What did you lose in your divorce?


In preparation for this podcast episode, I asked you to share what you lost in divorce. The responses were full of raw emotion, humor that comes only with time and grace, regret, grief – and also, amazingly, community. Even if we don't relate to the details, even if we are not still coping with the loss of something irreplaceable, like a decade of our lives or a family heirloom, we can stand in that feeling and moment with each other. And even when it is just an annoyance, a pissy little thing we need right this moment, we can experience that together, too. Here's what you logged as missing in the gulf of your own divorce.

My mind.

Lost my cats, I got the dog.

The condo we bought together.

I walked away with almost nothing. Mainly because I felt guilty. I regret every day not fighting for more as he lives in a basically rent free house and I am drowning financially.

Our house. He never paid child support, and though I tried to save it, foreclosure. He ran up my cellphone bill and I can never use T-mobile again. So many weekends with the kids. (He took them from me and left them at his place while he dated, worked, etc.)

I am making a photo album and I forgot a lot of things until I see them in old pictures-- some of my old wooden baby toys that were given to my son, a favorite pair of boots, my mom's 1983 Journey concert t-shirt, kitchen appliances that were too big for me to store when I moved out (bye-bye ice cream maker, fondue pot, and deep fryer!). Also, my cats. I completely buried my feelings about that and have never allowed them to exist since. And, the kitchen restoration with fancy appliances that I worked on for more than a year!

My entire CD collection. He left behind a bunch of his own crap, but took every CD he could find in the apartment.

My 30's.

My 20's! Also all the furniture and art and stuff that once mattered but I can't even remember now.

Ditto on "20's." It's all good now, but damn.

I managed to salvage the second half of my twenties. They were as priceless as they were reckless 🙂

My late teens, 20s, 30s and some of my 40s. Some of my pride and confidence in myself.

Oh where to start, 20 years of my life, then 2012 til March 2017 in litigation ... our home, which after billing me for years he now lives in with his new wife, the one my children have never met, a crazy amount of money in exchange for my sanity ... and my writing .. his lawyer shut me down. We will relaunch the site in Jan '18 for the writings of old, sharing the heart and stories once more, across the globe. Divorce is not for the weak.

Almost everything. Photos from my childhood. My mother's sewing machine. Mementos from when I was a baby, which were things I would have liked to show my daughter one day. Articles of clothing that were special to me. A painting of a lighthouse given to me by coworkers when I left a beloved job.All my daughter's baby clothes. The books I used to read her.  The only things that upset me, which upset me whenever I think about them, are the photos of my childhood. Those are irreplaceable. The rest are objects - they have value and they hold memories, but I can live without them. For better or worse, I think losing so much stuff has really taught me about non-attachment. Almost nothing holds emotional value for me anymore. Memories are emotions now. Things are not.  If my house were on fire and I had time to grab a few things, I wouldn't grab anything. Seeing these words all typed out makes me sad. But it's not a sad thing, really. Well, maybe a little bit.

My smooth forehead?

My self esteem/ self worth.

I lost nieces and nephews and a woman who was the closest thing I had to a "sister."

My grandmother's vintage 40's & 50's clothing. Asshole threw it all out (including my 'modern' clothes) and replaced my entire wardrobe with turtlenecks and long sleeves and below-the-knee dresses from Talbots. I was 23. I hate him all over again now.

I got nearly everything, he was still feeling guilty when he left.  But gave up my blog after legal battle after legal battle. 

My blog. I gave up my blog to focus on higher earning potential/financial stability. We didn't do "support" of any kind, which was both of our choices. It was a HUGE deal - giving up my whole livelihood and identity - but I ended up in the best working situation ever. I also just found out, last night, that, in the divorce, I lost my small strainer used for rinsing rice... my son called me from my house like, "YOU DON'T HAVE A MESH STRAINER?" Oh yeah. The ex has that.

Materialistic stuff I believe my wedding band and another ring went as they mysteriously came up missing after the move out.

A book - “Man the Manipulator” that my mentor gave me, including notes that we wrote in it.

The silver my parents bought us. No idea why the fuck I let that go.

My father's silver monogrammed mug, some classic literature, my credit score. Oh and emotionally, I lost my self-esteem, took a few years to get it back.

My husband and his ex-wife split a sectional couch. So he had half a couch.

Tools and a work bench my dad had when I was growing up. The kind they don't make anymore. Also, some furniture and a few other things I just don't remember anymore. It got to the point I stopped asking if he had it and just let it go. People who do stuff like that are intent on hurting you. You have to rise above it especially when it is hard.

Not married, but this vindictive jackass knew what meant the most of me: my photo albums of childhood pictures. He pitched them. I have no pictures of me as a child with my dad and he knew that it would kill me. It almost did. Every time I read a memoir and see childhood pictures, I think of how I'd never have any.

Photo albums. All of them. 😞

I gave him all the ornaments because I loathe Christmas and didn't mind starting my own collection.


All my Christmas decorations. :(

Balinese day bed. A snapping turtle.

My ex MIL had a bronze cast made of my firstborn's hand when he was 2 weeks old. She and I did it together and she gave it to her son for his first Father's Day. He never really ever did anything with it, I had it on my nightstand until we divorced. He took it with him, totally out of spite. I miss it so much.

