Top 5 Things I Learned From Divorce

It has been just over a year since my ex and I split, and three months since the divorce was finalized.  As I sit in my cozy new apartment, I’m thinking over this past year on my own.  Quite frankly, I’m amazed at what this year has brought to me!  When “our” door closed for the last time behind me last year, I was more lost, alone, scared, and heartbroken than I knew one person was capable of being.  Distance and time have given me the perspective to realize that my healing process began right in that moment of hurt.  I couldn’t see it then, but our split (and subsequent divorce) has been one of the biggest blessings in my entire life.  As I worked through the hurt surrounding them, as I let the healing process do its thing, I began to learn incredible lessons; I became a lot older and wiser during this past year!

A friend asked me for the “Top 5” things that I learned over this past year, so I wanted to share them with you.

(1) Single and alone and lonely are three different things.
I am finally in a place in my life to understand that being single doesn’t mean that a person is lonely or that they are necessarily looking for a relationship.  Being single can also be a choice that a person makes, whether for a season of life or for their entire life, and it’s perfectly normal and acceptable!  Think about all the awesome things that single people can do because we don’t have to check in with someone else!  It’s kind of the best thing ever.  I’m not saying that I will spend forever living the single life (maybe I will, who knows!), but for right now, I’m loving it.  I get lonely some days, and I miss the companionship that a relationship brings, but I have the perspective to recognize that I’m lonely because I’m lonely, I’m not lonely because I’m single.
 

(2) You learn a lot about yourself when you reach the end of your rope, or when you get backed into a corner. 
I was living a pretty comfortable and normal life while I was married.  Bills were always paid, two paychecks came in with regularity, and my life was headed somewhere.  When I was first out on my own, panic set in.  I was completely lost, and I didn’t know even the first thing about starting my life over from scratch.  Thankfully, Google, my mom, and the private Trash the Dress Facebook group all exist, and between those three sources, I was able to start figuring it out.  
In the year since the split, I have learned how resilient I am.  People often say “I can’t imagine doing what you’re doing” or “I wouldn’t be able to handle getting divorced”.  You know what?  I didn’t think I could do it either, but I did, and I am!  You don’t know what you’re truly capable of until you have no other choice.  Then you can be pretty damn amazing.  It took losing everything I thought I had to show me that.  It’s not fun to go outside your comfort zone…that’s why they call it a comfort zone!  But when you get outside that, and you are truly uncomfortable, you prove to yourself that you can do just about anything.  I’m no longer afraid of anything life throws my way, because I know I can survive whatever is coming for me!

(3) It’s important to know what refreshes your spirit, and it’s important to do it regularly. Check in with yourself every day.
Oh, my friends, please figure this one out and do it.  It is indescribably important!  
The number one thing that refreshes me is Jesus.  I find that spending even a few minutes a day reading my Bible and/or praying brings me back to center.  Life gets so hectic sometimes, and Jesus is the rock upon which my life is built.  Everything else may fail me; my husband can leave, my friends can stop talking to me, I could get fired from my job, my finances can be a mess…but Jesus will never change and never abandon me.  I am blessed by the fact that my church family has been incredibly supportive through this entire divorce process.  To know that there are so many people who care about me and who pray for me on a regular basis?  That is a blessing and a miracle!
The second thing that refreshes me is writing.  I find that I don’t know what I truly think about anything until I wrestle with it enough to put it into words.  That’s how I process things!  If I’m feeling particularly angsty, an afternoon writing a blog post or journaling is certain to pull me out of the funk.  
 
(4) Each of us is broken in different ways, and there is beauty to be found in that.  Kintsugi means “golden joinery” in Japanese. It’s a pottery practice where broken pieces are repaired with gold; the idea behind it is that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken, because it has a history.
This is one of my literal favorite things; ever since I read about it, I look for it in the people I know in my daily life.  I choose to look for the beauty that comes out of brokenness.  
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A bowl that is whole and perfect can be beautiful, but a bowl that has been broken and repaired with gold is unique, interesting, and priceless.  I choose to believe that I am more beautiful because I have been so broken.

