This is dedicated to those who are in the midst of the grips of separation and/or divorce.
Three years ago, on my 50th birthday, I was newly divorced. Not something I ever anticipated or thought would happen. Nor was it something I believed I would initiate. I remember going through the process thinking, OH MY GOD!!! What have I gotten myself into? At times, I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know which way to turn or how to focus or even how to go forward. Sometimes, I would cry myself to sleep, to release not only the exhaustion but also the anger seething through my bones. And, just when I believed things were going to work out, my ex would find one thing or another to dispute. It was only after my lawyer recommended mediation, that I finally saw some light. By that time, I was desperate to just get it over with. I was sick of the struggle. I was sick of battling. I was sick of being married. More importantly, I was sick of losing myself.
However, since my divorce, I have not dated or fallen back into another relationship. Instead, I have taken time to spend my days with me, myself and I. During that time, I have learned to love myself, unconditionally. I have learned to enjoy being by myself. I have learned which personal baggage to keep and which to discard. And, I have learned, through a number of books, why my marriage became a statistic of divorce.
This process of learning the ins of myself has been slow, challenging and definitely eye opening.
There are things I have been totally in denial about. I knew my ex was a verbal abuser. But after reading a book about it, I discovered he had 18 out of the 20 characteristics. I, on the other hand, had 6 out of 20 making me just as bad.
I realized I was addicted to shopping. It didn’t matter if we needed it or could afford it, I bought and bought and bought and bought and charged and charged and charged and charged. When the credit card bills came in, my ex became a screaming mimi. At the time, I knew I shouldn’t be spending money. A lot of times, I felt guilty after my binge. Yet, I never returned anything. Interestingly, despite, the guilt I didn’t believe I had a problem because I could justify every purchase I made. I felt I deserved everything I bought. I didn’t even mind when my ex was screaming at me or questioning the purchases I made. I just knew I was finally getting noticed and getting his attention.
Another revelation was how I handled conflict. (This one I am still working to perfect.) Instead of voicing my opinion or saying what I felt, I would shut down totally. Nothing could persuade me to talk. My mind would continuously go over and over each scenario till I became so angry I wanted to scream. Even though, within a couple of hours or the by the next day, I thought I was ‘over it,’ something little would set me off. I would end up screaming obscenities, throwing insults at everyone and going off the deep end. I felt like Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde. Of course, I didn’t take responsibility but blamed each outburst on having PMS. To smooth over the angst everyone else felt, I half heartedly apologized. Regardless, the outbursts became more frequent and more intense.
My first thought as I write? What the f**k kind of person was I? I would say, a pretty sick one, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Just admitting that makes my gut curdle as the feelings of inadequacy come flooding back.
It was only after I had been divorced for a couple of months that I had several revelations. I knew being on my own, I could no longer continue down the path I was on. So, instead of using my words to hurt, instead of resorting to silence and instead of screaming at the top of my lungs, I began to speak my mind. Talk about scary. Speaking up meant my family and friends might take offense. Speaking up meant I may not be liked or even loved anymore. Speaking up meant…OH GOD, it meant I would have to take responsibility for my actions instead of blaming others and my hormones! And it meant, I would have to step up to the plate and be honest, regardless of how the person on the other end reacted. But guess what happened?
My kids began expressing themselves. The words “I’m sorry” meant something. I wasn’t as frustrated or anxious or angry. Due to the man pausing in my body, what I have nicknamed menopause, I still get moody once in a while. Nevertheless, I now open my mouth and talk about it. As a result, I rarely go to what I refer to as ‘the dark side.’
Granted, I am human which means I still have days where the old me creeps in, taking over. Thankfully, due to the taming I have instituted, the old me is no longer a raging lunatic.
So what’s the point of all this rambling and confessing?
To give a word of advice:
After a breakup, a separation, a divorce, don’t rush head long into finding someone to replace the love you believed would never end. Take time to discover the person residing within. Take time to mend the broken heart so it has a chance to really heal. Take time to be alone, with just yourself. Take time to figure out why and forgive not only the person you were with but also yourself. Just take time…
After all is said and done, I can say, I am thoroughly enjoying my time, as a single gal, with me, myself and I.
I am enjoying the peacefulness of my life. I am enjoying not having to constantly explain myself or why I took longer than usual getting home. I am enjoying not having to compromise. I am enjoying going on trips and stopping whenever I want. I am enjoying eating when I want and whatever I want. I am enjoying occasionally drinking beer or wine without being told I am an alcoholic. I am enjoying farting and burping so loud I, my adult sons cringe as they say, “MOM!!!!!” Of course that makes me giggle cause I feel like the queen of bodily noises. I am enjoying changing into flannel pajamas, knowing I don’t have to impress anyone. I am enjoying being me without binge shopping, verbal abusing or playing the ‘silent game’ card.
Unfortunately, the culture we live in is not super accepting of those of us who choose to lead the life of singleness. In my wildest nightmares, I never imagined being divorced. But, often life interrupts the best laid plans, making us rethink the path we are on.
Despite life, I have learned the most important lesson of all. I, me, and myself are enough. And the over abundance of peace, contentment and happiness that have emerged are the decorations adorning my soul, my spirit and my life.
So the question remains. One I asked myself every once in a while. Will I remain single for the rest of my life? Only time will tell. One thing I know for sure, either in another relationship or on my own, I will be fine. For I am rewriting my story, wholeheartedly, no excuses, no apologies, no shame, with vulnerability, with courage and with love. As a result, I am living an authentic life being authentically me. And it feels terrific!!