Divorce and all it entails. The reality of it all was exhilarating and filled with fear and terror. I was sad, angry, exhausted, happy and determined all at the same time. The moment I realized my marriage was over rocked me to my core. How the hell am I going to do this, I wondered? I was Mom to little innocents, ages four and six, I was running a business that employed 20 staff and I was working harder than ever.
When that dreaded moment came, the instant I realized that the tear in our union simply wasn’t going away, I turned the corner to face the inevitable. And then I became the planner extraordinaire.
I was constantly coming up with plans and possibilities and what-if’s. I had put the same energy towards our broken union, I had tried it all – therapy, journaling, church counseling, family guidance, friends who listened to me day and night. From the start, everything I could muster went into saving the marriage. But I couldn’t do it alone. Looking back, it was an impossible task, trying to mend and heal this rip that was larger than me, larger than both of us.
In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. My ultimate goal had been to avoid divorce at all costs, no matter what was going to happen, that wasn’t the outcome I wanted. It wasn’t about me or my happiness, it was about the children. I had somehow convinced myself that pushing into a bad relationship for the simple idea that two parents were ‘together’ under one roof, was the sacrificial agenda. No matter that there was screaming, controlling behaviors, yelling, silence, glaring and unhealthy discussions involving blame and angst, no matter. Somehow I had convinced myself that my efforts displayed the selflessness that we all must offer when faced with impossible situations.
Like I said, I simply don’t know what I was thinking. And since I had put so much energy towards the toxic union, the breakdown of the marriage was rather tumultuous. It was a few years of legal battles, money going to pay bills that made no sense and more lawyers than I can count. It got done and I moved on.
After the split, moving on became the new agenda. How to get into a new relationship was the real challenge. The old relationship and marriage was then, this is now. Now what? I looked for a plan to figure out how to trust someone else and have intimacy, without feeling like I was damaged goods or not worthy of a real relationship with a solid and good man.
I had a shower moment in the midst of all of this – you know those moments when you get the ah-ha! and find comfort or inspiration from your new thoughts? I realized that I was the holding block. I was the issue that held me back. It was my fear of moving forward, of getting incredibly hurt again that held me up. I was the one that had to reframe my experience and let it go and let it be.
This was more than just saying to myself ‘ok it’s time.’ It was allowing myself to be vulnerable again. It was facing the fear that it was possible someone would scream at me again while I tried to understand what I had done wrong. It was owning up to my worries and concerns so I wouldn’t fall into my familiar ‘trying-to-please-at-any-dam-cost’ mode. And it was owning my path.
My self-talk included ‘I have a voice and a choice’ along with ‘one day at a time, one day at a time.’ Starting over takes courage and inner strength.
There are the divorce flameouts that dismiss any personal change, responsibility or acceptance of their actions. I was not going to be a flame-out, thank you very much. I was going to move along this path-o-hell until things got better. Determined, I plodded on, managing the ugginess of it all.
The more I took ownership, the easier it got. The more I grew, the better things became. Life began smoothing out and all of the challenges seemed to be manageable. I began rebuilding my world and myself. It worked!
Let’s just validate this right now – by no means is it easy to face all of this but it sure beats the alternative of sticking your head in the sand while bashing everyone else around you. From my seat, the blame game is a lose lose. Was I wronged? Yes. Did it suck? Yes. Was it painful, humiliating and nasty? YES.
But you know what? It was worth it. I grew, I figured it out and found the courage to face my raw emotions and deeply held thought patterns.
When you embrace your fears, confront your shortcomings and take action, it is the neatest thing, your path curves a bit, it changes to better support you. You embrace the challenges and then you change. It is wonderful stuff.
Fifteen years later I easily remember that there was incredible pain, but the edges have softened to the point of faded memories. The children have enjoyed examples of healthy and productive relationships, we have all been in and out of counseling to manage unexpected emotions, I am happily remarried, and blessed with two stepdaughters. Overall it’s been a fabulous ride.
Looking back, I would wade in it all over again to get through the muck and onto the other side. There is no greater gift than discovering oneself and being authentic, it is living the quintessential Shakespeare quote, “To thine own self be true.” Being true to you is indeed a gift and a responsibility, do yourself a favor and carry on. It is well worth it, I think Shakespeare was onto something.