Gray Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce

Too Close for Comfort or Optimal Mental Heath

by Amy Lawson, MBA, CDFA®

Although we are on the downside of Covid-19, our country is far from being “back to business.”

By the way, did you know that COVID-19 missed being labeled as COVID-20 by one day?  One day.  24 hours, or less.  China informed the World Health Organization of the existence of the virus on December 31, 2019.  Prior to that day, only China knew of the existence of a virus also referred to Corona; the name previously associated with a beer you can purchase at Walmart. 

Sorry, I digress.  (Here’s to you, Sophia Petrillo.)

As with many of you, for more than 2 months, I’ve lived glued to the news, daily connecting the dots to the ever-evolving big picture in an attempt to predict when life might return to some semblance of normal.

Based on the news reports, social media rants, actual conversations held 6-feet apart or by phone, and the “Wining & Cheesing” with my Sheroes over Zoom, it seems as though most folks fall into one of three camps:

  1. Continue the shut down until there’s a vaccine.
  2. Throw open the doors and get on with life.
  3. Wade back in as we do on our first trip to the beach after a long, dark, cold winter of being cooped up in the house.  We test the waters.  First, the toes.  Then up to our ankles.  Then up to our knees.  If we can make it to our waists, then we go for it!  We dunk, or dive, because trying to wade chest deep into spring-cold water is enough to make you run back to the shore. 

When you’re dealing with the unknown it’s wise to err on the side of conservatism.  Just as it is wise to be open-minded as you learn about the novel subject, or entity, or virus while questioning the correctness of what’s being taught.  Critical thinking is, well, critical.

What We Know and What We Don’t Know

In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to question the news reports (or the motives of those whom we have given power).  But we don’t live in that world.  We live in a wonderful, albeit imperfect, part of an imperfect world where half of the country refuses to question the press and the other half doesn’t believe a word that’s reported.  This isn’t a new phenomenon, mind you, it’s been this way for DECADES, but it’s been crystallized in the past few years with even the most powerful among us fully grasping and utilizing the power of social media.   

So, here we are.  Trying to figure out how to survive our daily lives within the constraints imposed upon us by those we voted to govern us, whether we agree with them (or their rules), or not.   

The goal to not overload our hospitals by trying to stop the spread of the Corona virus through social distancing was a worthy goal.  However, we live in a world were even the best of intentions come with unintended consequences.  Consequences that may arise from a lack of vision, a lack of ability, a lack of interest, or a lack of time.

The Other Covid Repercussions

In my opinion, the unintended consequence of an unprecedented, and now protracted, nationwide shut down is trauma and its devastating impact.  No jobs/no business = No money = No food or shelter = Feelings of loss of control + fear = TRAUMA. 

Maslow will tell you, when your food supply dwindles and the safety of your shelter is threatened and one of the main sources of your sense of accomplishment has been taken way or severely diminished, you’re not likely to seek out creative pursuits or have much interest in being all you can be. 

If the most emotionally healthy among us are feeling traumatized by the impact of this mandated isolation, what about the impact on the least emotionally healthy among us?  What about the impact on the least emotionally healthy among us who abuse those tied to their lives and those who suffer at their hands? 

Since COVID-19, there has been an increase in domestic violence, or intimate partner violence.  The time apart afforded by the typical workday or school day provides a buffer, albeit a temporary one.  The crack in a broken relationship only grows when there’s no way to escape the pressure that created the crack in the first place.  The crack widens with the pressure of lost wages, growing debt obligations, the trauma inflicted by the loss of control coupled with the fear of the unknown as well as the abusers need to abuse.

If you are safe from abuse, but battling exhaustion, don’t be hard on yourself.  Not even a little bit.  You are forced to spend your days trying to be more of a superwoman than you were before Covid-19.  Not only are many of us now working from home, but those with young children are expected to shoulder the burden of their children’s academic curriculum while bringing home the proverbial bacon, frying it up in a pan and not let your husband forget he’s a man?  Geez!  Who wouldn’t be exhausted? 

It’s scientifically proven that our brains can only truly focus on one thing at a time, so give yourself a break for not being able to home school your children WHILE AT THE SAME TIME putting in a full day’s work.  NO ONE CAN DO IT.  Please reach out to someone who will hear your cries without judging you weak, be it your BFF or a therapist – both of whom are most likely are well practiced in ZOOM at this point.  While I can’t pick your BFF for you, below are three sites that can help you find a therapist, each offering online profiles and the ability to search by zip code: 

Psychology Today, The Therapist Locator, and Good Therapy

If you are safe from abuse but can no longer ignore the irreparable breaks in your marriage fully illuminated by the glaring light of the close quarters of isolation, please reach out to us at hello@lawsonfinancialgroup.com.  We can help you navigate the next steps and help you create a happier, post-Covid-19 future.     

If you are suffering at the hands of an abuser, please, please, please reach out for help.  THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.  You are not “making” the abuser abuse you – that’s the abuser’s choice.  Abusers choose to abuse instead of dealing with their issues because they are fucking cowards. (I’m not a frequent F-bomb dropper, but sometimes, it’s the perfect word!) 

Abusers are as emotionally fragile as flowers.  As delicate as Jasmine.  They may be pleasing to the eye and may even smell nice, but one little touch of life and their bruised petals fall away, exposing that which they try so hard to hide from the world. 

YOU, on the other hand are not a coward; you are strong and brave, you have survived the abuse heaped upon you.  YOU, dear friend, didn’t make him this way; YOU are incidental to all of this.  HAD YOU NEVER MET HIM HE WOULD STILL BE THE SAME GUY.

YOU, my friend, matter.  Your children matter.  Your life will not always look like this.  Please, please, please, reach out for help.  Below is list of resources I found on USA Today and am sharing with you: 

If you are a victim of domestic violence… The National Domestic Violence Hotline allows you to speak confidentially with trained advocates online or by the phone, which they recommend for those who think their online activity is being monitored by their abuser (800-799-7233). They can help survivors develop a plan to achieve safety for themselves and their children.

Safe Horizon’s hotline offers crisis counseling, safety planning, and assistance finding shelters 1(800) 621-HOPE (4673). It also has a chat feature where you can reach out for help from a computer or phone confidentially. 

Survivors can also call the New York City Anti-Violence Project’s 24/7 English/Spanish hotline at 212-714-1141 and get support. If calling is not safe but email is possible, make a report at avp.org/get-help and leave safe contact information, and someone will reach out.

Suicide Lifeline: If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.

Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.

For people who identify as LGBTQ, if you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, you can also contact The Trevor Project’s, TrevorLifeline 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386.

Wishing you peace & safety & plenty of hope for your future.

Your gray girlfriend,

Signiture

About the Author

User Photo
Amy Lawson, MBA, CDFA®

As a divorced baby boomer, Amy, an independent investment advisor since 2001, formally expanded her services in 2016 to help older women navigate the daunting financial minefield of divorce after meeting numerous smart, well-educated, divorced women who lacked the funds to secure their financial futures.  She understands that for older women facing divorce, achieving an equitable divorce settlement is the first step.

Previous Article

Don’t Scoff at the ROTH

Next Article

The Health Savings Account