I can count my divorce among the lowest moments of my life. Few other times have given me as much anxiety or pain than knowing my marriage was over and I was standing on the threshold of a new and unknown life before me.
I doubted my ability to support myself on my own. I feared the haunting loneliness of a quiet, empty home after so many years sharing my home with another. I grieved the loss of my relationship and wondered if there would ever be someone else for me. I felt as though my reality had all been a mirage and I couldn’t trust anything I had once known to be the truth.
Little by little, glimmers of light worked their way through the cracks in my life, and I started to believe it would be okay again.
How I Found Hope and Thrived After Divorce
1. At first, everything fell apart. I couldn’t find a place to live, the engine on my car blew, and I missed my kids so very much. All at once, everything I needed seemed to land right at my feet! The perfect house came up for rent, a friend offered me a very nice car to drive for as long as I needed, and co-workers came through with a washer and dryer, dining table, and a bed for my son. I transitioned from feeling utterly hopeless to feeling as though the universe was looking out for me at every level!
2. In the beginning, it was completely bizarre to walk into a home that echoed with the sounds of only my footsteps. No voice called out to welcome me home. No sounds of life buzzed away from another room. It was just me. I recall lying awake at night feeling a little scared to be completely alone, and I was nearly suffocated by silence as I ate alone.
Then, it occurred to me that my solitude was an opportunity to do whatever I wanted! I could blare my music, watch my shows with no regard for sharing or appeasing another’s taste, eat what I wanted, come and go with no explanation of where I had been, take as long as I wanted in the bathroom, and hog the whole bed! It was amazing, for a change!
I made my early days of singleness a sort of celebration of all things I couldn’t do when I was married. I ate foods that I gave up cooking for him because he didn’t like them. Instead of watching his unending guy shows about crab fishing, I watched marathons of chick flicks and musicals! I completely took over my living room with craft projects, and decorated my bedroom as feminine as possible. I was free to live as I chose!
3. I dated again, and I realized that even though he treated me like nothing, other men would treat me right and other men found me attractive! He made me feel invisible and worthless; but, I discovered that was his problem, not mine! He didn’t appreciate what he had, but others found me charming, interesting, and sexy! Wow, what a rush after years of being taken for granted!
4. During our marriage, he was the one who would (eventually) take care of a leaky faucet, flat tire, or mouse in the house. I had no carpentry, plumbing, or tech skills. Could I take care of things by myself, or would I be living surrounded by broken objects I had attempted to duct tape back together?
I’m still no pro, but I figured out how to take care of business! I discovered that I didn’t need to be a mechanic or an exterminator to solve my problems. Sure, I might have had to “phone a friend” to ask how to do something or watch a video (multiple times) to figure out how to put something together or repair it, but I did it!
I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to never need to ask for his help or show him signs of weakness! He imagined that my life would fall apart without his magnificence gracing it; but, the beauty of it is that he never had the pleasure of seeing me cry, struggle, or beg! I made a point of making myself so strong that I would never need to depend on him again for anything!
5. I realized that I didn’t need his money to survive. Of course, I had to make some lifestyle adjustments to make up for supporting a household with just one paycheck; but, I made it! The first two Christmases I literally made my kids just about every present I gave them, I started making my own laundry soap, almost every piece of furniture or clothing in our house came from a garage sale or thrift shop, and we got really good at entertaining ourselves on the cheap.
I look back now, and some of the most beautiful and creative things I have ever done came from that time of my life when I had nothing and had to make the best use of what I had to get by!
Meanwhile, I worked my tail off to finish my master’s and secured a job that paid better than what I had ever had. We were not wealthy, by any means; but, I was very proud of the fact that I could independently provide for myself and my kids! As a matter of fact, he suffered more for losing my income than I ever did for losing his!
Who would have thought that in the depths of my divorce darkness there could be light, even hope?
The secret is to keep placing one foot in front of the other, even when you don’t want to. Even when you don’t think you can!
A large component of divorce recovery is having faith in yourself even if no one else does, and even though you may not believe there’s a chance for life to be happy again!
No matter how dark it may be, light is always within reach!
Don’t give up on your future, and no matter what, never give up on yourself!