You might not believe silver linings could exist in divorce. But I’m here to tell you, they’re there. And they’ll hit you when you least expect it.
If you’re blindsided by divorce, as I was, you won’t believe they could exist. You won’t even want to entertain the notion that there could be any bright sides associated with divorce.
You’ll want to fight for your marriage, and if it doesn’t work out, you will mourn it and everything it stood for. Anyone who mentions “silver linings” will annoy you. They couldn’t possibly understand just how much you love this man (or woman), how much you wanted to keep your family intact, how much you believed in marriage, and how hard you fought for yours.
But one day, that will change. Take it from someone who has lived it. Life will continue and the silver linings will suddenly become apparent without your even realizing from whence they came. I know you don’t want to believe me, and that’s fine. It will be even sweeter when you realize it on your own.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll all of a sudden change your feelings about marriage and family… or even about your ex. No, they will remain intact. I may be able to see the bright side now, but I will always wish things could have turned out differently
Yet, I see it all now through a new lens.
My top 5 silver linings of divorce:
1. You get to make all the decisions.
I remember the first time I had this revelation. I was in the grocery store buying peanut butter when it hit me: “Wait a minute! You mean if I want crunchy peanut butter, I can buy it and enjoy it without considering my husband’s lame creamy peanut butter preference?” It’s like I’d died and gone to Heaven.
2. Fewer holiday gifts.
You know the stress of the holidays. I have two kids with December birthdays, to boot! So, when I realized last year that there were five fewer people to shop for thanks to the divorce (because, of course, I was the one doing the shopping, even though they weren’t my own family), I just about jumped for joy. Anything to take the holiday season craziness down a notch.
3. You get a second chance at love.
Now, hear me out. Of course, your ex is irreplaceable, and I know you would have done anything to stick with the marriage. But, be honest with yourself. Your marriage wasn’t perfect. It hurts to admit, but it’s true. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here today. There were things that were lacking, and after a bit of time, you’ll realize, “Whoa! I actually get another shot at this! What if this time I find someone who enjoys my company, who share his emotions, who keeps up with house projects?” You’ll feel like a teenager again, fantasizing about your future husband. Even if you’re not ready to date, it’s fun to think about.
4. Your family and friends will show their true colors.
There’s nothing quite like a divorce with children – especially if the other half is shirking parental responsibility – to bring family and friends to your side. Notes of encouragement, agreeing to get together at the drop of a hat, lending an ear, taking your kids, even doing house projects. I learned that when someone offers to help in this type of situation – they mean it. A friend of mine offered for months and months to help out with house projects. When I finally took her seriously and mentioned a few things that needed getting done, she came to my house three separate times while I was at work and managed to replace a broken tile, fix a closet door, scrub my bathroom walls, and replace a cupboard door and a drawer face. I was touched beyond words. She wanted to help, and she meant it.
I also had the shock of my life when a group of moms I’d known online for years but had never met in person presented me with a very large sum of money that they donated collectively, knowing what a hard time I was having financially. The selflessness and empathy in that gesture stays with me every day, reminding me that I matter, even if my ex-husband didn’t think so.
5. Most importantly, you’ll realize your own strength.
You’ll hear it a lot at first: You’re so strong! And you’ll think, “Maybe it looks that way, but it isn’t easy, and I’m just doing what I have to do. Anyone else would do the same.”
Then months will pass and you’ll go through additional trials and tribulations that inevitably come up – sick kids, broken vehicles, flooded basements, late mortgage payments – and after a while, you’ll begin to realize you’ve been through a lot more than you bargained for, and came out the other side alive and, just maybe, thriving. You managed to keep not only your own life on track, but those of your children. You ran a household, solved problems, paid bills, and “adulted” at a time when simply eating and sleeping might have been a major accomplishment if you hadn’t had offspring to worry about.
But the greatest accomplishment of all is that you made it through a major emotional crisis in your life. You’re actually smiling again. You have hope. You’ve got things under control. And no man (or woman) will ever change that again.
If that’s not strength, I don’t know what is.
More from DivorcedMoms: