It had been many years coming, but it wasn’t until I actually took that first step to divorce my husband of 16 years, that I was hit with a paralyzing fear: everything I held dear and worked hard for could be taken away in a minute. Our children, home, retirement, and savings, at least what was left of it before he stole it, were all on the chopping block. Making the decision on whether to stay or not to stay in a marriage can be agonizing, even if you’re like me, and have been unhappy for more years than not.
Leaving is never easy, and giving up what we deem as stability, is even harder to let go of. But one of the things I have learned along the way is; security and certainty do not exist, except in our minds. Staying for security is staying for the known status quo, and that is being attached to the past. Divorcing is about moving forward with your life and only looking back to learn from your past.
The first year after divorce is definitely the hardest since you are re-analyzing your life and rediscovering yourself. Many, like me, have lost ourselves along the way in our marriages, and when freedom is finally granted, we may not know what to do with ourselves. Post-divorce is the perfect time to start learning new things you always wanted to do but didn’t have the time or the right partner to encourage you to do it. Learn a new language, take continuing education classes at your local community college on topics that interest you, start writing or painting again, learn meditation, do whatever you find interesting as you begin your journey of self-discovery.
After my divorce, I learned so much about myself and you will too.
1. I learned I am far more productive. Before my divorce, I wasted so much time and energy on trying to fix things in our broken marriage, that I had little energy for anything else. Afterward, I was renewed with a voracious desire to accomplish all the things I kept postponing for the right time. The right time was NOW!
2. I have learned that I can only control me. When you are part of a couple, even a dysfunctional couple, each party has some input as to how the household runs and the raising of the children. However after divorce, that all changes. You cannot control your ex’s house and rules. You can voice concerns, but that is all. Also, it’s important to learn how to safeguard your emotions from the ex who will push your buttons regularly, and realize that you are the boss of how you allow yourself to be treated and how you react.
3. I learned the true meaning of gratitude. The first day I awoke in my new place after the divorce, I cried. Not because I felt sad, but at that moment it felt like Christmas morning. I was so grateful that I was given my freedom from the nightmare of my marriage that I vowed I would show and acknowledge my gratitude every day.
4. The bond with my children became deeper and more meaningful. My children were always my priority, but after the divorce, I had more time to focus on them and our relationship instead of always having to fend off toxicity in the home from my ex. The existing bond became stronger and we were spending more time and quality time together than before.
5. I learned strength is defined in many ways. Strength is in all the little things we do day in and day out. It’s an amalgamation of all the sacrifices we make as parents and as humans. It’s about challenging old beliefs we hold dear, it’s about letting go of the anger that keeps us stuck in the past, and most of all it is about trusting yourself enough to explore the depths of love again.
6. I have less fear and know that I am truly a warrior. Before divorce I was so fearful of the unknown, it is one of the things that kept me in an emotionally abusive marriage. But taking that leap of faith has shown me that I am not only a survivor but a warrior. I tackle everything that comes my way with determination, and I realize my own self-worth. I’m happy to say that fear no longer resides here.
This is my first year after my divorce last February and don’t yet feel very good– yet. My life has been tragic, with my husband of 36 years walking out without anything said that he wasn’t happy. My reaching out online and on bligs to find out what and why this happened to me was instrumental in my self discovery and finding out I was not alone either, this happened to others just like me “blind-sighted” is the perfect word. The book called “Runaway Husbands” helped me immensely in evaluating not only my marriage to the wrong person but the fact that I gave up too much of own self and needs for him.
At age 59 now, I am still so lost. Only 4 months after my husband left, I got a call from my brother in NY late one night,telling me to sit down because he had something “shocking” to tell me. That is when he told me that while cleaning out our dad’s apartment he found my European Adoption documents hidden in a metal box. To find our that my parents never told me about this, even as an adult, one who had joined the US Navy has hurt me and made me feel an identity crisis too. I had been born to a French Jew in Baumholder, Germany and had another birth mane entirely.
Luckily, since I am outgoing I kept in touch with a dear Navy wife friend on the east coast (I’m on the west) who had been my rock during the past 3 years. She understands the pain I have been through and tells me all the time that I have come a long way, grown up so much and endured so much over this time.
Staring a daily journal 3 years ago after my husband left was instrumental in my coping. This then caused me to begin to write an autobiography about my life including how I coped with my husband leaving me, my living with a funcitional alcoholic during my marriage, my rasing 2 Special education children basically by myself since my husband was career Navy and also not engaged with our sons, and many more topics about my life. I hope to one day be able to pen the chapter called “On The Other Side” with a happier life and new beginning better than before.
Christine Nanfra says
I am sorry to hear about the sequence of events that have unraveled for you in a short time span. You may not realize it yet, but you are well on your way to “the other side”. The fact that you at writing about your life is a great indicator. When we are stuck, we usually cannot put pen to paper. I believe everything happens for a reason, and all things fall into place, eventually. There will be good days, bad days, great days, and devastating days. I have learned to be grateful for all days. The really bad ones help us to grow and evolve and the really good ones are to be appreciated and cherished. Today it may not seem like you will be able to write that chapter, but you will. Keep writing and work at healing and before long you will have that book finished. Wishing you peace!!
You are so spot on with this blog. I was married for 17 years with two little kids. It took me 3 years to finally have the courage to take my leap of faith. And it hasn’t been easy dealing with guilt and the emotions that come with divorce but at the end of the day, I am way happier, have a better self-esteem, realize “things” cannot make me happy, and above all else, a fantastic mom. Trust your gut and acknowledge each emotion. They are all part of the healing process.