By Lindy Earl
What if the best thing that ever happened to you was your divorce? While going through it, the journey may have seemed like it was lasting forever. It may have seemed that your life was over. You may have felt like a failure.
With just a little time behind you, or maybe a lot of time, you may find that your divorce was the best thing that ever happened to you. It opened your eyes to some realities that you either didn’t know existed or didn’t want to face. Both of those were true for me.
I failed to face some realities in my own life, and we are not going to get too specific here. But, the saying that the spouse is always the last to know was coined for a reason. Across the board, it could be an addiction or debt or affairs. Even when I had some clues that something was not quite right, I didn’t want to face the truth. I was happier pretending things were okay than facing reality . . . for a while.
Was life painful, once I faced the truth? You know it. Am I better off first, knowing the truth, and, second, acknowledge and dealing with it? You know it.
My divorce forced me to deal with multiple things. I believe after my divorce I became a better mother. I became a better friend. I became a better sibling and family member. I hadn’t realized that I was trying to hide some of my relationship disfunctions. Once they were out, and I could talk a little more openly, I realized how broken the marriage, and I, had been. More importantly, people could talk to me. It was liberating having people tell me stories that they had kept to themselves. I needed to hear them, as painful as they were. Sharing these stories is wonderfully cathartic for both the teller and the listener.
Since my divorce, I believe that I am more compassionate, kind, caring, loving, thoughtful, understanding, a better listener, and more empathetic and sympathetic. That’s a lot of improving! All these traits that were within me, but I hadn’t let out, or failed to access for year and years, all came pouring out of me.
I like the person I am today for the first time in over 25 years.
Looking back, I like who I was as a 20 year old. Looking back, I didn’t like the person I was as a 35 year old. Looking forward, I want to like the person I will become as a 60 year old.
So what are the good parts of a divorce? One, it gives you freedom. Two, it puts the responsibility for your life exactly where it belongs. Three, it allows you to make decisions based on what you want. Four, it’s all about you! Even if you have children and a significant other in your life, you can, maybe for the first time in your life, make decisions that matter most to you.
It could be something simple like, “I’m never eating a certain vegetable again.” You had gone along with things in order to get along. It could be painting a room a certain color that somebody in your family didn’t like. It doesn’t matter anymore if somebody else likes a color or not. You like it and you can choose it! It could be beyond eating and decorating but how to spend your time. Do you enjoy staying up late or rising early? Do you enjoy working in the garden? Did you used to do things you didn’t enjoy but went along with it because you wanted to be a good sport?
In my case that would be garage saling – it’s fun on occasion, but not how I want to spend every Saturday morning. Maybe for you it’s dinner out or a sporting event that you never enjoyed. The point is that divorce, while it’s horrendous, can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Divorces tend to come after we have matured. So now we get a new beginning with a better perspective. I’m sure you’ve heard the question: What it would be like to be back in high school, but with the knowledge you’ve gained in your life? Well, that’s kind of what divorce allows.
I’m back to dating like a teenager, but now we don’t have curfews or parents or homework due. It’s fun! Would I prefer to date a spouse within a marriage? Yes. I do hope to remarry someday, and I won’t stop dating my future spouse once we find one another.
That, however, is not the life I have right now. So for now I choose to see divorce as a good, albeit a once-in-a-lifetime, thing. Maybe it’s the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I now enjoy new physical experiences, new emotional experiences, and new spiritual experiences. I’m using this opportunity for all kinds of new beginnings. I’m returning to forgotten or ignored hobbies. I am starting new friendships. I am looking up old friends. I am establishing new relationships and better relationships with people who are really interesting and interested in me.
Now is the time to make amends if you have any to make. I have never been in a 12 step program but I can appreciate much of what is taught in these programs. There are people who I need to address and say, “Wow, I learned so much from you,” or “You really made a difference in my life.” The divorce was painful and I didn’t want it. Yet now, after the fact, I can see that it was a really good thing to happen to me. I hope, if not now, then in time, you can say the same.
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com or find her on Face Book.