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.  
unnamed

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

Love is Patient

They say time heals all wounds, and it’s true, but some wounds take longer to heal than others. There’s no shame in taking longer to move on than you’d like, and there’s no shame in mourning a dream you’ve lost. Divorce isn’t easy, but just like the paperwork, it’s a process. Maybe you’re not where you want to be, or where you ever imagined, but maybe that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be. Maybe we go through the things we do so that we become the people we are meant to be…..and I have to say, I’m pretty proud of who I’ve become. I hate the circumstances and the man that put me here, but I know what I’m made of and it’s worth far more than he can ever hope to be.

Remember, love is patient and love is kind, so love and be kind to yourself!

Here are some things I try to remember every day:

dontgiveup

miss

moveon

judge

 

The Facebook Divorce Facelift

Ten years ago this wouldn’t have been a problem. But you’ve been Facebook official for years. If you’re me, you’ve been Facebook official pretty much as long as you’ve been on Facebook. Your first kiss is there, trips, pets, families, engagement, and yes, oh god, the wedding photos are all there. Dregs from the past, and a cloud raining all over your “moving on” parade. So before you go completely off the grid, throw your computer out the window, and let people think you ran off with a U2 cover band….

There are five key things we’re faced with.  But don’t worry, we’re gonna get through it. Right here. Right now.

#1. The Relationship Status.

#2. Photos

#3. Mutual friends

#4. The Blockage

#5. Questions or Comments?

Let’s dive right in.

#1. The Relationship Status

Do you want it to be publicly known and seen that you are now “separated,” do you want to just jump to “divorced” or forget that, you’re “single?”

Ok, I know your head’s already swimming. More good news? You don’t have to decide right now. Just made that relationship status private:

Click on your name in the upper right corner to come to your main page. There’s a button that says “UPDATE INFO” right below your cover photo on the right hand side. Click it. Scroll down and under the “BASIC INFO” heading hit “EDIT.” Next to your relationship status, hit the little lock meaning PRIVATE.

And you’re set!

Then when you decide to put “separated,” “divorced” or “thank god he’s gone” (don’t you wish that was an option?) there isn’t a notification to all your bazillion friends saying “please comfort and pity me.” If you’re anything like me, you want pity from specific people, not the greater public at large.

Here’s another thing. Maybe you DO want your Facebook to say you’re “separated” or “single” but you don’t want the notification in your feed. Just make the switch while private, then make unprivate. Voila! New information, no notification. See how I did that? With the rhyming?

And if you want the world to know, to shout it from the mountain tops. Then, heck, go for it. You are a stronger woman than me, so I applaud you! I’ll definitely be there to comment and say so.

#2. Photos.

This is rough. I know. So here’s the deal. For me, it was hard to even look at things. And I definitely wanted my Facebook to reflect my new life and my new, empowered self. I didn’t want to feature profile photos from a girl I no longer was! So, the options are, of course, to delete. I didn’t have the strength (yet), but what you CAN do, is make all albums that feature the outings, the house, the pets, etc. private. And deal with it later. But at least every time you log on or check photos, they’re not staring you in the face. I forget they’re even there. I should probably go delete those…

Another thing, photos that were added by OTHERS. If you don’t want those coming up either, simply untag yourself. It can be a bit tedious, but it may be better for your sanity not to see your STBX popping up all over the place. They say pictures are worth a thousand words.  I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like what those photos were saying.

I’ll play devil’s advocate. I see the validity in leaving things as they are. In saying “that’s my life, I don’t want to hide it” and I support and admire that. We each have our own journeys and needs. Most importantly, ask yourself what you need. What is healthy and good for you, and do that. If you need to keep things as they are because that’s best, if you need to put things away for a time and decide later, or if you need to delete and never look back—all of these are valid. And I support you.

#3. Mutual Friends.

Oh, it’s sticky, isn’t it? And I’m using this in the “Facebook” connotation. Meaning: his family, his friends, and the poor soul he’s now shtooping.

My approach was this: Of course, I loved his family. And many of his friends. But I knew if I started to see photos of him and his family, or him and his friends, it would only hurt me. And since you have to learn to be #1 to yourself again, I knew they had to go.

It felt okay because I had already spoken to his some of his family (sisters-in-law, or father-in-law never said a word to me again) and I believed they would understand.

As for the friends… Obviously the ones I knew were an even split, I kept, the others who were his, I let go. It’s a hard thing. But it really does come down to what’s best for you. I didn’t want to fight over people. I also didn’t want to put them through anything scarring. So, I left quietly for some, and stayed with others. Only you will know the right decision to make for you. And if you don’t know today, maybe you will tomorrow, or in a few weeks. And if you delete and regret, there’s nothing a little private message and friend request can’t fix.

However, I had no qualms about unfriending the bimbo, or blocking her. Which leads me to….

#4. The Blockage

No, I’m not talking about constipation. And I’m obviously not above poop jokes.

Should you block your ex, his friends, his family, and the bimbo?

You know what I’m going to say. Yep, it’s your call. Don’t you love the power?!

Maybe you’re wondering if I experienced blockage? You bet.

After hearing more than I wanted to hear in the week from hell, I couldn’t bear seeing what I didn’t want to see. I felt anxiety over dreading that someone my STBX knows might post a photo of them and he might look happy and I might feel terrible. Or he might comment on something on a mutual friend’s page and I would be in dialogue with him. Or, he might be checking up on me, and I had to make sure not to write anything sad, or he might think I was sad and he couldn’t think I was sad.

After I pulled myself out of the whirlpool of paranoia, I finally realized I didn’t have to put myself through that. At all. Ever again.

So, if you have more self control than me and don’t want to utilize blockage, I’ll mail you a cookie. But if you’re like me, save your sanity.

#5. Comments or Questions?

You can ask them below. What I mean is, after the first four steps, you’ve incurred some major changes to your Facebook page. This is the fifth and final element in your Facebook divorcee face-lift. You’ve made it! I knew you would.

So, here’s the thing. You might start getting some…”where’s your husband?”…”are you guys okay?”….And I hope they’re in private messages, I really do. If not, feel free to delete and private message the person directly and say, “hey, yes, I’m fine. We’re getting divorced. It’s okay. Don’t really need to discuss it.” Cause mostly these are the curious people. Because the people who matter already know.

So, for those comments and questions, be ready, come up with a dignified and neutral response. Here, you can even borrow mine:

“Hey, I really thank you for your concern. Yeah, (D-bag) and I are no longer together, but I’m doing really well. I’ve got a great support system and am really looking forward to all of the great things to come. Thanks again for asking, and see you around.”

That’s all. You don’t have to say:

“OMG! Yes! I’m AWFUL! He cheated on me with his best friend’s fiancé and now she’s moved across the country to be with him while he lives with his mother and works the same job he had and hated before we were married!”

You really don’t. Don’t say it. Say that to your friends over the phone where it’s never in print or seen by anyone.

It’s not lying. It’s just ’cause…you’re gonna be fine. You are fine. And you don’t need those people to remember you as that “girl who fell apart.” Because that’s not who you are. You are strong and you’ve already grown so much. I know it. If you need to get out the uglies, you can tell that to the people who matter, cause they’ll be there to see and help you build yourself up again. Like I know you will.

I wish you the best with your Facebook Divorce Facelift. Now, go put some new pictures up of you and your soul sistas looking fabulous and having fun. Then comment below and let me know how it all went.

-Lindsay B.