As a Chicago divorce and family law attorney who has been divorced myself, I truly understand the pain in every single one of these posts. And the hope. And the recovery. Thank you to everyone who is sharing slivers of their hearts here. Here is a sliver of mine. I lost two college best friends of over 16 years at that point who decided during my divorce that we "no longer had anything in common" and that they "did not approve of my lifestyle" (WTF-ever that means). I lost feminist pride when, after quite possibly screwing half the planet (I'll never know because even he lost count of the number of other women), I helped him pack. I lost my emotional compass, because after being with him since age 19 and for what was then all of my adult life, I had no idea how not to choose what I now call "same guy, different guy" (so I skinned my knees a few more times until my therapist and I pulled myself together and I finally figured it out). But here is what I have gained. I only half jokingly say that I got custody of my Best Gay in the divorce, who has been one of my innermost circle for over 20 years. I left college teaching, went to law school, and became a divorce and family law attorney. I got married again--because I knew I was good at being married, but I just didn't have a true partner who was good at being married to me--and every single day my right husband makes my practice husband look exactly like who, in hindsight, he was supposed to be: the wrong husband. So, for me, the world of what was made possible precisely because of the hell I went through during my divorce means that I would do it all over again, even if I knew then exactly what was going to happen, just so I could be right here, right now. For all of you fellow posters here, I wish you the lives after your divorces that you so richly deserve, because silver linings really are everywhere if we are willing to look for them.

Not a divorce, but a complicated breakup - my pictures from Europe and Central American vacations from two previous relationships - almost as if some of my life events evaporated after ending a toxic, controlling relationship.

Weird thing I know he has squirreled away was my address book. It came up missing as I was packing to move out--I've had that thing EASILY since I was 25-- it has a whole host of addresses of former colleagues, old college friends, old friends parents addresses. Just the weirdest thing to keep from me-- as none of these people are anyone to him and any addresses he truly needs, he can get from his mom (the annual updated xmas list of all the extended family on his side). I'm still ticked about that item.

Oh dear. My poetry books. My odd collectibles. But I have the reverse. I have his college ring. I’ve called and emailed to no avail. What to do?????

I lost personal items, photos, furnishings that could be replaced but the most precious thing I almost lost was my faith in love and my marital values. As cliche as it may sound, I didn’t want to love because of pain, disappointment and then resentment. Once I realized it wasn’t love that did me in, I began to grow and understand that the changes were not of my doing. Needless to say, I learned that I never stopped loving and marriage was still in my cards. Truth be told, I also learned that change can be more rewarding than current circumstances.

I wanted out so badly, I only cared if I left with my clothes and personal photos of my family. Anything was replaceable.

The DSL camera. I had sent him to get one I'd researched and was going to be good for food photography and good enough to take pictures of the kids. He came home with one that was not what I wanted and was hard to use. He refused to return it so this thing that was supposed to be a new creative outlet for me was hampered. And then he took it with him, though he never uses it. It's a dumb thing to want since I never wanted it in the first place. Unfinished business!

Nothing comes to mind specifically...I was very thorough in packing. However, he bought the house we lived in for 18 years, including my beautiful perennial gardens. It kills me any time I have to go over there and I see what's become of my old gardens. I want to rescue some of my plants, others are completely dead and gone. So stupid for him to let it go because it added so much curb appeal, and now the place looks like a dump, honestly... In just 1.5 years. 😕 The outside now looks like the how the hidden inside had looked for years... So totally symbolic of our marriage.

Well my ex is a recovering opiate addict so I’ve lost a lot by way of being lost, left somewhere or even pawned. Big ones that come to mind we’re my engagement and wedding rings, my KitchenAide mixer, and when he moved out he took a chair & ottoman that went with our living room set, a mattress & box spring, and a pottery barn comforter set. He went to rehab about 6 weeks later leaving everything there and the landlord got rid of it all.

I lost a dining room table a man who loved me (hopelessly, he was a friend who worked in our garden) bought for me, and my ex refinished. The two of them worked on it together and it was truly my dream dining room table, huge and farmhousey and beautiful. I have nowhere to put it now but I dream one day of having the huge kitchen and dining room I want and somehow reclaiming that amazing table.

 Pictures, clothes, furniture, shoes, favorite pillow.

My ex is also holding my kids birth certificates and passports hostage. Drives me crazy, he also refused to give me the stockings that MY mom made for them and then lied about it for over 2 weeks until I saw them with my own eyes when my daughter FaceTimed me last year while at his house. My mom made new ones but it was just a pretty shitty thing to do if you ask me.

I had to sell all my family's heirlooms to pay rent ... it was the most painful thing I had to do .... but I kept my dignity, my faith and the love of my girls.

It’s funny, I hadn’t really thought of it too much before I read your post. I left behind a lot, my Oma’s china, my daughter’s baby mementoes, etc. but what I left with (my dignity, strength, and our lives) were my focus.

This post keeps tugging (ripping?) at my heartstrings as a child of divorce. Sending you love.

I'm not even sure what I've lost yet. It's still early. But I do think I've gained my self, so there's that. Sending love to everyone here.