Divorce reminds me of when I was five years old growing up in Georgia and I wanted to go play with my friends, so I rushed cleaning my room. At that point I was an only child with a huge bedroom, and two gigantic closets, and I remember literally stuffing crap and crud everywhere, my closets barely closed, my drawers had toys in them and under my bed – well that was a joke too. But, I wanted to play and this was the quickest way out.
Walking towards the front door, my Grandmother asked if I had finished my room, and I answered in my sweetest most southern “yes ma’am.” She then accompanied me to my room, and the next five minutes of my childhood have haunted me until, well, until today. My Grandmother tore that room apart, my bed sheets and all, my closets were tossed outward to the floor, my drawers were dumped out one by one, and everything I had shoved under the bed was now pulled out to join the rest of this, now mass, chaos that was my life.
There it was, I was surrounded by every little thing I had wanted to either hide from, or hide away. And, divorce is the same. You are five years old sitting in the middle of your floor, crying, pissed off at the world for all the chaos and mess around you. It feels like someone has died, it feels like nothing makes sense, and when you have a lucid moment it only lingers momentarily then subsides when anger takes its place. Then little by little, you put things where they are supposed to go, until order returns.
It was not my Grandmother’s fault back then that I was in the middle of a messy room, and it wasn’t the world’s fault that I found myself in the middle of a messy divorce now. The rush to go, the need to play, to do more, be more, it all gets in the way sometimes and if we don’t stop and inventory what is important in life – that can happen to anyone. Sometimes, divorce is the time where that forced inventory takes place.
During the gut wrenching moments of divorce you are getting to know yourself again. You question your self-worth, your independence, your integrity, your parenting abilities, whether you are attractive and the question every woman asks of themselves: “Will anyone ever love me again?” The answer to that is simple, they will, as soon as you learn to love yourself first.
You have to know your own self worth. What you bring to the table. As you are putting things away in your life you start to see what you will put up with, and what you no longer need to accept. You realize the things you really appreciate about yourself and don’t want to change, and the things that can get tossed in that bag for goodwill. You learn to re-evaluate your priorities to include yourself and more time with your children and friends that took a backseat while trying to salvage your marriage.
It is vital to take the time to feel, to be angry, to be hurt, to cry and maybe even make a bigger mess at first. Just pick back up and don’t stay there too long. Discover what led you to where you are, and how to maneuver around that next time, if there will even be a next time. Maybe you aren’t in a rush to date again – that is okay!
There is no life plan, or time frame other than your own. Don’t stuff, rush, hide or run from things that will just get thrown right back in front of you to face again down the road. Face it now, take the time to sort, to weed out, to organize and put away all the things that are important.
Just as so many people say a loved one is a missing puzzle piece, sometimes you yourself are missing a piece all of your own to begin with. Start with yourself, clean out those closets, under your bed, empty the drawers – open the windows and let that fresh breeze in. That is life after divorce.