We live in a world with a lot of judgments. And life just isn’t always simple. God knows that getting divorced when you have children in common is far from simple.
When I get the look from people in my life about why I wanted to be a Life Coach to help other single moms, I am always met with a sideways glance that asks, “when are you going to get over your divorce?” It’s not an oral question asked, but rather just a look. A look that I have seen many times and one that I am quite familiar with.
Why am I so delayed in what appears to be my grief by focusing on divorced moms as a topic of discussion, let alone an additional career path?
I Couldn’t Heal Because I Kept Pretending I Wasn’t Hurt.
And my answer is, “I couldn’t heal because I kept pretending I wasn’t hurt.” I couldn’t focus on it at the appropriate time that one would deal with something as traumatic as divorce can be. I had two small babies that needed so much from me and I was so afraid that if I did indulge in the feelings of the true trauma of what happened to my life, I would never be able to find my way back.
It took my children to finally reach young adulthood for me to be able to take a much-needed pause and really look back over the shoulder of my past and see what I did wrong and what I did right. There were so many items that could fall into both of those buckets. And to be honest, pretending that I wasn’t hurt in a funny way served me well.
If I could look at my life and pretend I wasn’t alone, pretend I wasn’t scared, pretend I wasn’t daunted, and pretend I wasn’t the only one in my family divorced…well maybe it was by that alone that I somehow survived. After all, isn’t “playing and pretending” one of the first skills we learn as children? I was and always have been so good at putting on a brave face and pushing through to get to the other side of something. But who I am today as a result of this is far from being the “Great Pretender”.
Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming. Alice Walker
Being somebody I didn’t became all too easy for me. And in those years while I was pretending, I realized that I was piece by piece becoming a new me. I was slowly becoming reborn. In the years of feeling victimized by my ex-husband or the woman who took him from us or the bosses that couldn’t understand the weight of my responsibilities at home, or the family members who couldn’t understand me at all or the boyfriend who couldn’t understand why he was not the center of my universe….well, it all just made me find my voice and find enough strength to yell ENOUGH!
I don’t owe my ex-husband comfort in being a compliant ex-wife.
I don’t owe his concubine my nervous system and shattered heart.
I don’t owe my boss any explanations about my personal life when I’m one of his top performers.
I don’t owe my family members a weekly program as to what was happening in my life and I don’t owe any boyfriend anything at all.
What I do know is that I deserve and have earned respect from each and every one of those people by the sacrifices I and my children had made in order to secure their comfort levels. I owe only to me. I owe it to myself to love and approve of the person I have become.
In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.
I have experienced more life than most of the people I know. Or at least it feels as though I have. And yet when I try to remember things that happened, I only remember them in a wash of grey. I don’t really remember the details that well. I do think that this is actually a byproduct of trauma and how we cope.
Or at least it seemingly is how I coped. Today, when I speak with women who have been through the trials of divorce and are coping with being a single parent, I get as much comfort in talking with them, as they do when talking with me. I do tend to ask myself periodically, what wisdom do I have and what can I impart upon the legions of single moms that seek my help?
The first message I receive from single moms is that they feel alone and frightened but cannot show it for fear that their children may pick up on this. They also feel that their friends and family will feel pressured to have to help, so they don’t show any neediness and they don’t ask for help. They don’t want to appear vulnerable to anyone. We straddle two worlds as divorced moms. One of being heartbroken and the other of being the strong women we are required to be, by virtue of today’s standards. We are required to feel like Rosie the Riveter 24/7 flexing our strong muscles and being somehow invincible.
The first thing I want to make clear to each and every one of the women I meet with shortly after saying hello, is that they are validated, and their feelings are real. And we start from there. No need to put on airs. My sign says, “Leave your cape at the door. Superheroes not required here.” Often times while we “pretend” we do so in an effort to make those around us more comfortable. And we do so at our own peril.
Be thankful for the wrong relationships. They teach you, change you, strengthen you and prepare you for the right one.
Divorce hurts. Whether you initiated it or not, it still hurts.
It hurts if you were cheated on.
It hurts if you fell out of love.
It hurts you, your parents, your siblings…. anyone who thought your marriage was the model union of which my tribe all thought.
But it also really hurts our children if we don’t address this kick to our hearts.
I admit I didn’t handle my broken heart well because I just didn’t address it at all. I just felt so erased and in a split second the home and the family we were building meant nothing. I was hurt. My husband left me for another woman weeks after our second child was born. I was hurt. I lost my husband, my best friend, my entire nervous system, my financial security, and my sanity. I was hurt. But, I never addressed it.
I do have the luxury of wisdom now. I do know what I did wrong, and what I did right. I have learned lessons that can indeed be shared. I know… heartbreak or not, I did marry the wrong man. He wasn’t a bad man, just the wrong man. I was the wrong woman for him too. He never meant to hurt me. He is not a man without a heart. He was just a lost man who needed someone else to ride out the rest of his life with. I get it now.
I also know that whether there is a right one for me or not, I am still growing, learning, and evolving. And the woman I am today doesn’t operate to make everyone else comfortable first. She accepts herself and expresses herself and gladly shares her sense of wisdom with anyone who wants to listen. And it’s okay if they don’t.
Being a Life Coach to divorced moms is a calling that was meant to be. There are few things in this world I feel more passionate about. I will never be able to forget the trauma of my divorce and that’s okay. The memories I have are a mixture of good and horrible all in one. But they serve to perhaps help other women not experience some of the broken pieces I had to endure.
And if they do, we can work together to rebuild. If at the very least I can make them feel less alone and a little more whole, I will have done what I set out to do. And I make no further explanations to anyone on that.