Divorce with Compassion: Our Journey and Commitment to Our Daughter


Just after bedtime, I laid the orange folder on the table as I took a deep breathe. I had prepared for this moment, calming myself all day. I worked up the courage to make sure my voice still made sound and said, “thanks for being willing to talk.” Earlier that day, during an argument over something small, I tried to step away and suggested that we try again later.

He said there was no reason to wait, so I told him, “I need to file for divorce.”

At this point, we are both looking back to the beginning, through the middle and trying to decide how the end of this part should look.

We are sure it’s been one hell of a ride. We have been through so much, conquered so many things, accomplished more than we can even comprehend — we have shared a great love, for nearly a quarter century.

I am certain I need space and time.

He is working hard and is sure we will return to each other, by the time we are (more) old and wrinkly.

We both agree on these things.

We will remain focused on what is best for our autistic daughter, Seeley while navigating life from here on. Team Seeley, everyday in every way.

Since our talk that evening a few weeks ago, we have begun honoring that the other parent has a crucial role in her life and he has stepped into the position with a new sense of pride. Consistency is the best thing we can offer her, so I hope that every change we plan and make is sustainable.

My husband, Billy, and I also know that this is not likely to resemble a typical separation because I need him now more than ever. If we don’t develop stronger and more stable ties to each other, we won’t be able to do the odd things that make this journey ours — like sharing the car we purchased to keep her safest on the road.

He and I hope he can quickly find a home nearby as we move through this because I have already called him once to come help when things became unsafe with our daughter. She is an incredible kid, and the challenges that define us are not all due to this life alongside special needs, but it’s worth saying we are not alone.

The statistics are alarming, which is why we both are committed to keeping it real and sharing on our page, FlanaVille.

Our truth and unraveling comes down to a lot of trauma rocking our worlds, responding to said experiences in different ways for more than 20 years, and a whole lot of time in crisis looking everywhere but to each other at the same time.

My personal goal with sharing so soon is to recognize that the hurt, the bravery and the support.

We will remind ourselves that we can hurt, love and work toward better all at the same time.

Billy and I are confident we can do “divorcee” in our own way, and I am sure we will all be stronger because of it.
We already are.
Written by Rachel Flanagan of FlanaVille
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Rachel Flanagan

Rachel Flanagan lives in Minnesota with her husband Billy and their daughter Seeley. Rachel is creative, motivated and is more than willing to learn – she is sleepless, funny and is always found with a cup of coffee. The family explores Seeley’s complexities and magic in a blog and page called FlanaVille. Rachel has been published on Finding Cooper’s Voice in the past, she writes as she speaks, real, raw and from the heart. Rachel is also a co-host on the Table for Five, No Reservations Podcast. Grab an espresso, and try to keep up with the Flanagans! You can follow us on Instagram too FlanaVILLEthree.

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