I was a young bride…because at eighteen I knew it all and had snagged a guy who was just as smart. He was brown-skinned, athletic, boy-band hot, and cocky as hell — so yeah, he was perfect (at least in my immature little mind). Never mind the baggage…and oh, was there baggage.
Fast forward a decade and find me miserable, divorced, and so incredibly ashamed. I was low — like earthworms in the ground low. I lost my home, my dreams, my self-esteem, and so much weight on my already small frame. But what I gained was an amazing life. Sit back with me now and sample the sweet lemonade that came from my lemons. Here are five things I learned from divorce.
1. I wasn’t always right. I could tell you that my ex had issues, that he liked to break things, blame people, and sleep around. He could weave a story like the famed Aesop of ancient Greece. While I’d like to believe the divorce was entirely his doing, I have to accept that I wasn’t always right. I shut down, stopped talking/listening, and locked, boxed, and buried my affections. I’m talking seperate rooms, not just separate beds. When couples start keeping score, counting offenses and tallying her rights verses his wrongs, everyone loses.
2. Don’t let outsiders in. Most women have at least one friend who’s seen the tear-soaked tissues on her bedside table, the contents of her diary, and her biggest fashion blunders. It’s such a comfort to have friends who stand by us, share our passions, and understand our scars. But outside of polygamy, marriage is a two-person party. That means friends, family, and neighbors (no matter how we love them), have no place in the equation. On occasion, they may offer some sage advice to help us over the hurdles, but we ought to be careful not to give an outsider too much space in our homes.
3. Some people are here to teach us, not take care of us. I do not hate my ex. Hate is a personal poison, and I refuse to ingest it. I often hear divorced people recount their regrets.They say things like, “I wasted five years with that man/woman.” That’s foolishness, I think. It’s never a mistake to love anyone. Because love is as much a gift for the giver as it is for the recipient. Love makes the world shiny and shows us new shades of our dull lives. It’s a holiday for our hearts, complete with wrapped gifts and a catered buffet. So maybe you loved someone who stomped on your heart. I get that, and I’m sorry. I gave birth solo while my ex watched SportsCenter. I stirred gravy on the stove while he mixed it up at the bar, and then in our bed with another woman. I have so many stories and so many broken pieces, I could make a kaleidoscope of my suffering. Still, I don’t believe I wasted anything. Not love. Not time. Instead I gained strength and wisdom, and learned to trust my intuition.
4. You cannot change people. You can inspire, influence, even annoy the hell out of people, but you cannot change people without their consent. Don’t let that stop you from helping or nurturing someone in need. But know when enough is enough and when you’ve become an enabler. Walk away from people who take without giving or growing.
5. You cannot fathom what the future holds — for better or worse, so give this moment your full attention and appreciation. If you’re currently in pain, know that amazing things can arrive at any time. When your heart is open to life’s awesome gifts, a Christmas -morning kind of magic just happens. Believe that.