5 Things I Learned About Myself Because of My Divorce
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My journey through divorce, although quite amicable, has been one of the most difficult occurrences of my life. The daily struggle to cope with various, often difficult to explain emotions, was exhausting. It continues to be exhausting. However, here are a few things I learned about my self that provide a bright light to my future.
I Learned How to be More Resourceful
Having a husband to solve all your issues was wonderful. I would simply say “this needs to be done” and he would do it (eventually, even if it was a year later). I never had to search for help outside of that. Now, that I am divorced, it’s a different story. My ex brought my car in for maintenance recently (he’s a decent guy) and they said brakes needed to be changed. The dealership (my car is a lease) wanted to charge me about $1,000 for front and back brakes. If the money were coming out of my husband’s pocket, I would so okay do it. However, now that I am responsible for my own expenses, I said “Hell no” and started asking around. Found a friend to do it for me for free. Boom! F*ck you Lexus! This reminded me of how resourceful I could be. There’s always someone that knows someone that knows something. You just have to ask around!
I Learned How to be More Independent
Being married almost 10 years, I became quite dependent on my ex-husband. Financially, I depended on his income to support our family. I depended on many other little things such as car servicing, paying bills, dealing with insurance, miscellaneous paperwork, vacation planning, etc. I depended on him emotionally to provide me with a sense of self-worth through affirmations. It was great because I didn’t have to deal with all these little things. I was able to focus on the home, the care of our children, family randomness, and my education. We had certain gender roles, which made our day to day lives more effective. However, because he took over all these aspects of life, I never had to learn to do these things on my own.
Now, that I am officially divorced, I am forced to learn how to “adult”; how to pay bills, make necessary phone calls, how to basically do everything on my own. As difficult as this has all been, it’s empowering knowing that I can do it on my own (with some guidance of course).
But, tax season is coming up and guess who’s freaking about doing her own taxes?! Yup, me! I’ve never had to do my own taxes before!!!! This shall be another learning experience that I may or may not be looking forward to.
I Learned How to Find Myself Again
I met my ex-husband at a very young age (barely 16). I was just figuring out who I was and boom engaged at 16, married at 18, kids at 23. When you think about it, I never had a chance to be myself, without anyone else. In addition, the little bit of myself that I had discovered early on was soon enmeshed in the unity of marriage and parenting. I never felt like an individual. I never lived on my own, never paid my own bills, never worked because it was absolutely necessary, never had people depend solely on me, the list goes on.
Towards the end of my marriage, I decided to seek therapy, both individual and couple’s therapy. During my individual therapy sessions, I attempted to find myself. The main question was always:
Who am I?
The answer was: I am a daughter. I am a wife. I am a mother. That’s pretty much all I could come up with.I was always a part of a relationship, never a single entity. I had no set career, I was still working on my school, I wasn’t employed, and had few friendships. I was lost. It was difficult for me to accept that my life had never really been my own. My life revolved around my children and my husband.
After announcing my desire to divorce, re-evaluating it a million times, and taking steps towards separation, I slowly began to find myself. I moved out of our home and into a town-home with our dog and two daughters. I spoke with an attorney. I found a job and quickly began working.
I had to re-design my entire life, now as a single mother. It was then that I realized how strong I really am and how much I am capable of accomplishing.
I Was Reminded Of The Things That Are Truly Important to Me
As a married stay at home mom, I sometimes got caught up with daily chores, the mom life, the housewife life. I focused on little things that I now look back at and had little significance in my life. Having a tidy home, for example, is not at all important to me and pretty much impossible now. I work, I take classes, I blog, I have kids, I work-out, cook, and sleep. My house is a mess 90% of the time and I have accepted that. I rather take my girls on a Dunkin’ Donuts date than clean the playroom because I know they need my undivided attention more than my house needs tidying.
I realized that the beautiful landscaping that I spent so much time and energy on, doesn’t matter. Having perfect grades in my classes, although is still important, I no longer stress about a missed assignment or a B on a quiz. I half-ass some assignments because I rather spend a little extra time at the park with my kids.
My priorities have shifted. I have accepted that my life is not and will not be perfect. I realized that the most important thing is my children, who need me more than ever given this recent transition. The second most important thing is me, which leads to the next point.
I Learned How to Focus on Myself and My Personal Goals
As a newly divorced single mom, I finally gave myself permission to be selfish and self-centered without feeling any guilt. To some, this may sound really shitty. I focus on my own inner-peace, my own needs, my own desires, my own health, and well-being. I prioritize myself above all else (besides my kids of course). I was never able to do that as a married woman, even when dating my ex-boyfriend. My time was never truly mine. Even when I was separated and dating, I had to explain my need for alone time. My need to stay home, drink wine, take a bath, and watch crappy tv had to be justified.
I can now take time and focus on my own life because if I don’t take care of myself who will? I can now focus on my own personal goals. My career has been brought back to focus. My goals are more focused and they’re more like needs than simply wants. For example, I need to make a decent amount of money in order to support myself and my children. I now need to take time for myself because if I don’t I know I will break-down or get sick and then who’s gonna take care of things?
One book that has made a huge difference in my outlook on life as a single divorced mom was the recently published The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children. This book actually inspired me to write this post as a means to help other single moms out there dealing with divorce and reinventing themselves.
My divorce has definitely been a major learning experience, in both good and bad ways. However, writing this post has reminded me of the good things that came from this difficult journey.
Another book that I recommend reading, whenever you are in crisis is Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue. I am in no way religious whatsoever. I was raised in the Catholic Church, yet seldom do I actually go to church. However, I am spiritual. I believe in something bigger than ourselves, yet I don’t believe in religion per se. This book has shed some light on life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It has given me a different perspective and hope. I would recommend this book to anyone!
Remember, you are never alone! I have to remind myself this every. single. day. If you ever need a high-five or just a listening ear. Reach out to me! I may be a busy woman, but I will respond with support =).