I don’t know a single person who has gone through a divorce and thought it pleasurable. Divorce is tough, ugly, and acrimonious — it pretty much sucks. But if you look closely enough, I’ll bet you can find many great things that emerged from your divorce. I know I can. And when I think about it and remind myself of the positives, thriving from my divorce seems a more accurate description of my experience (sort of). Hey, at least I learned to laugh again and have fun!
So I picked my ten favorite things about my divorce. It actually wasn’t that hard. Consider making your own list.
1. It ended.
Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” This quote ran through my mind countless times during my marriage. In fact, I once posted it on my Facebook page. None of my friends really knew what I meant by it (I hid the abuse going on in my home from almost everyone), but I did. I was living in hell and I knew I needed to keep moving or I would stay right there. It’s been a tough battle to finalize the divorce but at least it’s over. I no longer need to live in a constant battle zone.
2. The whole bed is mine.
When my husband and I split, I spent several nights sleeping nearly sidewise on the bed. I wanted the whole dang thing to myself and it felt fabulous. No more sharing. It was all mine, mine, MINE. It was symbolically powerful.
3. Purging the ugly stuff.
I got to get rid of all the stuff I hated. Like the ugly framed print that was hanging in the loft. And the tacky Christmas ornaments? They’ll never hang on my tree again. No more doing his laundry and putting away his work pants that were always too short and wrinkled because I refused to iron them anymore and he was too lazy to do it. His ugly brown leather couch? Gone. Everything I own now is clean, fresh and pretty. It doesn’t look or smell like him. I love it.
4. No more fighting or compromising.
All of a sudden, instead of fighting over everything from vacation plans to walking the dogs, it was done. Bed times, cleanliness, vacations, food in the fridge, noise levels — my home, my way. What a nice switch.
My marriage was extremely high conflict. I literally never knew from one moment to the next if a huge argument would erupt in a haze of too much alcohol. It was unimaginable hell. When we separated, the realization that I no longer had to walk on eggshells was exhilarating. At times, I was almost giddy. While the divorce got ugly, at least he couldn’t scream in my face anymore. It meant everything.
6. Living in truth.
Oftentimes we hide the nature of our marriages from others. At least that was true for me. Most everyone my husband and I knew thought we were a happy couple. I hid our reality in shame and embarrassment. It was exhausting. When we split, it was a relief to live in truth. I no longer had to pretend to be something I wasn’t. I decided to open my life and blog. Everything is now out there for anyone to read. This approach isn’t for everyone but it works for me.
7. Emotional healing.
After my marriage ended, the healing began and it was high time that it did. I’ll never be completely healed. But I’ve survived it and I’m doing really well. Had I stayed married, I’d still be sustaining more wounds. Lots of retail therapy, self-help books and vacations helped, as did meditation and the love of family and friends. I had really bad days but it got better and better. The important thing was to be nice and forgiving of myself and to give it time. They say that time heals all wounds. It’s true.
8. Physical strength.
In addition to my emotional well-being, I started working on building up my physical strength too. That meant a new workout routine and a new pledge to eat healthier and take my vitamins. In the initial aftermath of my split, I could hardly eat because of the stress. I dropped a lot of weight (which was kind of cool). But once I started eating again, I used it as a starting point for changing up my whole look — clothes, hair, makeup. A whole new me. Stronger and better. More resilient, tough, and fearless.
9. Rediscovering what passion meant.
When I was married, I was watching a TV show of two teens who were madly crushing on each other. Finally they connected and shared their first kiss. I started sobbing. I wanted to feel that excitement and I didn’t think it would ever happen for me again. I was married and I didn’t like my husband very much — I was stuck, stuck, stuck. Fast forward to the new single me. When I was ready, I started dating again. I finally met a guy I really liked and when we kissed for the first time, I felt like the teens on the TV show. I got the butterflies and fireworks!
10. Bonding with my girls.
Divorce was hard on my two daughters, but we emerged from the divorce experience with a closer relationship than ever. We cried together. We hugged a lot. I allowed them to be angry and talk it through. I was as close to them as they let me, but I gave them space when they asked for it, too. On weekends, I implemented mommy-daughter slumber parties where we watched movies until late at night and slept together in my bed. No doubt that the transition wasn’t easy but we did the best we could. At least they aren’t being raised in an abusive environment anymore and in the long run, the divorce is far better for them and they know it.
I feel a bit like the phoenix who has emerged from the ashes. A little tarnished and imperfect, but a survivor nonetheless.