5 Lessons Learned After My Divorce
When I got married the last thing I saw coming was a divorce. I wanted the dream – the knight in shining armor to whisk me away and create a beautiful life with a house (and a picket fence), two kids and financial security. Instead what I realized was my divorce was the BEST thing that happened FOR me! And as we head into spring, it is a good time to spring clean your mind and those dust bunnies from your past.
Here are the 5 lessons I learned (and keep reinforcing) after divorce:
I learned how to rely on myself!
I got married at the age of 25 and while back then it was a normal age to get married, I had been with him since I was 18. I never really had to be an adult by myself, meaning without being tied to his identity. Sure, I had my own thoughts and beliefs. But for all of my adult life (until 41) I co-existed with someone. I never had to be “alone” and there was always someone to rely on financially. Someone to fix something or know who to call when something broke. The relationship was comfortable and a safety net. So post-separation I had to face the reality of truly doing life alone for my first time as an adult. I had to really look at my finances, focus on building my own business (and leaving corporate America) and ADULT! When something broke, it meant either learning how to fix it myself (thank you YouTube!) or asking someone for a referral. While it was uncomfortable and stressful, it was a reminder from the universe saying “You’ve totally got this, Wendy!”
I created a new support system!
While being independent is amazing and a life skill everyone must have, it also made me see how “alone” I was in my marriage and how “alone” divorced is way better! I spent a lot of time focusing on myself (something I never got to do when I was married) – enjoying baths, having a glass of wine (or two) in silence and watching a LOT of Netflix. While that was great, I also needed companionship and interaction. Most of us think this has to come from venturing out and dating. That is a BAD idea! I needed a support system of people who knew what I was going through, feeling, experiencing on a daily basis. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to put myself in place I knew no one, yet knew we had a lot in common. If you can find support when you are at your worst, imagine what is possible when you are at your best!
On the flip side, I learned who my true friends were. It’s interesting how people disappear or conveniently stop inviting you places when you are suddenly without a plus one. I get it – it is tricky. And many think divorce is contagious! Many friends also didn’t know what to say and many times it was digging for information and gossip, which I do not buy in to. “Cleaning house” as I call it, was the BEST thing I did or rather people I thought were friend did for me.
I set higher standards for myself!
The more I relied on myself, the stronger I became. In fact, I was already strong – it just put my strength on steroids! After hiring a coach, working with energy healers and working with my therapist, I was able to build back my confidence. I convert my pain into purpose and live a life true to my heart. The only way that was going to happen was if I discovered my voice and reclaimed my identity. To be an advocate for the life I wanted instead of feeling stuck in the one I had. Part of that included leaving my 6-figure paycheck (along with my marriage) and starting my own business. I always dreamed of working for myself and I never felt I had permission to do so. There was SO much power in knowing I did not need someone else to confirm or affirm what I wanted to do. Instead, there was so much power in realizing that in order to make something happen, I alone got to do it!
I manifested the partner I wanted – and didn’t settle!
Part of my journey to heal involved taking responsibility for how I showed up in my marriage and also learning what I tolerated that did not align with my values. I got to take my time to heal and I quickly learned that the fastest way to do that was to feel through the pain alongside someone who could guide me. And instead of focusing on all I did wrong I chose to instead demand more from the partner I wanted to share my life with. I waited 1 year to date and even still, I took my time. As I was getting to know myself as a single mom, I took her out on the town to test drive her. That does not mean I lowered my standards in the dating world, it meant that rather than focusing on whether a man would “like” me, I focused on using my voice while embodying WENDY. Being alone was incredibly valuable in dissecting who I was in my marriage vs who I want to be as a result of going through a divorce. That time was a gift! It made it clear to me what I wanted in a partner and taught me what happens when you sacrifice what you desire.
That allowed me to realize that when the person I was on a date with signaled a red flag, I got curious about it to make the choice to walk away or keep going. I also knew I was not in a place to be in a serious relationship as I wanted to truly date. To meet new people, go out and have fun, enjoy new experiences and go home without expectations. After all, my single life was looking pretty incredible at this point! My business was growing and my divorce was moving along in the way I hoped. 50/50 custody was becoming my new normal and I had a routine. Most importantly, I did not have to ask anyone’s permission to do something, to have breakfast for dinner or choose to stay in my PJs all weekend watching Netflix. My new partner had to check a LOT of boxes – and if a box was not checked, even after asking more questions, they were gone. To be with me, you have to be special and worthy of my story.
I learned how to be a better partner (and mom)!
After the initial shock of my now ex-husband’s infidelity, I got to take a long, hard look at myself in the mirror and take responsibility for how and who I showed up as in my marriage. With time and space, I realized how I showed up, treated him and as a result, contributed to the downfall of my marriage. Please note that I do NOT take responsibility for his choices . . . just mine. However marriage takes two people!
Conversation is now really important to me as is intimacy. Intimacy through conversation being the most important. Putting my phone away and connecting about our days. Respecting our need for alone and downtime after coming home from work. So much of my awareness was heightened and it has allowed me to create an amazing relationship with my boyfriend. We listen to one another, we empathize, ask for what we need and rarely have fights. Don’t get me wrong, we have disagreements and don’t always see eye to eye. However the volcano explosion is not longer a part of my demeanor. It is extinct. We are also aware of our “marriage baggage” aka triggers so it allows us to politely and constructively call each other out when that happens. And we each take ownership of how we get to keep working on lessening the load of that luggage.
While we cannot change our past, we can definitely leverage our learnings and lessons in the present and future. How will you do that moving forward?
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