When I’m writing about divorce and single parenting, I’m often writing about how to survive, how not to screw up, how to keep sane. One thing I don’t focus on enough, and something I think we should all focus on is… how to thrive after a divorce.
A divorce is really a great opportunity to grow. I know, you’re all like, “What the hell you talkin’ ’bout Madge? I’m in emotional hell here!” Yes, it is incredibly painful and and sad and exhausting and trying but it can make you a better person. Or it can make you a bitter old hag. Pick one…
Going through a divorce and raising kids on my own has made me a stronger person. And you learn to appreciate the good things more when they come. Oh I wasn’t always this fabulous. I was kind of a miserable, bitter broad in the first few years of my divorce. I was so immersed in being in a city where I knew no one, with 3 kids under the age of 7, and an ex who barely had any time for his kids because he was busy travelling the world with his job and cavorting with his much younger girlfriend. Bitter? You betcha’.
Unfortunately my ex was completely unsympathetic, any of my money troubles or schedule juggling problems were all my fault because I should just do things… better. And my family God bless them, they helped financially here and there but their support wasn’t very sympathetic either. It was my fault, I picked him. Why am I being stupid and staying in a place where I knew no one and I should just pick up and move in with them in a place I hate? Now, I wonder if maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea. But I don’t know, I can’t change it now. All I know was at the time, I had just moved a family of 5 across the country, I wasn’t in the mood to pick up and start all over once again. Also the kids were close to their Dad at that point and didn’t want to leave him. What was I gonna’ do?
The one thing I didn’t do until about 7-8 years into my divorce is figure out how I was going to starting thriving instead of surviving. I just kept trying to keep my head above water, never mind making a successful future. I just kept living in the here and now, concentrating on the kids and how to keep food on the table. I never had the chance to sob on someone’s shoulder, have a pity-party, go to a spa, take a vacation by myself, go to a self-help conference, etc. I was broke and I had no time.
I used to wanna’ punch all the ladies in the face that were always like, “Oh I’ve had such a rough time, I’m going to California for a few days” Must be nice, I always thought… bitch. But then later I stopped riding the bitter bus and tried to take swims in lake me anyway I could. As the kids got older I could put Marshall Law into effect and say I would be in my room for the evening, please do not disturb me unless your hair is on fire. That was my rest, relaxation, recoup and recover time. I did whatever… wrote, came up with spreadsheets about careers I wanted, expenses, college plans for kids, or just laid there in a Smart Food Popcorn induced coma and watched endless episodes of various “Housewives”. It was my time. I needed a calm place to figure stuff out.
Then I pushed myself to do stuff I’d always wanted to do to figure out where my future was going to go. I auditioned for theater productions… failed miserably but at least I could rule that out. Tried improv… again failed. Interviewed for various PR, copywriting, and management jobs and again… fail. This sounds like a lot of fun, right? Yea, it sucked but I had to keep pushing to try stuff to weed out the junk and figure out what I was supposed to do. You might have it easy, you may already have a useful degree or an idea of what you want. I kind of new but everyone made me think it wasn’t useful or lucrative or achievable. I finally trusted my instinct and took a leap of faith. I wrote a book, and writing opportunities came. (Book is here)
I’m writing. I created my own job. I’ve had more personal and financial success with this than anything else. Should I have done it a long time ago? Don’t know. Maybe not, I think I had to go through all the crap first. And this… what I’m doing here, will provide a much more stable future for my children then all the other stuff I was trying to do.
To sum it up… if Mama ain’t healthy, the whole family won’t be healthy. And that’s a fact. Moms we need to take a little bit of time to figure out how we can thrive not just survive and the whole family will run better. Trust me. And besides that martyr outfit looked a little frumpy on me…