My ex and I lived the kind of life that allowed him to go out with friends, to the bar, wherever. I was home with the kids every day, all day, every night, all night. The only time I veered away from them was for a few hours on our anniversary, when his parents would take the children and we would head to the nearest bar so he could drink himself into a coma and applaud himself for "taking me out to dinner." Other than our once-a-year fiasco, where he criticized me the entire time, I was with my kids 24/7.
So the first time my ex took my kids away from me after our separation, I closed the door behind me and slumped in a heap next to the door. Yes, it was I, not the kids, who suffered from separation anxiety. Every minute of those 30 hours was excruciating.
The moment my children returned, I rejoiced, practically smothering them with hugs and kisses. But I returned to my anxiety attacks every week when I envisioned him driving them somewhere in a drunken stupor and killing all of them.
I watched the clock. I slept fitfully. I prayed.
As time passed I developed coping skills for being away from them. During the marriage, everything I did was for him or for them. Everything I liked was seen through his eyes. I didn't even know what I liked anymore, because my filter was masked with his thoughts, his opinions, and his beliefs.
It was refreshing to learn about myself. I had forgotten who I was. I studied, I spent time with family and friends, and I wrote. Little by little, the anxiety lessened until the day I actually made plans to have fun. It was probably the first time after the marriage that I thought I could.
Bottom line: whether it's the kids or you, time will lessen the impact of the separation. Eventually kids grow up and leave you all over again.