When you end up on the other side of a relationship, instead of asking yourself, “What was I thinking?” try, “What was I learning?” – Timber Hawkeye
I read this quote recently, and it stuck with me. I am now on the other side of my marriage, and I have learned so much. About relationships, marriage, and divorce.
Here is what I learned about divorce. Please understand that my divorce came about through my ex’s infidelity, so my view of divorce is through that lens. We didn’t end as loving friends who realized we were better off not married. We don’t have any sort of relationship now. We ended our 36 years together in a slow burning fire of hurt, pain, anger, and disbelief. One year plus after the divorce, and almost 4 years after finding out about the affair, the hurt, pain anger, and disbelief are all gone. And now I am left with the lessons. I am sure there are more to come as I move forward with my life, but to date, here are my lessons learned.
*I am much stronger than I ever imagined. I took the broken pieces of myself and turned them into someone I now love. I had a lot of help and support along the way, to which I am forever grateful. But it was my strength, that I never knew I had and never owned, that got me here. When I first found out about the affair, my then husband would tell me I was strong, and his affair partner was weak, and she just needed him so much more than me. I hated hearing that. I hated my strength, as I saw it as a trait that got me into this mess. Now I realize that my ex prefers weakness to strong women, and I never want to be with someone like that again. I am owning my strength and darn proud of it.
*Some friends stayed, and some left. And those leaving opened the door to many new ones. I am grateful to know them all.
*I became a subject of gossip in the community. I just had to fully comprehend the quote that says “your opinion of me has nothing to do with me”.
*My self esteem totally plummeted and I felt less-than as a woman. But no man could lift up my self esteem. I had to do that work myself for it to really take hold and fill the holes in me. It was hard work, but darn it, I am worth it!
*Copy everything!! Every piece of paper that may help in the divorce. Bank statements, credit card statements, insurance policies, emails and texts. Everything. Your kind loving husband can turn into someone totally different once the marriage ends, particularly if there is another woman involved.
*Go for more. Everything is a negotiation. Start with the maximum, and be willing to negotiate down from there. No need to feel bad. This was all part of your life as well as his, no matter what he says or how he begs to not give you the legal fair share.
*A good lawyer is a must. Ask for recommendations, but then interview them, and find a lawyer who will listen, who you trust, and who you feel comfortable with. It’s not fun talking to lawyers about divorce, but you need one so do your homework.
*Trust and Faith. I had to believe that I would survive the infidelity and break-up of my marriage and family. Know that you will, too, even when the days are so dark that you never think you will see the sun again. You will.
*Music and dancing always help, with friends or by myself. There were many songs that got me through those crazy days, whether they lifted me up, gave me some inspiration or caused me to burst out in tears. They were always cathartic.
*Letting go is hard. But it is a must. Get help with this whenever you need. The images of the affairs are so freaking awful. The anger is so easy to hold onto. And divorce is never pretty. But as it is said, holding on is like taking poison yourself and hoping it hurts someone else. It is a slow process, but I wasn’t fully healed until I finally let go.
*Learning to control the mental chatter through yoga and meditation gives me moments of quiet and peace. This isn’t easy to do in the best of times, and in the aftermath of an affair and a divorce, the voice in our head doesn’t want to stop talking for an instant. But I couldn’t (and still can’t) find clarity or listen to my heart without the quiet that comes through my regular yoga and meditation practice.
*Walking through your fears is a must. I had so many fears about just about everything when going through the divorce. But I do my best to not let them stop me. Fears are there when we don’t know how things will go. And I have learned that I would rather be fearful and try than to be safe and stuck. And life has shown me some beautiful and wondrous things when I was my most fearful.
*Life on the other side is fabulous. It truly is. I hope and prayer is that everyone going through infidelity and/or divorce can find the beauty and the miracles on the other side. I am here to help if anyone ever needs anything.
Oh Divorce. I never thought this would happen to me. I didn’t want it. There were so many lessons learned. None of them easy. I do hope that now that I have learned all these, I am not destined to repeat them. They hurt and they stung, but I am truly glad for the experience as it opened me up to be kinder, happier, and finding the joy in every moment.