A special man sent me a text this morning wishing me a happy 5th anniversary. It wasn’t OUR anniversary he was recognizing but the 5th anniversary of my divorce . It’s hard to believe that it’s been 5 years since my marriage ended (not to mention that it was on this day 20 years ago that I went on the first date with my ex-husband). Those first couple of years were some of the most difficult of my life but the past three years have been a great time for healing, personal growth and authentic joy.
To commemorate – celebrate seems a little inappropriate – the fifth anniversary (anti-versary?) I decided to write about the five most important things that I’ve learned since my divorce.
1. Everything happens for a reason: one of my best friends had “EHFAR” tattooed on her wrist shortly after her own separation. To be honest, I used to find the saying cliche and flaky; much like the saying “it is what it is” EHFAR struck me as a cop out for taking accountability for your actions. I’ve never been good at leaving my life in fate’s hands but following my divorce I learned to just let things happen – either as a great success or an epic fail – and see it as a learning experience. My dear friend AF refers to the challenges or disappointments in his life as “the best shit that’s ever happened to me.” The universe has never given me anything that I couldn’t handle and although there were times when I feared that I might break, it turns out that I’m made of some strong shit. And on that note:
2. I’m strong but I break too: There were so many days when I thought “I can’t go on like this.” Dark, sad, lonely nights filled with self loathing, doubt and regret. And the little things – bedtime, bath time, another night of tantrums with no one there to spell me off were excruciating. Worry that after another relationship failed to “stick” meant that I was going to turn into a Grey Gardens-type kook eating cat food and ordering in vodka. But during those dark nights of the soul, I called on my personal reserve of optimism, fierce determination and my love for my children. And I surrounded myself with the best friends a woman could wish for, friends who knew that although I’m usually strong I sometimes need a safe place to fall apart before I can grow.
3.To respect and admire my ex-husband in ways that I couldn’t when we were married: I’m not the only one who has changed and grown since my divorce. My ex-husband has also transformed himself, and not just into a lean bearded hipster (although he totally is). I truly admire the father he has become to Our Two. He is invested in their day to day experiences, cherishes the time he spends with them and has a deep love and respect for the men that they are becoming. One of the saddest truisms of cheap divorce is that it often takes the unique experience of single parenthood for us to become authentically present for our children. I’ve also seen him allow himself to be vulnerable and open to a new relationship and he is happier than I’ve seen him in years. He has never criticized my parenting style, used financial support as a weapon or judged me for my choices. I wouldn’t say that we are best friends or even that we still love one another, but there is deep caring and mutual respect between us which will only benefit our children.
4. How to give zero fucks: When I told friends and family that we were separating, many were quick to judge, criticize and offer incredibly unhelpful advice (“Why don’t you wait 10 years until the kids are grown?”). Needless to say, I could have used a Divorce Doula during those early days when I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. There was no HuffingtonPost Divorce 5 years ago, no divorce parties or cakes, no Wealthy Single Mommy or Joy of Ex. Divorce and single parenting were largely undiscussed and a bit…shameful. I didn’t feel like a failure yet there was always someone who insinuated that I was through their anger, disappointment or pity. But instead of worrying about what other people thought about me or my decision, I gave zero fucks and did what I felt was right. I knew intrinsically that I was right to end my marriage and things have turned out pretty well for both of us. Our children and happy because their parents are happy, just not together.
5. I still believe in happy endings: People often ask me if I want to get married again and my answer is always “Yes.” Maybe not White Dress-Big Ring married but I definitely want to be in a committed, equal and enduring partnership. I’m not a princess who needs rescuing nor do I want a father for my children – they have a great one already. I want companionship, mutual support & respect. Intimacy. Openness. Communication. Trust And FUN. If you know me personally or if you only know me through my blog, you know that I that I have a couple of awful breakups, several lovely relationships that didn’t work out and also that I have kissed my share of frogs. And yet, five years on, I remain open to the possibility of love in the second act (and maybe even the third act because I plan to live a looooooong time) and know that happiness, love and acceptance needs to come from within before it can be experienced with another person. So am I done kissing frogs? Ewe never know.
You are an inspiration! Love you.
Thank you, My Maritime Sister. Love you too!
We love you Pam xo Great little article.
Thanks, DZopp. Love you too!
Well written and all of us have a soft side it’ s not being weak it’s being human Happiness will find you again and when it does you’ll be ready Love You
Thank you, Mom. I love that you are still my biggest fan. Love you.
We (husband and I) met you at a dog park not that long ago and I have read a few of your posts – interesting reading. I was married and divorced by the time I was 23, with a 3-year old on my hip. My husband’s marriage lasted the same amount of time. We aren’t officially married, but we’ve been together and living as husband and wife for nearly 9 years now … and we always say that if we hadn’t experienced our first marriages, we would never have been able to weather the absolute crappy times that have been thrown our way in the last six (read it and weep: SIX) years: a head injury resulting in dramatic and frequent seizures, major depression, superbug infection, 5 surgeries, single incomes … you name it … but there is nobody else I’d rather go through this with. There IS life after divorce and I think your points above are all so on-the-money … a great read.
Hi Karen – I loved meeting you & your husband at the dog park last month and have thought of you often. I’m so glad you took the time to visit the site & read a few posts. Hope Dug & I will see you at the park again soon. xo
Thank you for this blog. I am currently going through my first year of separation with what would have been our 20th anniversary just days away. My usual reaction is to build a wall, stay unemotional and ignore my inner feelings. Knowing this is not healthy, im trying to figure how to deal with this day. Reading your posts fills me with positive energy, hope and commitment to heal. One thing i have been encountering are other single moms filled with bitterness, anger, no hope and negativity. Its hard sometimes not to join the pity party, but i am determined to move beyond that. Life is too short, there is too much life to enjoy and i want to live a long happy life, whether i end up married again or not. Having such positive, forward thinking, open minded people, like you, share their good ‘fortune’ is a true blessing
Thank you for taking the time to read & write, Sue. Sending you strength & love.