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Don’t get divorced during a pandemic, or do…

I wouldn’t say there is ever a perfect time for a divorce… during a pandemic is definitely a difficult time to get a divorce. But for me… I think it was the best time for things to happen.

Let me explain.

In early 2020, before Covid was really even a thing in the U.S. things in my marriage had gone from shaky to downright scary. My ex had been involuntarily hospitalized the year before for threatening suicide and violent behavior. I was still walking on eggshells trying to get through each day without setting off violence or send him into a depressive state.

Things were not good. I was debating leaving. I was so tired of feeling tired, scared, and sad, unworthy, unappreciated, and unloveable.

I remember the day I finally asked for a separation. I remember the acts of violence that drove me there. And the violence that followed.

It was terrifying.

My kids and I were displaced from my home for several days as I went to court to get a Civil Protection Order against my ex-husband. The police officer said it didn’t matter what he threw at me, that he punched new holes in the walls, the threats he made, how he was clearly in need of a mental health assessment …that it was a civil matter.

I was terrified.

It was at the hearing for the CPO that I realized I needed to file for divorce. My friend and attorney sat next to me and held my hand as the realization slid down my spine. Just like my ex refused to be hospitalized a second time, there was no way he’d let me do this again. I had to get out, for me and for the four children I love and am responsible for.

Covid hit Idaho before my final CPO hearing and I was able to attend that hearing virtually, in the safety of my home with my stepson’s mom holding my hand.

The outside world was pandemonium. Folks carting off food and toilet paper like it was the end of days. Work had shifted to remote and the kids were sent home early for spring break. I struggled to find Tylenol for my kids and had a teething baby who kept me up all night.

Aside from that, I had two little girls who had seen their father’s violent outburst and I could not be certain when and how they’d start seeing him again in a safe way.

In lockdown, I was able to draw in and hold my babies tight. We only broke quarantine to see my stepson and his mom’s household. No one else, so no one really knew what was going on.

In lockdown, I was able to slow everything down. We only did the things we wanted to or needed to to get by. Nothing else that required my energy or didn’t replenish my energy mattered, and that became okay.

In lockdown, I was able to find myself. We took to the mountains, hiking and camping to get out of the house. Nothing prepared me to realize how much I missed that side of myself.

In lock down, I tried new things… things I had always wanted. We totally got a covid puppy and I dyed my hair pink and watched shows I NEVER thought I’d watch in a million years. Not every experience was worth it or smart but we had fun with it as much as we could.

In lock down, I was able to reclaim myself and my safety. We were able to create an atmosphere of care and happiness. Not every minute was great, but there was joy and peace again inside our home.

It wasn’t until halfway through lockdown, well into my divorce that I started to realize how lucky we were to have everything happen the way that it did. I work in HR for my day job and the domestic violence that was occurring in lockdown shook me. I realized that if events had gone even slightly differently, we could have gotten very hurt…or worse.

My actual divorce was so much easier during covid because all our appearances, all the depositions were held via zoom. I was able to be home and break down after each appearance. I could keep myself muted and watch my own face on the screen to keep the tears at bay.

The one thing I didn’t have to worry about was if my ex and I were going to be on the same page about being cautious with Covid. At first he did not agree with me doing virtual school with the girls, but I think he came around on that one when we were able to stay healthy at home. We always agreed whenever there had been an exposure to put the health of the kids (and our more vulnerable loved ones) above visits—something I know other families struggled with.

The hardest part of a CovidLand divorce was how everything took forever and a day to happen. It seemed like hearing dates were hard to come by so our final court dates get moved back. When we did our home study, it seemed additionally terrifying, allowing not only a stranger in my home… but was she vaccinated/sick/carrying?

In the end, our final court date was pushed back three times for various reasons (and honestly Covid was only really one of those reasons). It took over a year to finalize—custody and splitting assets.

In that time, I met someone. Granted I met him thinking I’d be divorced the next month. I moved. I home-schooled two girls (kindergarten and third grade). I raised two puppies out of puppyhood and watched my baby boy turn one. I drove forward with my career in HR communications. I did all I could to stay in touch with my 14-year-old stepson who was suddenly no longer in my home.

I wouldn’t say that my divorce was better or worse because of Covid. Having no other way to know how my divorce could have gone, I’m rather okay with it all. What I do know is that if I hadn’t filed for divorce when I did… Covid could have been a lot worse for me, as I know it was for a lot of other folks.

And for that. I am grateful for the choices I made when I made them.

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