February 2

Divorce Success Story


Leaving my husband after 26 years of marriage was really hard. I had married young, only 21, but I’d done it for life, for better or worse. Now, though, I felt I had no choice. As the years had gone by, he’d treated me less and less kindly, had become an angry alcoholic who picked fight after fight with me, and it had reached the point where I dreaded going home. It was a sad day when I came to realise that laughing and smiling was something that happened with other people, not with him. When I learned he’d been unfaithful multiple times, the latest being a seven-year affair with a woman he worked with – and he didn’t seem inclined to stop – it was like someone had opened the door and said, “You can go now.”

It was very hard at first. Even though I was in my late 40s, I was still a child in many respects. I’d never had a mortgage on my own, never taken a car for its MOT, never had to get the big spider out of the bathtub… Now I was responsible for everything. I was also now a single parent to my teenage son and there was no one to talk things over with, to decide what was the best course of action where he was concerned, because my ex-husband refused to speak to me.

But, and this is a huge but, I was free. Free of the put-downs, free of the fighting, free to find out who I really was without someone stamping on my confidence and free to be happy without being told that was a Bad Thing to want to be. Over the next few years I went on a journey of discovery and it was brilliant. 

I’d always wanted to travel, but my ex hadn’t been very interested. In fact, it was one of the things he used to taunt me with, as if travelling was somehow also a Bad Thing. I didn’t have very much money, so I needed to figure out how to go see the world on a pittance and that’s when I discovered there are all sorts of short-term jobs you can do abroad, either in exchange for room and board or even get paid. The first one I did was sign up to be a rep on school-holiday ski trips.

It was totally out of my comfort zone – I’m not even a very good skier! – but getting on a coach filled with school kids and their teachers for that long haul to the French Alps was taking my first steps towards releasing the me that had been waiting in the wings my whole adult life. And? I totally loved being somewhere new, doing something completely different and meeting new people. Everything was a departure from what I was used to doing, which was sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen and going home to an angry, combative, drunk man. It was only a week, but it changed me and the course of my life. I learned a crucially important lesson: I could do whatever I wanted on my own. I didn’t need a man or even a friend with me – I was brave enough to be on my own, doing what I wanted to.

The next big step in my travels was when I went back to France with a guy I’d started seeing. To be honest, he was already driving me a bit crazy. We were very different and I could feel his presence holding me back, wanting to clip my wings and I was pulling against that. Very unfortunately, his mum was taken to hospital while we were there and he had to fly back, leaving me on my own. I could have gone back then too, but I wanted to stretch my comfort zone again. So, this time without the safety net of a job to do, I spent five days alone in France.

OK, it may not sound like a huge adventure if you’ve travelled the world on your own, but it felt exhilarating to be able to do or go wherever I wanted to, without reference to anyone else, after a lifetime of having someone else make the decisions. I found I didn’t mind sitting by myself in cafes or bars, that I relished the freedom of deciding what to do each day or just leaving somewhere when I’d had enough. Bliss!

It’s been 15 years since those early days of finding my travelling feet. I’ve become almost blasé and have to hold myself back from tsking or rolling my eyes when friends say I’m brave or that they’d be too scared to go abroad on their own. I’ve been to Egypt, the UAE, Switzerland, France (again!), the USA, Greece, Mexico, Malta and more on my own and can hardly remember what it felt like to be worried about being alone. I do still travel with friends as well, but there’s something about going somewhere on your own that heightens the experience and makes the place your own.

I’m sorry my marriage ended in divorce. It’s not what I envisaged for myself, but I’m so grateful for all the people I’ve met, the things I’ve experienced and the places I’ve gone that would have gone unknown if I hadn’t left, both home and away.

About The Author

Liz Granirer was born in New York City, and grew up there and in the lower Hudson valley. She works as a freelance journalist, writing mostly about travel, parenting and the performing arts. Behind the scenes she’s worked as a sub-editor on magazines as diverse as easyJet Traveller and Country Homes & Interiors, as well as editing magazines, including Young Performer and EL Gazette. She has a grown-up son and lives in north London.


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