Excerpted from Healing from the Break, edited by Avigail Rosenberg (Menucha Publishers, 2015)
When I got divorced eight and a half years ago, besides the overwhelming shock and grief that the marriage into which I’d put so much effort had crumbled before my eyes, I also felt a crushing sense of shame and isolation. Having been raised in a regular, normal frum home, where shalom bayis was prized and cherished, I’d always thought that divorce only happened to “other people.” Not to me. To me, divorce was never even in the picture.
When I was finally advised to leave my dysfunctional marriage, for the sake of my own sanity and that of my children, there were very few people out there who could show me the way. All my years in high school and seminary, I’d been taught about serving Hashem through building a home of Torah. How do you do that when you’re divorced? No one ever explained what to do when the home of Torah was run single-handedly. I had no teachers or mentors who were divorced, and very few friends. Lost and alone, I didn’t know where to turn.
It took several years to recover from the trauma of the breakup, to learn the survival skills I needed as a single mother, and to regain my footing on normalcy. To realize that I could be a person, albeit a divorced person. To realize that I had a place in society, that I could raise my children alone, that I could contribute to other people even if I wasn’t married.
And when those years were over, I knew I wanted to share my discoveries with others who were floundering as I had: The discovery that yes, there is life after divorce. That yes, it’s a terrible nisayon, but you’ll become stronger as you face each challenge. That yes, you can grow from this, no matter how broken and demoralized you feel right now. And yes, you can build a Torah home, even single-handedly.
The stories in these pages were written by men and women who experienced divorce firsthand: either their own, or that of their parents or children. Although every story is different, they all share a common thread — that no matter how difficult a situation may be, there is always room for hope, even after the end.
My goal with these stories is to share how other people grew from their experiences, so that you, the reader, can be encouraged, inspired, and enlightened. To that end, I included sections on remarriage and blended families, which will, be’ezras Hashem, be the next stage in many of our lives. The self-help sections at the end of the book are intended to further bolster your resources and help you move forward in the healthiest way possible. The resource list at the end of this book has been compiled so that no divorced person should feel alone.
Please note that all the personal stories in this book were written under pen names and many have had details changed to protect the identities of those involved. I have the utmost admiration for my contributors, who came forward and shared their stories, digging into the past so that they could give chizuk to others in need.
My hope is that the stories in these pages uplift you and provide you with the strength you need to heal from the past and to rebuild your future.
Yerushalayim, Adar 5775