As a stay at home mom of three young children for almost ten years, I felt like I was living in the movie “Groundhog Day”. Every. Single. Day. I would have described myself as a “Mommy Zombie” who was on autopilot from dawn to dusk.
Here was my daily routine:
- Wake up, drink coffee. Get everyone up and ready for the day. Make breakfast. Pack Lunch. Get going to school or camp drop off.
- Walk Dog. Clean up the house. Work for a few hours at the yoga studio. Go to grocery store. Plan for dinner. Shower (if I was really lucky). Pick up kids from school. Take them to activities then home again..
- Homework. Make dinner. Clean up again. Give kids a bath and put them to bed. Drink a glass of wine (or three) with my husband and mostly talk details of the day and what was coming up in the next weeks/months that we needed to plan for.
- Go to bed feeling exhausted, defeated, and empty.
While the kids were relatively stable, happy and healthy, I felt like I had almost completely lost myself in the role of mom and wife, and I felt resentful most days, like a prisoner to my life. When our marriage hit the rocks, I saw it as an opportunity to start over. I thought that if I could change my outer situation, then I could be happy and free.
But what I learned is that until we are happy and free on the inside, no amount of change on the outside is going to make a difference. We could run away to the most beautiful tropical island with the most wonderful young, adoring lover (which by the way, I tried), but our inner struggles eventually catch up with us, and our paradise will once again turn into a prison.
For me, it took a lot more than running away from my marriage to feel whole and complete. While I had more time to myself with sharing parenting time with my ex, new relationship possibilities, and a new home to live in that was a beautiful and peaceful space, I still felt like a prisoner to my old thoughts and beliefs...I just went from one prison to another.
It took making the commitment to the personal work of letting go of my old emotional programming and focus on my life’s purpose.
I’m now a Lifestyle and Divorce Coach and people assume that I’m a proponent of divorce. I’m not. If there are two people who are willing and committed to working at the relationship, then I always encourage them to put the focus there. However, if divorce is inevitable, we can use the devastating process to learn from and grow into the next chapter. Divorce will bring us face to face with our biggest fears.
The divorce statistics continue to rise. Forty-one percent of first marriages end in divorce. Sixty percent of marriages end in divorce. Seventy-three percent of third marriages end in divorce. It’s obvious that divorce is not a solution but a symptom of our trying to change the outer situations in our search for happiness.
This level of personal growth and finding freedom can also be achieved inside a marriage, without actually running away.
What we are really searching for is the feeling of freedom from within. Here are some places to begin:
1. Focus on being your strongest, healthiest self in body which will translate to an inner strength and give you the energy to commit to, and make changes towards your best life. Create a healthy diet and loving rituals for your body like yoga, meditation, time in nature, and deep rest. Identify the sources of daily stress and create new healthy solutions.
2. Make time for your dreams each day. Focus on what you want to create in your own life, career, family, community and spend time visualizing a happy, balanced existence. Train your mind to work for you, rather than against you. Identify the negative self-talk and replace it with self-loving and empowering thoughts. Put energy towards what you DO want instead of focusing on what’s not working or what could go wrong.
3. Become your own emotional support. Instead of expecting your spouse or your children to make you feel safe, worthy and lovable, become nurturing and supportive to the hurt parts of yourself that keep you from true joy. Journal your feelings and ask for help from friends, a therapist or a Coach to help you identify, release and create new core beliefs to create a life lived from love, rather than from fear.
4. Connect with your purpose. What are your unique gifts? Why are you here? How can you serve others and feel a sense of connection to a deeper source of guidance and unconditional love? What is the passion that you can bring not only to your family but once the kids are grown, how will you share your passions with others? Take steps every day to live a life of purpose.
Through my own experiences and those of working with women in midlife transitions facing the possibility or reality of divorce, it has become clear that happiness really does start from within. And running away is not truly an option (even if it is) because wherever we go, there we are. Instead, we can focus on running towards ourselves, identifying and uncovering what makes us feel stuck, then taking small steps each day to achieve states of inner freedom that will feed and sustain us from within, whether we are married or not.