look and faces devoid of expression, like people in shock. Even though they have put their best feet forward, we divorcees know how hurt they are feeling.

The stress of divorce hits all of us differently. Even when I found someone new shortly after Bob left, I would cry in his arms. Thankfully, he understood (for he was recently divorced), and simply held me. While that rebound relationship did not survive, we are still friends to this day.

When I encounter someone who is going through the raw pain of a recent separation, I make myself available to them. No fear is too trivial. No betrayal is too small to share. I simply let them talk.

Sometimes, as a few readers of this blog have commented, time does not heal all wounds. We simply learn to go on and live our lives in a different way than we intended.

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