I’m no longer the woman I was when I was someone’s wife. I might look a little like that woman. Occasionally, I crack some of her jokes. I still treasure a few of her possessions. But I’m not her.
The end of my marriage signified the beginning of a new identity for me. I excitedly left the small town I’d grown up in and moved to the city, closer to my job. I traded my fun, fast and impractical car for a more economical model. And from then on, I savored lots of opportunities to learn and grow as a person…
I took a yoga class. I’d been practicing yoga off and on in my living room for several years, and my ex thought it was a ridiculous hobby. A few months after the divorce was final, I decided to let my curiosity take me a little deeper into the practice. I found a studio close to my new house, and I signed up for a slow-paced class. After a few months, I stepped up to faster flow and became a devoted student. Through yoga, I became better acquainted with my body. I learned how to steady myself, how to push myself and how to trust myself. My mat became an icon of inner reflection as well as outer expression as I shed the shell of my old self and opened to a new way of being.
I took a photography class. My grandfather was a photographer and I grew up loving the Ansel-Adams-inspired black and white prints that adorned books, newspapers and the homes of my family members. Knowing this, my husband once bought me a fancy camera as a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, I was too intimidated by all the knobs, buttons and filters to use the equipment for anything beyond the automatic settings. That is, until the Spring after our divorce when I signed up for a photography class at the community college. For six weeks, I had scheduled time devoted to my camera. I learned the functions of the previously-scary settings, and I felt more confident. I also gained a better understanding of the multitude of ways to view and interpret the world around us. Through the viewfinder, I learned to adjust the focus and make my vision a reality.
I got a Bachelor’s Degree. After high school, I attended a business school and obtained an Associate Degree. At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I thought it would be best not to invest a whole lot of time and money in the full-blown College Experience. Three jobs, one marriage and one divorce later, I was ready to finish what I hadn’t quite started. After getting a B (might as well have been an F) on my first paper, I learned that I’d need to adjust my personal settings and get comfortable in a new zone. I did, and less than two years later I had a pretty piece of paper to prove it.
I became a student of divorce… and people… and life, in general. From the time I announced my divorce (and was surprised by most reactions), I was fascinated by the topic. In an effort to understand our culture’s crazy (so I thought) approach to the event, I read piles of books about separation, divorce and family structures. When my studies introduced me to personality disorders, I read a pile of psychology books about narcissists, control freaks, sociopaths and bitches. When I realized that even crazy people are still people, I read about ways to exercise kindness and compassion in even the most difficult circumstances. I attended a workshop about the Buddhist approach to divorce. I took an online parenting class. I went to a local DivorceCare group. Eventually, I discovered the profession of divorce coaching and drove ten hours to obtain training. A few years after that, I collected a couple mediation certificates. And I’m still learning what I can, where I can.
I’m not the woman I was when I was married. I’ve learned since then. I’ve grown since then. And I intend to continue the trend.
More from DivorcedMoms:
- 3 Transformational Effects of Divorce
- 10 Ways Divorce Helped Me Grow
- 10 Unique Divorce Survival Tips
- An Open Letter To Divorced or Divorcing Parents