(5) Forgiveness is impossible on your own terms. If there are terms, it isn’t forgiveness.
Ah, the kicker, and the hardest one.  I have not fully forgiven my ex yet, though I promise I am trying.  It’s something that I have to choose to do daily, because those hurts sneak back up on me, and I start to get angry about it.  I have to remind myself to forgive him; by not doing it, the only person I’m hurting is myself!  I know that the only way to be truly free of him and the hold he had/has on me is to forgive him.  Forgiveness is hard because there are no pre-requisites for it.  I can’t say, “I’ll forgive him if he apologizes or tries to make things right.”  If I have conditions on it, I’m not really forgiving him!  Forgiveness is me giving up my “right” to hold a grudge.  It doesn’t mean I forget what happened or condone what happened.  It means that I say, “This is what happened.  Even though you did all of these things to me, I am not going to feel resentment about it anymore.  I’m giving up my ‘right’ to blame you for these things.  I forgive you.”
Divorce kind of feels like the end of the world.  It’s the end of the life you had planned, the end of an important relationship, etc.  In fact, it often feels like mourning the death of a loved one.  But there are some days when you are able to step back and realize that your divorce is also the beginning of so many new and wonderful things!  For me, it has been a springboard into a life I never thought I would have.  I am a completely different person than I was a year ago, and I love who I am today.  I know that this journey is far from over, but instead of worrying about where it’s taking me, I’m learning to enjoy the ride!
xo

How To Be On Your Own.

I’m writing this blog for myself as well as for all of you. I want to explore the loneliness and depression that can follow after a failed marriage. I was going to write this blog a while ago, as I knew it was something a lot of us had struggled with, but to be honest I found it really difficult. How could I help others until I had helped myself? How could I give any advice until I followed it? And how could I conquer loneliness?

Starting with the most obvious- get a pet! Cats and dogs make amazing companions. Dogs can contribute to a massive improvement in their owner’s depression. They bring companionship, physical touch and make you feel wanted/needed. Exercise is a great mood lifter and the added routine of dog walking can be greatly beneficial. There is also improved socialisation through meeting other dog walkers. Dogs can be a proven aid to panic attack sufferers and you know what? Dogs can be really really funny! And what’s better than something that makes you laugh?

And cats. How cute are cats?! Cats are just so bloody cute. Why look at cute Internet cat pictures when you can have the real thing? If you work a lot and a dog doesn’t fit your lifestyle then cats are a great option. They don’t make much mess, don’t need walking and are mostly up for just sleeping and getting occasional cuddles……..I think maybe I used to be a cat in a former life.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet please please go to your local rescue centres and give an unwanted pet a home. There’s plenty of lonely animals as well as lonely people in this world.image

Routine, routine, routine! Yup. Get yourself in to a good routine. They say it helps for kids and you know what? We’re just bigger kids. Join a club and go every week! Arrange a cinema/film night with friends. Join the gym and go. Plan how you will spend your week so you know when you will be alone and when you will be around other people. If you’re like me, you struggle to spend anytime alone. Then, you could aim to alternate nights of going out/seeing friends with staying home alone. Plan what you will do on that alone time with rough times if needed:  6:00 p.m. – make dinner, 6:30 p.m.- eat dinner, 7:00 p.m.- clean up, 7:30 p.m.- watch a chick flick (or if you’re like me it will just alternate between Twilight, Pulp Fiction, Human Traffic and Donnie Darko), 8:30 p.m.- eat an entire bar of chocolate…….
9:30 p.m.- take a nice, relaxing bubble bath, 10:00 p.m.- speak to online friends and get ready for bed. This is just a rough idea to get you thinking about planning on how to spend your time. I panic a lot; the thought of being alone scares me. So this way, I can think about how the time will be spent and make it pass easier.

If you’re on the oppersite side of the scale and you’re struggling to go out at all, then aim to go out and plan something to do at least once a week!image

Healthy eating and exercise.  I really can’t expand enough on how important eating the right food and getting plenty of exercise can influence your mood. If you’re eating properly, your sugar and hormone levels will all be much better and provide increased energy to enjoy life. You don’t want to be lethargic and depressed! I’m not saying cut out chocolate and weekly takeaway because you definitely deserve the treats! Just think about making healthy choices and eat food that will help. Here’s a link to some food directly linked to helping with depression on Natural News.
Exercise was probably something that helped me the most when I was feeling down. Getting to the gym most days was great for focusing my mind on something, socializing and also great for realising anger! As well as trying to keep myself in shape and improving my self confidence, of course.

Conquering bad thoughts. It can be extreamly upsetting and tiring going over the same thoughts in your head that can be associated with getting a divorce. I think you know what I’m talking about. Self doubt. This does nothing for your self esteem. If you find yourself sitting there thinking of reasons why you are on your own, ‘Did I do this or that wrong?’, ‘Was I too needy?,’ or ‘Was I just a rubbish wife?,’  ‘Could I have been better?,’ etc. then I suggest for every down-on-yourself thought you have, add two positive affirmations of yourself. For example, ‘I should have been a better wife’ should be followed in your head with ‘I’m really funny and I make people laugh.’ Try and do your own version of this remind yourself why you are awesome! For me the big one is, ‘No one will ever love me’ but at least I know I can say ‘I’m a really loving person and I have my so much to give.’ Become aware of your thought processing and take control of it.image

If you’re really struggling with depression, then go and see your doctor. There is absolutely no reason to feel ashamed. You know you have been happy before and trust me you can be happy again, it’s just sometimes people need a bit of help on their way. It’s up to you if you want to take medication. There’s no right or wrong answer, its just personal choice. But counseling is a great therapy and I don’t know many people who wouldn’t recommend trying it even for a short time period. Sometimes an impartial ear is all it takes. Counselling is not about giving you answers or someone else telling you what you should or shouldn’t do, it’s about someone completely non judgemental helping you in a confidential environment. It’s about omeone to listening to you and helping you to go through your thoughts and come to your own conclusions about things that may be causing you some trouble in life.

