For those of us who have been divorced, indubitably at one time or another, we turn the magnifying glass on ourselves and question our judgment. We scrutinize every move, every red flag missed, every sign we ignored. I [thought I] wanted something, I tried it, I gave it my best, and it didn’t work out [according to original plan]. It doesn’t really matter the reason – I thought “forever and always” and instead I got “until now.”
Divorce shakes up your life and reshapes us to move forward (sometimes a bit tainted). Some time during or after, we usually over hypothesize and eventually come up with a conclusion that releases ourselves from the stamp of FAILURE. Only then can we set our hearts free, allowing us to repair our wings and set flight on finding love again.
Blah, blah, blah – life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans and give peace a chance, but sometimes the hardest thing to accept is that your marriage wasn't a "mistake." It was what you wanted at the time and you did it. You didn’t always think of the repercussions of it not working out because, quite frankly, going into it, you romantically thought you were the type that was going to make it work no matter what.
But LIFE often kicks your plans in the ass and people change. People react differently during unexpected situations and adjust in different ways. People mature or people immature. They get dependent or interdependent. They ignore and they forget. They forget themselves in the US. They compromise themselves for the greater good. Sometimes it’s one-sided, other times it’s mutual. With billions of people come billions of combinations and billions of break up scenarios.
When you find yourself in a relationship where you realize you are NEVER happy, it does not make sense to continue to live this way. There is too much joy and beauty in this world and you don’t need to be married to enjoy it. (You don’t even need to have a partner.)
It’s when things get bad – when the relationship gets weak that it becomes fragile – it becomes more susceptible to temptation. You may feel powerless or sexless or ignored. You may feel taken for granted or confused or angry and someone will come along, smelling the aura of desperations. (Because we all put out signs, whether we know it or not – and the universe sees them and hears them – and responds.)
Often times marriages end because of infidelity, but other times marriages end because one of the people still has hope. My marriage ended because I made the decision to be happy. I had tried to make myself happy in the relationship for 3 years and I didn’t want to try to make it work anymore. I spent 3 painstaking years crying and miserable when my ex-husband asked me if I loved him, I really didn’t think I did. I thought I should – but I really didn’t. He was a good father, a good son – but he was not the man I fell in love with – and apparently I no longer wanted to be the woman he married.
But with a small child and all the other baggage that comes with a marriage I couldn’t see the forest beyond the trees. I saw branches and twigs and greenery and rotted oak. I just wanted clean – I wanted fresh – I so desperately wanted to be happy. I valued every day and I wanted to teach my son that each day is priceless. I wanted to teach him the importance of happiness. Mostly I didn’t want him to watch a loveless marriage.
When my ex-husband said he would be fine to sleep in separate bedrooms for the rest of our life because he didn’t want to get divorced, I realized that happiness was never going to be on his agenda. And that was not up for debate in my book.
Only later I realized that he existed in a silent depression; he bit his tongue as much as I did; he walked on just as many eggshells. We didn’t have fun; we didn’t laugh; we didn’t like each other. We co-existed because we signed a piece of paper that said we would do so.
There were threats, uncertainty and countless attempts at making it work again. We tried and then tried harder. We attempted to change – but after a while, there is so much rubbish and resentment built upon the foundation, the house crumbles. Ultimately, like anyone else who joins the club, there is the breaking point from where there is no going back.
We join the divorce club.
Divorced people meet other divorced people and find similarities – patterns in types of mismatched people. At first you liked his strength, and then it became controlling. At first he liked your outgoing personality but later he didn’t like your flirting. He promised you something in theory, but you wanted the reality.
After the initial euphoria wears off; after it doesn’t sting when his name calls up on the caller ID; after you've learned to be "just one." After all that, once again a time will come when you start to wonder. (Often times when we are at our most vulnerable, our imagination can be our best friend or our nastiest enemy.) Will I remain alone forever? Maybe I didn’t know what I had until I lost it? Will I ever feel love again?
Generally divorcees split up into two categories. There is the group who insists, “Oh yeah, THIS TIME I REALLY KNOW” (when it's time to move onto the next person) and then there’s the other group, those that carry a satchel of perpetual doubt. They exist in a paralyzed state of fear, worried of making Big Wrong Life Decision: Version 2.
When you start over in the pursuit of happily ever after, generally, you are a more bitter, wounded bird slowly merging into the skyway of love.
You will not trust yourself to pick a mate again. How do you learn to believe yourself when you were so wrong before? How do you know if this is the right one? How do you get back in that place that was so hard to climb out of? How do you risk diving off the new happiness platform in search of MORE?
When I joined the Divorce Club, I had branded myself as a relationship failure. Only now do I realize, that getting divorced was the best (and bravest) decision I made to steer my life to a place of happy. I didn’t want to spend my life alone. I wanted a partner with whom to share my life – and bear witness to his. Life’s terrain gets rocky and sometimes it’s easier to conquer when you’ve got someone in your corner.
I was lucky. I met someone early on; right when I realized I had made the best decision. I had resigned that it was over and my heart was not only open to love, but thirsting for it in such a passionate way. I met the best someone for Me. Someone who carried the best me out (no matter how heavy my soul felt) and quenched the longing for happiness that lay unfulfilled for so long. My someone fit my notion of happiness so well; he was like the puzzle piece that made the rest of me click into gear.
Going through the experience of marriage and divorce is like anything in life – it brings you experience – and from experience, comes skills and knowledge. Leading a successful life is just using lessons learned from life experience to make it better the next time around.