Divorce: 5 Years Later

Five years ago, I left my marriage and was setting out on a journey that would change me. After a month of sleeping on couches and carting around my clothes in the back of my car, I had just moved into my first apartment as a single woman. I had an amazing roommate, and despite the emotional turmoil my life was in, we were having the time of our lives.

I committed during that time to a couple of big, brave and scary things, like being kind to my ex (though that proved difficult at times) and forcing myself to really explore my emotions as I felt them. So if I felt sad, I’d allow myself to feel sad, and try to journal through why I was experiencing sadness in that moment.

I also committed, with the help of the amazing counselor I was seeing, to being open and receptive to my family, which was extraordinarily difficult, especially since my mother still wasn’t speaking to me at the time. Another big, scary, brave step.

In the meantime, however, I made a lot of terrible (but super fun, I'm not gonna lie) decisions. The paradox of my emotionally adult behavior clashed terribly with my incredibly immature life decisions, like, oh, sleeping with anything that had working limbs and/or their own apartment, or not necessarily paying my bills. (Because they look prettier IN the envelope, DUH.)

A friend who met me during that time said, “You were out to prove yourself to the world then.” And he was right...there was nothing quiet or subtle about who I was five years ago. I wanted to show everyone that I could do it on my own, without help, and without a husband.

I think the good emotional decisions I made then have shaped me into the person I am today. I think the horrible decisions I made also shaped me into the person I am today. And while in some ways, I still feel marked by the scar of divorce, I am grateful for the training it gave me for life.

I still care too much. I know this. I should shrug off hurt and other people’s opinions and negativity and keep marching through life. But I wonder, who is the stronger person? The one who doesn’t care and moves on, or the one who cares too much and moves on anyway? Maybe this is something else divorce taught me...that caring makes us human, that our scars can knit into a pattern of wholeness, and that our decisions, good or bad, can shape us into better versions of ourselves.

So, five years later, I am grateful. I truly am. I am grateful that I learned to feel. I am grateful that since then I’ve learned that quiet assertiveness can be just as powerful as loud pronunciations of independence.

And I’m grateful that unbinding myself from a unit taught me to be a unit on my own. No more believing that someday someone will complete me. Instead, I know that all I can hope for is to be a whole person myself, and if I happen to meet another whole person and we love each other in that wholeness?