When I was in the middle of unraveling a marriage and working through a divorce, I never once thought, “One day I will celebrate this.” As a matter of fact, selling the house we remodeled down to the studs, and liquidating and dividing our assets was a low point for us. We each had to move in to our own apartments, and our two boys had to share a room and divide their time between us in these new, not as desirable, living quarters.
It was a major down grade of amenities for both of us. Combined we made a great income and supported a beautiful home, and apart we just got by. During this time I had to say to people “I’m getting a divorce.” I felt so much shame in those words, like they signified my biggest failure in life. I was not able to “make it work.”
It was in this little apartment that I found my self. I learned to deal with tantrums in a calm voice. Mostly so I would not disturb the family above me that was so kind to rent to a mom with two young, rambunctious boys. I stopped drinking wine that once was my crutch to release the stress of the day. I found my new escape to be the view outside and sitting by the window in thought, even in prayer.
I learned to recycle. I planted flowers outside my door. I watched a You Tube video and learned to fill the battery fluid in my car. I took my kids on adventurous outings all by myself. I grew my sense of independence and self worth. I learned that I could do anything, and I did not need to have a man. I decided to reinvent myself and be the person I wanted to be. I learned to love by learning from my life experiences. I learned to let things go.
It took a year for my ex and I to complete the dissolution paperwork on our own. There were upsets and fights along the way. We learned to only meet in public places and to deal with our emotions in a more calm way. We learned that we both were scared for the well being of our children, and our paperwork was a tribute to them. Every compromise and decisions was based on what would be best for them.
We got through it. When we filed we were able to support each other in court that day knowing we both agreed on everything. This is still in effect today in our interactions with each other. There is no fighting; we already did the hard work. Now we are on the same side, co-parenting our kids.
A divorce is not something you can hold as a secret. It is usually something you find out about someone within 5 minutes of meeting. I recently saw an old friend from grade school, and she referred to her two divorces and two “failed marriages.” This really made me think. Was my marriage really a failure? Did I put 13 years in only fail at it?
I may have felt that way early on. But now that I am through it, and the pain of our unraveling a life together is in the past, I feel like I can celebrate all those years as beneficial to my life. It was not a failure, it was 13 years of life. We came together for the reason of producing two wonderful children. In the process we learned that we were not a match. No fault to him, no fault to me. We didn’t know that there is certain criteria needed for a lifelong, loving relationship. We did not have the guidance or the tools to know this, or the ability to create it from the trenches we were in.
Because I lived that experience I was able to go forward with new criteria for marriage. I am re-married now and I chose him with a list of criteria that he met with flying colors. There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel loved by him, and gratitude that I had the courage to move on and get to have a new loving experience.
My ex moved on as well, and his girlfriend is wonderful. I see that she is able to communicate with him in ways that I never could. We celebrate Birthdays together as one big awkward extended family, and share a bleacher at all their games. Our children benefit from this dramatically.
My kids do not have parents that “made it work,” and suffer the feelings of resentment and anger. Instead, they have two sets of parents that model what a loving relationship can be. My boys are blessed to have more love in their lives than ever. They have a huge extended family that even includes older step-sisters who love to spoil them and a little nephew that worships them. Both of my kids are well adjusted. They both have good grades in school and are active in sports. They have a bigger cheering section than most kids at these events, and they are very proud of that.
Out of the ashes of divorce a new kind of family blossomed. For this I say it is time we celebrate divorce and put the shame aside. It is a hard thing to do, but know that there is so much good to come from it. When I met one of my dear friends for the first time way back then, and told her I was going through a divorce, she said to me “I’m sorry, and congratulations.” Obviously she knew what she was talking about.