What is a tsunami divorce? Well, just ask lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com creator Lisa Arends. She is the author of a rather popular blog that I found in the early days after my wave hit. I didn’t know what was happening to me, or how to phrase why it was that I was so deeply traumatized by the events surrounding the breakup itself. Her description of a what a ‘Tsunami Divorce’ is absolutely nailed it.
To paraphrase, with very little or no warning at all, the wave comes crashing in on your life when you find out the truth. Those facing unexpected abandonment are often blissfully unaware of the approaching storm because of the lack of prerequisite marital strife that would normally sound an alarm. It’s a hair’s width away from your spouse walking out to get a carton of milk and never coming back, the distinction being that you get to watch their face as they flee, bag in hand, giving you unending footage for the highlight reel that will play endlessly for years to come.
Some call that moment ‘D-Day’. I call mine ‘the night of 1,000 horrors’. And because you didn’t see it coming, and because it comes from someone you trusted completely, it wreaks havoc on your heart and psyche in the most traumatizing ways possible.
The destruction is total.
And while you’re on the floor unable to breathe or walk or make sense of what’s happening, the wave retreats back into the sea. No accountability. No help to pick up the pieces of your vintage Van Morrison record collection that’s now floating down the hallway. Just gone.
The one person in your life you’d turn to in your worst moment on earth is the one who’s caused it, and they’re nowhere to be found.
They’re already well out past the breakers, headed off to some romantic new beginning while you gasp for air and claw your way out of the wreckage in an attempt to orient yourself to the horizon. Your home is splintered into jagged, nonsensical pieces. Your memories are stained and broken, irretrievable. Your life is destroyed…and you never even saw it coming.
My wave hit, destroyed everything as far as the eye could see, and was gone in just 20 hours. I’d forced my husband of 14 years to reveal something I was NOT prepared to hear. He’d been having an affair for 5 months. He was moving 2,300 miles away, and his bags were already packed. He was not going to raise our children with me. Our young family was being torn apart. We were on our own.
In a split second, I went from valued member of my own family to a single mom of a one and a two year old. My love was actually my enemy. The joy was gone from my life in the blink of an eye. I stood with my babies, surveying the wreckage and wondering how I could even take a step without my knees failing me. Shaking and confused, traumatized and crying, one singular thought replayed in my head over and over again. ‘What in the hell just happened?!’
That is a tsunami divorce.