‘It will take you a year to believe you made the right decision, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t’: Elizabeth Day shares her 10 lessons from getting divorced

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Notes on Love is a new collection of essays celebrating and musing on relationships and what exactly love means to us in the modern world. Published by fine jewellery brand, Fenton, the collection of 40 essays include the likes of Pandora Sykes on parental love, Candice Brathwaite on the trials and tribulations of commitment, and Elizabeth Day’s experience of divorce. Here, in an exclusive extract from the book, Elizabeth of How To Fail fame, lists the 10 things she’s learned as a divorcee…

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fenton notes on love book 2499 fentonandco 0086 l

Ten Things You (by which I mean I) Only Know As a Divorcée by Elizabeth Day

1. You never think it will be you. When you’re walking down the aisle on your wedding day, you might feel a tiny grain of discomfort, like a pebble in your shoe, but you will dismiss this and attribute it to nerves. You do not believe your marriage will end in divorce, of course you don’t. But when it does, you won’t be wholly surprised either.

2. When you are married, you will try very hard to make it work. So hard. You will try and try and try. You will explain and when that doesn’t work, you will argue, and then you will cry because you hate to fight, and the whole process will repeat itself in endless cycles. You do not have anything to compare marriage with, so you think this is normal. It isn’t.

3. It will take you a long time to confide in your best friend (to whom you normally tell everything) about what is going on behind closed doors. When you do, you are surprised how relieved you feel that she doesn’t think less of you. That she has, in fact, been waiting for you to say something. You feel stronger because of her.

4. Telling your husband you are leaving him will be one of the scariest things you will ever do. But instinct will push you to do it, anyway. It will push you far beyond any comfort zones you ever imagined you had. At some point, you know that you have to leave or you will end up losing yourself; you will erase all your wants and needs and desires in order to stay silent and pliant and nice and not kick up a fuss. You know, deep inside, that this is not the way you want to live.

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5. When you walk out of your marital home for the last time, you will feel strangely calm. This feeling will last for several weeks, until you realise it is actually numbness and that you are in shock. You will be able to operate completely normally on the surface, but you are not sleeping much and you are slightly late for everything and your best friend says it’s like speaking to you through a perspex screen.

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fenton notes on love book 2499 fentonandco 0259 l

6. You will feel shame, even if it’s misplaced. Other people will make you feel shame, until you realise it is not their life you’re living. It is yours.

7. When the shock subsides, you are astounded by the beautiful gifted freedom of a second chance. You realise that it is never too late to change your life, and you are amazed by this, by the fact that you hadn’t learned this lesson earlier.

8. It will take you a year to believe you made the right decision, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t. He will try and persuade you that you are making a terrible mistake. His friends will write you unkind emails. You come to terms with the fact that some people do not like you because they think they know the truth, but they never will. You gain strength from the knowledge that your truth lies beyond their perception of it. You stop explaining yourself, because you don’t have to. You can just be.

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9. It will take you a long time to remove your wedding ring. That’s ok. You will have flings with men that seem more important than they are. That’s ok too. Love that is ready is waiting for you to be ready for it.

10. The people you were most worried about letting down? They will be the ones who love you the most.

Notes on Love is available now for £24.99 at fentonand.co as well as Amazon and a range of independent booksellers. All profits from the sale of Notes on Love will be donated to charities that have been suggested and agreed upon by the contributors. These include Black Minds Matter, The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), Women’s Aid, Coram Beanstalk and IKWRO.

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