DEAR AMY: I have been divorced for two years now. I said that I would never get married again, and I still feel that way today. But I miss my ex-husband. I think we are better as friends. I felt like I was wearing the pants and the skirt in the relationship and during our marriage. I don’t know how to move on, or if I should move on. I wonder if I should continue to be friends with my ex-husband. I have to constantly pull information out of him. He doesn’t share his feelings until I make mention of my own. I have isolated myself from basically everyone because they don’t understand why I am depressed about my divorce. What should I do? Should I move on?
DEAR LONELY: Life is nothing but a series of opportunities to move toward, move through and move on. Yes, you should move on.
One advantage of being divorced is the rock-solid fact that unless there are children involved, you really don’t need to concern yourself with your ex’s feelings.
It is not necessary to leave the relationship with your ex, but it IS necessary to emotionally separate from him. You don’t seem to have done so.
He isn’t sharing information with you because he has emotionally separated from you. He seems to have moved on.
According to you, you carried the entire burden of your marriage. Whether or not this is strictly true, this is your perception. And now you continue to carry the burden of your divorce.
The best way to heal from the trauma of divorce is to feel your authentic feelings, and then find ways to release them. If you are stuck in this tough in-between space, you’ll need help and support from a counselor, spiritual practice or creative outlet or by nurturing relationships with people who will hold onto you through this. Don’t expect others to understand this, but ask them to be there for you while you learn to cope with your new reality. Please, make an effort not to isolate yourself, and be screened for depression.
The person you should not be turning to for this help and healing is your ex. Your contact with him keeps you stuck in place.
Divorce is one of the most challenging life events to recover from. I hope you will focus on your personal healing, but don’t look for your ex to provide it.
DEAR AMY: I am 13 years younger than my husband, which unfortunately means I am only six years older than his oldest child. I didn’t help raise any of his four children, while my husband helped me to raise my young son after we got married. I have a great relationship with all of the children, their spouses, and nine grandchildren. When I was a child, my mother made me write thank-you notes. I hated it. I am now a dedicated note writer and I understand why it is important to acknowledge a gift. I want to know the recipient received the gift. My grandchildren do not send thank-you notes. I would take a text of thanks or a phone call. If my stepmom (who did not raise me) told me my children should write thank-you notes, I would be upset, if not angry. I don’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest, but I also want my grandchildren to know the courtesy of thank-you notes. Should I ask my husband to say something?
DEAR GRANDMA: If you have a great relationship with all of your husband’s kids, then you should enlist them to help you to feel acknowledged.
You cannot insist that these parents force their children to put pen to paper and write thank-you notes, because this is basically trying to force them to be different parents than they are. Presumably you are training the child you raised to be gracious in this way.
You can ask the parents, “Hey, could you do me a favor and have your child shoot me a quick text or a little video when they receive something from me — that way I’ll know that it landed in their hands.” Also mention this to the children when you’re in touch with them.
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).