It was heartbreaking and interesting to read through the responses to your post. Many years after our divorce, oddly enough, I still pose that question to myself -- do I still love my ex-husband? In one sense, it matters not at all. He is remarried and for all intents and purposes, he has never given me any kind of sign over the last many years that he has any "use" for me in any way. A part of me will always have to love him, I guess, because he is a part of the six children we had together. I see him in every one of them -- not only their looks, but their attitudes and personalities. One of the posters mentioned that it is better for children not to see a parent walked all over -- perhaps that is advice I should have heeded about 15-20 years ago. I think abstractly (because, just like the divorce, I know only too well that it is not possible to change anyone other than yourself) what a disservice I did to myself and my children in staying in a relationship where I didn't feel love and there was no real example (at least that I can remember anymore) of a husband treating his wife with love, concern or respect. And, don't get me wrong -- it wasn't that he wasn't a "good" father -- he worked hard, held many of the same ideas and ideals that I did -- but not on the marriage front, as it turned out.
Knowing how to turn off the "love" switch is pretty hard. I never learned how to do it, but I agree with everyone else that the sooner you can accomplish it and as "selfish" as it seems to many of us, can turn on the self-love switch, the easier your life will become. I guess now that I think of it -- there is no other choice at this point in the road. I think one of the more difficult aspects for mothers is that most of us spent out lives trying to figure out to help others, guide others, fix things in one way or another, basically -- manage.
When divorce hits and it is lopsided (which it seems by the posts it often is), the one left looking a bit stunned takes a long time to recover. I remember reading somewhere that the person who wants the divorce has had perhaps years to fully develop his/her plan. The other, let's say, unsuspecting party, is hit with the idea and has no time for reflection or thought. It's thrust in your face and you have to deal with it -- and keep on dealing with all the day-to-day things that happen as though nothing gigantic is happening to your world.
Some people are more fortunate than others. I can only imagine the difference if my mother or father were alive, if I had a sibling who offered me support. I had none of that and although my friends were very good to me and listened to me, I had little practical assistance (lots of advice from people who didn't have a clue generally speaking)and needed financial assistance from some of my own kids for awhile because of the mess it all created.
An acquaintance of mine once mentioned to me that through her divorce, even though to me it sounded like her parents were absolutely wonderful (she and her three kids lived with them for quite a while until she saved enough money for a house on her own), she never felt that she had enough help.
The point was that divorce is so all-encompassing that you almost need an entire person to be your constant ally. In most cases, the spouse was that person and his/her absence is like losing a limb. I know that is not everyone's case, but it pertains to most of us who were married a long time. Again, the younger you are, I believe the higher your chances for a full recovery.
So, for all of those going through the first throes -- prayers and good wishes. Hang in there, stay focused and accept help whenever it is offered. This board can serve as a sounding board when you feel you have exhausted the patience and time constraints of your family and friends. There is a lot of knowledge and a lot of history with everyone who has found this board. Hopefully, it will serve as a comfort to know that you are not alone and that others have made it through (and many of us thought we couldn't!) and so will you.
Take care, bacall