Acknowledging your own past is really the coolest way to embrace all that future coming your way.
You don’t always enter into monumental breakups hoping you’ll come out of it a better person. Sometimes you do, I guess, but just as often I think there are a lot of people who don’t.
To stand around and blame someone else for the collapse of a shared dream is just spreading tragedy on tragedy.
So in the wake of my divorce this past January, I said to hell with all that: I’m going to revisit my married self and study me like a book. Sure, I wanted to get a better understanding of where I’d messed up, but I also wanted to acknowledge some things about me that are good too, things I might have lost sight of at a time when I wasn’t feeling all that spectacular about myself.
Here are some things that I’ve learned from living though the first fresh months of brand new divorce. I hope it inspires at least a few folks, because the way I see it, when you’re going through one of the worst times in your life, acknowledging your own past is really the coolest way to embrace all that future coming your way.
1. I’m difficult sometimes
I can be tough to be around. I know, right? Surprise! But I don’t think I ever wanted to admit that to myself when I was married. Everyone has things that rub their partner the wrong way, and that’s fine. But listening to what your wife or husband says to you about that stuff instead of denying it can be a real game changer in the way love rolls.
2. I am marriage material
Looking back, as funny as it sounds, I know now that I’ve got what it takes to stay in a marriage. I never really wanted out of mine — almost to a fault, I guess. I believe in the institution, even if I think that we all need a way more modern version of marriage these days. But I know that I never dreamed of divorce even at our roughest patches. That’s insane in a lot of ways, but there you go. I dug being married, I really enjoyed having a so-called partner in crime.
That being said, I’ll be the first to admit I’ll probably never get married again. As much as I love the idea of marriage and get excited when I see other people getting hitched on Facebook or a bride and groom standing out front the local church on a Saturday afternoon, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t think marriage is in my best interest.
Look, I loved playing baseball when I was a kid too, but I gave up on the Big Leagues when I was around 11.
3. I’m really, really good at self-criticism
I rarely mess around with denial anymore, preferring to stare myself down until I can admit my shortcomings and where I went wrong. It isn’t ever easy, and I’m willing to admit that I get hung up on certain things, never acknowledging as much as I want to be acknowledging about myself. But I try, and I’m really good at it now.
4. I was an okay husband
I think I wanted to tell myself that I had been the worst fellow who had ever called himself a husband, just to make it easier to understand and deal with what had happened. But after processing everything a bit more, I feel differently.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I sucked at so much in my marriage. There were so many times I could have been a better listener or a more compassionate friend, so many times I could have bitten my tongue and not said hurtful things.
But I was still okay. I loved her for real; I just didn’t have the tools I’m starting to find now.
5. I don’t need anyone else to be happy
This is huge for me. Pre-divorce, I really thought that I couldn’t live a normal life if I wasn’t married. I really think I thought I might die or something. But as it turns out: I kind of love this whole single dad world I’m living in these days. Oh, it’s a fiasco in a thousand different ways, I assure you. However, I’m as happy as I’ve been in a while, even when I’m not happy. Why? Because if I’m not happy, I’ve got no one I can possibly blame but me.
I loved being married. Now, I love being single. Funny how life works sometimes, huh?
6. I was an angry person
In my marriage, anger was common. Fights were regular, and tempers were easy to light. I was an angry, young man when I got married and that sucks. For my ex and for me. And for our kids, too. While it’s over now and I can’t change the past, I am sad for it. For losing something that might have lasted forever (or at least like 20 more years).
That sadness comes with me recognizing that I was a man on fire way too often. I never want to be that way again. It’s easier said than done, of course — personal change takes a ton of work — but I’m aware of that now.
And you know what?
That’s pretty much everything when it comes to learning from your own divorce, don’t you think?
This article originally appeared on Babble.com
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