Five Things I Learned From Divorce

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.

24 Comments
  • Marci Smith
    February 21, 2016

    This is beautifully written. I also got married at 18 and learned a lot of lessons through my divorce, with a child. I wish you a bright future!

    • Rica Lewis
      February 21, 2016

      Thanks, Marci! Things are bright right now. I appreciate your kind words. 🙂

  • Celeste
    February 25, 2016

    Wow. This really resonated! #3 took me YEARS to come to terms with. Thank you for sharing. I wish I could have read this a few years ago 🙂

    • Rica Lewis
      February 25, 2016

      So glad you enjoyed it, Celeste! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Anna Palmer
    February 25, 2016

    Each of these are beautiful and true…none more so than #5. I was married young and divorced quickly and in middle age I know that so much of my happiness is due to that struggle.

    • Rica Lewis
      February 25, 2016

      Thanks so much for your kind with words, Anna! I wish you well.

  • Allison Hill
    February 25, 2016

    I have been divorced…..twice and the last lesson is my most favorite. You can never fathom what the future will hold. Hold on to that…..tomorrow is always another day. 🙂

  • Suzi T
    February 25, 2016

    I hope you eventually meet someone else and get the chance to start again.

    • Rica Lewis
      February 25, 2016

      Thank you, Suzi! I have met someone. It’s been worth the wait, too 😉

  • Liv
    April 21, 2016

    I love this post so much – I feel almost exactly the same way about my divorce. It was definitely a learning experience. And not one I regret.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Glad it resonated with you, Liv. Thanks so much for stopping in!

  • Faye
    May 17, 2016

    “You cannot change people” is the one that resonates most with me. It’s a long lesson to learn, but so very true. I would have saved myself a lot of heartache had I realized this truth earlier on.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 17, 2016

      Yes, it was a long lesson for me as well. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Faye!

  • Laurie
    May 17, 2016

    I know several divorced friends who could learn so much from your post. You’ve learned a lot in these years. And you’re right, its never a waste to love someone. Its all a lesson.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 17, 2016

      Thank you, Laurie. I appreciate your kind words.

  • Silly Mummy
    May 17, 2016

    I love this. All of these points are so true and wise, and such a balanced and positive way of looking at things.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 17, 2016

      Why thank you, Silly Mummy. What a lovely comment!!

  • Leanne
    May 17, 2016

    I love how balanced this is Rica – so many people become bitter and twisted from divorce – I love how you learned lessons from yours but came out of it with an overall positive response.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 18, 2016

      Thank you, Leanne. I guess I made some lemons 🙂

  • Rosemond
    May 18, 2016

    I can’t say true enough, especially the need to recognize what we’ve done wrong. It is so easy to blame our ex for everything without seeing our own part. The only way we are going to grow is to learn from what our part was in the demise of our marriage.
    Wonderful-sharing!

    • Rica Lewis
      May 18, 2016

      Thank you for that wonderful comment, Rosemond. I think the first sign of maturity is accepting our own mistakes. I am a mistake-making machine, so I have lots of “accepting” to do! ha ha.

  • Peggy
    June 11, 2016

    I recognize this. I was 19 and he and I were married for 19 years before it all imploded. there was a period of time when I did hate my ex and I was angry all the time but I got past that, realizing that I owned responsibility to the demise of our marriage as well. My ex taught me a lot about relationships, boundaries, forgiveness and letting go. This year I celebrate 10 years of a happy, healthy marriage and relationship with the love of my life and forever husband.

    • Rica Lewis
      June 11, 2016

      What a great story, Peggy! So glad you found your prince, even if you had to kiss a frog first! All the best and thanks so much for reading and sharing your story. ❤️

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