These are just a few ideas I thought might be helpful. Hope you find something that works for you. Remember you will be happy again.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”


Today we have a special guest blog from Trash the Dress private online support group member, Cynthia.

 

Sometimes I find myself lost in this feeling of being overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with the knowledge and the assurance that I am where I’m supposed to be, and everything happens for a reason. I don’t know why I am where I am, and it’s not easy to be here.

But I am so thankful.

Thankful for the interactions with people that allow me to speak the truth into their hurt beings. I speak these truths with total conviction, because I believe them. I believe them with everything in me.

I believe that being married to the sake of being married is detrimental to the soul. I believe that relationships in life are a two-way street and it doesn’t matter what one does, if that relationship is one-sided it won’t work and it will rob you both of your lives.

I believe that you cannot control other’s choices, and you cannot allow other’s choices to control you.

I believe that even though it hurts, and even when it seems like constant pain is inevitable…. there is an end, and there are better days coming.

I know that this experience does not define my character and my life, but what I do with this experience is the foundation of my life moving forward.

I look forward to each day, even the dark ones because I’m living my reality and not wasting time on a life that I never really had. I still stumble, but these days I can get back on my feet on my own and I smile while I dust myself off.

I’ve always been a “planner.” My dad often quoted John Lennon to me saying, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans”. That statement rings no more true in my life than now. This experience in life has allowed me to let go of the negative connotations that comes with a life of plans, and I’m able to enjoy each day for what it is. I am not afraid of the unknown – I can’t wait to see the surprises life brings. I no longer grieve for the future I planned, I am open to the future that my life has planned. I am along for the ride, and intend to enjoy it.

365 Days

Its amazing the impact that 365 days can have on you. To think about it, 365 days doesn’t seem like all that much when we live life focusing on getting through the day to day. Yet to others 365 days can be the difference between life and death. Life and death, whether it be emotional or physical is exactly where these past 365 days teetered me. Yet I’m alive, well, and have life abundantly.

I was turning 23- it seemed to be another day as most birthdays are- but I struggled to fight the battle for the familial interaction I always desperately yearned. I was married to a man who didn’t know the meaning of a gift and believed that love and gifts should be given year round, not just on some corporately dictated day. That would be fantastic if he meant it, or if he had known what love was. I didn’t need a tangible gift, or lack thereof, for me to know who I was to him.

I was another year older, and another year more in the grasp of some miserable life I thought I deserved. Every year, I would buy myself something around my birthday and tell everyone he had got it for me, just so that I could continue to persuade others into our false fairy tale.

Little did anyone know that I would go home and fight and argue to simply spend my birthday with my family. I would be given restrictions, of how long we could spend with them of what I could and could not share with them… My life was dictated to me, every moment of every day. I would fight my case, until it wasn’t worth fighting anymore and I would give in. Even on the one day a year when it’s okay to be selfish, that wasn’t the case for me. It was just like every other day, I was simply a supporting role in his life. Until he had something to prove, then I’d be this amazing woman who still went home and got broken and beaten down every night.

In these 365 days, I faced the facts. The lies were brought to light, and my life was given back to me. Moment by moment, I slowly grabbed onto my life again- making decisions myself, doing what I wanted to do-and moment by moment brought me closer to the last day of that life. To some it may signify a broken failure, but to me it meant that I had finally allowed myself to see the truth in the surrounding lies. I ran and never looked back. I did something for me, a purely selfish decision for both my dog and I. And the months continued to pass, and hour by hour it made it easier to accept my new life.

I am now 24. A divorcee. I’ve learned to appreciate every single moment that life gives you. To appreciate the sunsets and the sunrises that take your breath away. Never to look at yourself like a failure, but to instead take life and learn from it. Because every day is new. You have baggage, but it’s the kind of baggage that says, “I’m not going to accept anything less than I deserve.” It’s the kind of baggage that says, “I’m strong enough to walk away from abuse.” It’s the kind of baggage that gives you the chance to live the life you want. Go back to school, rediscover those hobbies you weren’t allowed to embrace, wear those jeans he hated, eat those foods he told you would make you fat. Get your voice back, form opinions and speak them. You are allowed to be you. This is YOUR life, to be defined by no one but you.