Divorce sucks. But ultimately it offers gifts if you know how to look for them.
I was the first of my group of friends to go through this life-altering change. There are a lot of things I learned, advice I wish someone had shared with me during my divorce process. I’m passing it along, I hope it helps.
When people tell you who they are, believe them.
Sure people can change; you can work on those parts of yourself that are pliable. The flip side of that is, deep down, people are who they are; some parts of ourselves are firm. My ex told me through his every action who he was in 1996, and again in 1997, 1998, 1999.
People don’t verbalize their deepest inner workings; mostly they don’t even see the truth for themselves. People tell you who they are subtly. Pay attention. You’re being told something very valuable. Don’t ignore it.
History will repeat until you change it.
Some lessons, the ones we really need to learn, will keep coming back in different ways until we pay attention. It starts with a whisper. “Hmmm this doesn’t feel right, something is off.” You ignore it. So, it comes back. This time it’s more obvious, a cosmic knock now, more blatant than a whisper, in the hopes you’ll pay attention. “Hmmm this doesn’t feel right, but I guess your explanation could make sense.” Uh-oh, you’re in trouble. It’s coming back again. This time it’s a loud bang on your front door. Most of us pay attention at this point, do what needs to be done and put whatever lesson needed to be learned in the checked column. Some of us won’t.
Sadly I have been here. Brushed away the whisper, ignored the knock, and buried my head during the banging. So, the whole damn house fell down. At that point buried under rubble, there was no way I could get out other than deal with it and get through it. Listen for the whispers and don’t ignore the knocks. Face them head on before there’s a bang and a house falling down on you.
Trust your gut.
We all have our own inner GPS although we don’t always choose to follow it. Every time I have known something in my gut, I’ve been right. There are so many reasons we don’t trust our guts. We want to believe what we want to believe, we aren’t ready to face what’s in front of us, and usually our gut is telling us something that throws a wrench in our plans. In the quiet moments, you know what’s going on. If you choose to ignore it rest assured you will at some point tell yourself, “I knew it, I knew I knew it and I wish I had listened to myself.”
Work on the one person who is always with you.
Once you actually move on, take the time to take a look in the mirror. Because wherever you go, there you are. New boyfriends, husbands, jobs, homes, friends, haircuts, and hobbies are all just Band-Aids that temporarily stop the bleeding. They don’t heal or truly make anything different. When the bloom is off whichever new rose you pick, you are still stuck with yourself. Whatever demons you have not worked through, whatever neurosis still linger, will keep popping up no matter where you go, because there you are. Instead of spending time and energy focused on anyone or anything else, focus on yourself first and get yourself to a place in which you are truly content with who you are and how you move through the world.
Let go of the life you planned and love the life you have.
In order to really move through the world, you need to give up the life you planned, to live the life waiting for you. If things are going downhill fast it’s natural to hold on tight to anything comforting and your life plan can be something to cling to.
At some point it’s wise to let go of what you envisioned and get on with what is. Rowing harder does not help if you’re going in the wrong direction. I am Type A. To have my life’s plan thrown out the window was very unsettling, but it was a huge opportunity for growth. I don’t have any idea what my life will be. I do know I am not looking at the marriage I once had for the next 40 years and for that, I’m embracing the uncertainty. I feel blessed that while I don’t know what’s to come, it’s not that, and that’s enough.
The process of divorce sucks. Ultimately it’s for the best, but when living through the struggle “ultimately” feels far away. Enjoy the gifts along the way. I never wanted to be in this position, but I can absolutely say that while my marriage didn’t survive, my friendships, my relationships with my family, my friends and most importantly my kids, are thriving in ways they were not given the freedom to when I was married. I lost my voice and have been given the gift of finding it again through the demise of my marriage. It’s a gift I cherish.