People always look at you after you have gone through a divorce, and they really want to know and see within you that you are, indeed, happy. My dad asks me all the time, "You're happy, right?"
Hell yeah I'm happy! Whew! Quite the journey, but happy, joyous, in love, empowered could all be words to describe how I feel today. And so it goes without saying that there resides a space for gratitude for the journey that I have been through. So here's what I am grateful for about my divorce:
1. Being the Mother I want to be—Being a Mother is truly what I was meant to do. I love being a Mom. It's where I get a ton of my juice, but when I was married, I was constantly worried about what my ex would say, and what he would do, and how his parents would react and how everyone would react. I now have a ton of freedom in my Mothering, and that brings me great joy. I love creating a relationship with my children that allows them to know that no matter what, I will be there for them. I will always love them, and that I will not judge them for who they are. I will support them regardless.
2. Becoming ultra close with my parents—As an only child, one would have thought that being close is par for the course; however, not so when you are in a very restrictive marriage. I have so much post-divorce freedom that is new to me: being able to do things with my parents and enjoy their beautiful town and home, and see all of the friends I grew up with. Since I married when I was 23, I sort of grew up thinking you just give your will over to the other partner in the marriage. It was not a wise choice. I was living in small lies to my parents. I would say that I couldn't come visit for a variety of really stupid reasons. My ex guilted me into not doing things with them by convincing me that it was sacrificing family time that we had as a nuclear family. Now I enjoy having lunches and doing special activities with my parents. I now involve my kids in the lives of their grandparents in ways that were excluded during the marriage. And I have the courts and my custodial time on my side to protect this!
3. Learning to be alone and embrace the darkness— I am not saying this was a fun part of the divorce. I was REALLY alone. I ended up with only 30% custody when I lived only 15 minutes from my ex for the duration of one school year, and I had been the stay at home mom. I had to surrender my daily care of the children to my ex and a nanny. It was horrendous. It was during fall and then winter. At the time, I was developing my business and was fighting a legal battle. But I had way too much loose time to feel all of the yuckiness with little distraction. I would allow my body to feel the sadness, the longing, the deep, deep pain, and when I did that what happened was that I learned how to transform it. It was a very intense meditative process. My awareness for my emotions and feelings is really heightened now, and I can recognize, embody and move through them more gracefully. This is a hugely powerful tool. I can also comfortably eat alone in a restaurant or go see a movie by myself and that just feels really good! I can also enjoy myself while I'm alone!
4. Understanding Boundaries—My ex and I had a horrible pattern of behavior worked out. He would tell me how to act, and I would conform. Which, if you know me, is funny, because I know most people saw me as such as strong woman within the relationship, but not so. Learning to undo this type of pattern, to come unwound and draw boundaries was hugely challenging. At first he would try to get me to do what he wanted as he had been used to, and I would feel worry and try my new boundary drawing behavior of choice. He would then become confused as to why it wasn't working anymore and would try again. On occasion, he has triangulated the situation/issue by then going after my dad and more recently, after one of our children in order to try to get at me to change my mind about a decision, etc. But you see, I can see it, feel it, sense it from afar now. This has transformed my ability to work with these types of behaviors for clients, friends and family and it has been huge in inspiring change for them as well.
5. Knowing Who I Am (and who I am NOT)—Not only has being apart from a very toxic person allowed me to just be with myself, but also sharing 50% custody and not having the children full time has provided me with the time and space to explore who I am. After not having TV for 17 years, I learned that I like TV. I learned how important a daily meditation practice is for me, how I enjoy doing my make up in the morning, and I love getting good sleep. These things were not tolerated or supported during my marriage, so I am really grateful to both know and be who I am.
6. Girlfriends!—I am very grateful for the time and energy that I have invested in my girlfriend friendships. I never would have become as close as I am with many of my friends if I was still in that marriage. Being able to pick up the phone, guilt free, and just chat with my girlfriends is the BEST. I love laughing with them, cracking goofy jokes, going to see movies with them or go to the sauna. I love being able to pick up the phone and listen to their challenges, and I love knowing that they are there for me. I was kept away from my friends during the marriage. I try not to dwell on it as it makes me sad to think I let that happen. My girls are too important to me. Time without men and my boys is really hugely important to women and I will never sacrifice that again. Truly, what women get from this brings a sense of self-love and worth to any relationship with a man. So men, honor this—Girlfriend time is GOLD!
7. Doing what I love professionally—After having been a stay at home Mom for 10 years, and battling financial issues with my ex who insisted that the only job I could probably get was at Starbucks, I am thrilled to be doing what I love—(no offense to those working at Starbucks!) I love that you work there and are happy there and are cheerful when you greet me with my order; however, I had a Masters degree in Health Services Administration, a BA in neuroscience and had run my own consulting business integrating complementary and alternative medicine, so this insistence about where I could be employed was insulting to me. There was no support for my vision of who I could become. So, yes, I am grateful that I get to empower and inspire others to take hold of their challenging life circumstances and create the life they want to live. It's awesome!
One of my super heroes is author and speaker Caroline Myss. She talks about how we have sacred contacts with different people in our lives. I consider my ex to be one of those people. We had and still have a contract. I am unsure if he is to learn from me, but I am positive that our relationship was meant for me to learn from him. I am grateful most of all for his willingness to step up to the plate and be a royal yuck that has challenged me beyond my wildest dreams.
If we planned all of this out together before we arrived on earth, as Caroline Myss says, I look forward to finding him when we are done with this life and giving him a whopping high five. “Dude! We did it! You did an excellent job of being a complete jerk. That must have sucked for you! Thank you so much for all you taught me!”
What are your grateful for about your divorce?
For More Divorce Advice From YourTango:
- How To Divorce-Proof Your Marriage
- The Top 5 Mistakes That Lead To Divorce
- Dating After Divorce: What You Need To Know