Breaking Through and Thriving in the Early Days of Separation and Divorce

Allan Johnson, PhD
22 min readJun 17, 2023
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

April 2022. As I sat amidst a colourful collage of discarded pizza boxes and empty £5 bottles of Pinot Grigio — the remnants of several weeks in which I had not really left my flat, let alone my sofa — the once vibrant colours of life had dulled and been replaced by a drab palette of melancholy and dread. The flickering glow of the television seemed to be all I had in the way of companionship as I began The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the countless time. Literally. Every night for weeks. The same film. A group of British pensioners, armed with witty one-liners and a second chance at life, build new lives in an eccentric Indian hotel that promises luxury but delivers a bit of a charming mess. In a strange way, it was as if I was watching my own life on screen, a mixture of laughter, heartache, and unexpected twists. Night after night I would immerse myself in their world, finding comfort and inspiration in their journeys, hoping to discover a spark of wisdom or a glimmer of hope amidst the chaos of my own profoundly painful love story. I think that for me the film was a reminder that even in the midst of heartbreak, life still has the power to surprise and delight. Or at least it would have if I had ever made it to the end of the film. More often than not I fell asleep in tears when Graham Dashwood, a gay high court judge, finds his first and only love again, only to die of a heart condition the next morning. There I was. Ugly crying, dribbling garlic dip down my t-shirt, and about to fall asleep on the sofa once again.

March 2022. I was Associate Dean at a midsized university near London, about to publish my third book and receive a promotion (nine months to the day after my separation began I became Dean, but that’s a story for a later chapter). For years I prided myself on being a diligent, hard-working academic. I meticulously crafted lectures, supervised student dissertations with great care, and presented my research at conferences around the world. My name appeared on numerous publications, a testament to my productivity and expertise. I had leaned into the Dark Academia trend before TikTok had even heard of it. It was a busy life, and I thrived in the intellectual challenges it offered because amidst the whirl of my professional activities, there was a pillar of support and comfort waiting…

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Allan Johnson, PhD

Integrative Coach | Mindfulness Teacher | Academic | Books with Palgrave and Bloomsbury