As with many of us, I went through a divorce. Last year I wrote a post with my reflections on what I learned through the process. But what I am realizing now is that the process never really ends. I just keep processing a little bit differently each year. It’s an evolution and I’m not sure where it will take me next. I guess that’s just how painful experiences work. The pain never really goes away, we just get to choose to ignore it or keep learning from it.
So I thought I would write a follow-up post about some of the things that I’ve learned 2 years post-divorce.
Sometimes I have to go through hard things alone.
I appreciated so much the way that my friends and family bonded around me when I was going through my divorce. It is a real test of friendship to see who stuck around when I was at my worst. With that said, once I was out of the life or death phase, there were many more subtle ups and downs that I experienced where I had to face some really hard stuff by myself.
This is most likely self-imposed, but there was also this sense that I used up a lot of my friendship capital and needed to give back for a while before cashing in again. Whether or not that was really true, I still tried to take the opportunity to teach myself to wrestle with my ghosts on my own. That is not to say at all that I do not need people. I desperately need my people. But there is something healthy about wrestling with your own thoughts and demons and coming to peace with a situation on your own. It’s a good habit to practice.
I still miss the people I lost in the casualties.
This one digs deep. Not a day goes by where I do not miss my in-laws, my nieces, friends, pets that were lost in the divorce. I guess I didn’t know what to expect, but this particular pain has not dulled. Maybe it never will. It’s one thing to have to give up a future with one other person, but to also have to give up a future with an entire family and community… it feels so unfair. All of those memories that I was planning on making. All of the things I wanted to teach my nieces. All of the things we were going to build. All of the camping, the nature, the conversations. The art, the travel, the holidays, the cooking, the laughing… Two years later, these thoughts don’t hurt any less than day 1.
The more self-sufficient I become, the harder it is to fit someone else in.
I’ve been on a lot of dates. I wouldn’t say that I’ve “dated” a lot of people and part of the reason for that is because, I really like my life. I have a routine, I enjoy my work, I am healthy, I am a creature of habit, I travel a lot. So I end up going on a lot of dates, but have a really hard time committing to someone to be in my life on a more permanent basis because I don’t want to give up the beautiful things that I enjoy now. For example, sometimes I am spontaneous and might decide to take off at 4pm on a Saturday to camp somewhere three hours away. (P.S. Simone never complains.)
As much as I want a partner to share my life with, it becomes harder as I get older to fit two people who have very set ways of life and awkwardly try to mesh them together. Neither one wants to give up the freedoms and luxuries of single life. Compromise becomes more challenging the more settled you are into the beautiful adventures that you get to experience every day.
I also had a wise friend once tell me that I didn’t go through the pain of a divorce to settle. So I am not planning to.
I am happy.
I hesitated to put this point in here, because I do not want to give the impression that I was unhappy in my marriage. That just wouldn’t be true. Every marriage has ups and downs, but my memories of mine are mostly positive. With that said, there were several very difficult years at the end where I felt like I was in a cloud of fog, desperately trying to merely exist.
I remember very vividly a couple of months after the divorce where I literally woke up one morning and realized for the first time in years that I was happy. I hadn’t felt that feeling for so long that I had almost forgotten it existed. It caught me completely by surprise. I thought for sure that I would end up an old jaded divorcée. But no. The world was bright and beautiful and once I came out of that fog to see it, there was nothing more magical in the world than that feeling.
When I want to do something, I can just do it.
The freedoms of being single are pretty awesome. I eventually do want in partner in life, but until then… man, I’m going to have no problem enjoying this. As mentioned earlier, I can be very spontaneous, and single life allows for that to be completely acceptable.
I bought tickets to Guatemala on a lunch break. I went to China to visit my parents. Sometimes I fly to Minnesota for a weekend. I often take off to camp randomly, even if it’s wayyyyy too cold to camp. (Simone rolls with it.) If it’s snowing outside, I immediately go play in it. I stay out late. Or go to bed at 8pm. Or eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Or forget to eat at all because I’m climbing a fucking mountain. And then run the whole way down because it’s fun and it feels like you are skiing on the sand and no, I don’t have to wait for anyone else to catch up.
It is a great feeling to not have to report to another person and literally just do whatever your heart desires. I plan on eating that up for a while.
Note: relationships are beautiful in a different way, I am in no way bashing them.
I still feel like life cheated me.
I am so grateful for who I am and how I have grown over the last several years. I am so much more at peace and have become a softer and a more loving person. Yet, every once and a while, I still get this pain that this is not what I signed up for. This is not the life I chose. It is not out of a dislike of my current life, I am actually incredibly grateful for where I am. But it’s the fact that I lost control, that I lost my power and this was what happened. I’m sure this is an emotion that I will continue to grapple with as the years go on.
I am a better person.
As I said in the above paragraph, I really am a better person. It’s unfortunate that this is how it is, but pain makes me better. There is nothing that will refine like fire. Sometimes I hope that my divorce was the most painful thing that I will have to ever go through and now it’s done and out of the way. But in reality, it probably isn’t the most painful thing. And that also means that I will probably become an ever better person after the next painful thing I experience. I hate the pain, but I also welcome it, because I’ve seen the results.