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Healing through Divorce

Six and a half years ago I married a man who ruled my world. Though I wasn’t so naive to think everything would be perfect, the goodness in him was evident, and I knew he was the right choice for me. We had joint dreams, beliefs and interests, and with him I felt more joy than I had ever before.

I remember through our engagement when we would think and discuss our future we would say “we’re going to be awesome!” And we were! For a time.

But life got difficult and communication changed. We stopped being partners and became roommates. We still had great experiences and good times, but they were coming less often.

When I signed the divorce papers not too long ago, the man who had once been my best friend and held all my dreams for the future, was now little more than a stranger. A stranger with many years of history and baggage between us. I no longer recognized him.

But my purposes for writing about my divorce is not to dwell in the negative of what happened. Quite the opposite, I want to share some of the incredible thoughts and experiences I’ve had since.  

Though I didn’t ask for this trial and wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I can’t say that every aspect of it has been horrible. Ironically enough, in some ways I’m also happier than I’ve been for a long time. I know without a doubt that I’ve been blessed throughout all of this.

This process of healing & letting go has given me new realizations about myself and unexpected life benefits I’d never have anticipated.

Realizations:

I am stronger than I thought.

I’ve never seen myself as a strong person. Maybe it’s my lack of confidence or my tendency to be too hard on myself. Either way, though the divorce came quickly and unexpectedly, I’d pondered occasionally what I’d do if we did separate.

Let me tell you- my thoughts weren’t filled with rainbows and unicorns.

I didn't think I’d survive it.

And if I’m being honest, I stayed in a difficult relationship partly because I didn’t want to try to survive it. (There were many other reasons I stayed, but I’ll address those at a later time.)

I didn’t believe in my ability to work through the difficulties and find my sunshine again.

But you know what I’ve learned? I am a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for!

I’m learning that I CAN do this! I WILL get through this!

Everyday that passes is another testament that I am surviving what I’d thought would completely destroy me.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m getting through it. Better than I ever thought I would. And next time I’m faced with something difficult? Maybe I’ll trust my inner strength just a little more.

My faith in God is more sure.

I’ve never been the ultra-spiritual one in my family, but I’ve always held a knowledge of  God and my Savior. It was more of a quiet faith- I knew the truth in my heart and followed the principles I knew to be true, but I never felt the burning desire to dive head-first into His teachings.

When the “writing on the wall” became more and more apparent, and though I hoped and prayed it wouldn’t happen, I wondered what I’d do if it did. Would I abandon the God who seemingly abandoned me? Would I grow more lazy in my worship and tell myself He is to blame?

I didn’t know. I’ve never really been very good at imagining the hypotheticals. But when I was being honest with myself, I feared that would be my reaction.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the opposite. When I found my marriage, the thing that I treasured and held so dear, crumbling at my feet, I was devastated. I was frustrated and confused and hurt. God was supposed to protect me from this pain, wasn’t He?  This is the time I would’ve thought I’d be lashing out in anger and frustration.

But you know what happened? I felt my Father in Heaven wrap his loving arms around me, and I felt not only safe, but empowered.

I could do this! I would survive this! I would get through this! And not only would I eventually return to who I used to be, but I’d come out on top! I’d be better than I started!

That feeling was life changing for me. I didn’t need to lash out, because He was right there with me. So though things didn’t work out for me the way I wanted, I know He has a plan for me that right now I don’t understand. And for now, that’s enough.

The “Silver Lining”:

Let me preface this section by saying that I didn’t want this divorce. This is not something I sought out or wished for.

But since I’m choosing to try and see the good instead of focusing on the bad (a feat for me, trust me!) when I sit down and think about it, there are some definite blessings I have received as a result of this change in my life.

I won’t list them all, because there have been many. I can definitely see God’s guiding hand in my life. But here are a few I feel some of you can relate to.

Relationship with God

Before the divorce, I’d been lazy in my worship and in my study. I didn’t always make the choices I knew were right, and I let myself be ruled by complacency rather than spirituality.

This has given me a new drive to move forward with what I know to be true and right. I no longer believe that I can skate by with minimal effort. That’s no longer enough for me. I’m grateful for this “kick in the pants” so to speak, though yes, I do wish I’d have been open & willing to listen another way.

Closer to Family

I’ve always been a family-oriented girl. I love my family. I am beyond blessed to have been born into one that is supportive and loving. I see evidence all around me of those who have not been so lucky, and it saddens me.

It was extremely difficult when I moved away from these people I loved so deeply. I felt that at the time it was right for my family, and I still believe it was. But it was hard. It was difficult to miss the everyday events, my niece and nephew’s play, the day my nephews won their little league championship. I missed a lot, but I knew I was building a future for my family, and that was enough.

After the divorce I moved back home. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back! To be so close to the people that I know love and care for me. To be showered with affection and appreciation and positivity. It has been a boon to my soul, and I am immensely grateful.

I don’t know how I ever left them, and I don’t know if I’d do it again. But for now, I’m so blessed and treasure the time with them.

Focus on Me

This one is a little good along with a little not-so good. It’s necessary for me, but a constant reminder of the person missing from my life.

Being on my own again after being a girlfriend/fiance/wife for 7 years has given me a chance to focus on nobody but myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a “strengthen myself” kind of way.

I’ve needed this for so long, but the day-to-day living always seemed to come first. Focusing on my job, taking care of the house, meeting his needs.

I’m not saying I never had the opportunity to take the time to re-evaluate my own needs, but I certainly never took it. Other things always seemed more important, more pressing.

Now? I’m taking it. I’m allowing myself to take the time I need to really discover who I am now. Because I’ve changed a lot in the last 7 years, and I need to address that.

It’s been beautiful to re-discover some forgotten strengths, to gracefully take note of the things I need to work on. Rather than beating myself up, I am loving myself for who I am right now, as well making plans to become the person I want to be.

How I’m Healing

Divorce quite often comes with a lot of pain, no matter what circumstances preclude it. Mine sure did. And I’ve learned that without coming to terms with and working through that pain, I’ll never be ready for what comes next.

So I’m working on healing! How do I go about it?

Family

As you can probably imagine from reading above, spending a lot of quality time has been more beneficial than I ever could have hoped for. Being fully surrounded by love on a constant basis has given my soul much needed nourishment.

It helps to have people in my life who have been where I am and can help me process what I’m going through. I can talk through my emotions and they are validated and acknowledged.

I’m staying with my sister right now, and being in her home has been inspiring. The way she (and her husband) love and teach their children is inspiring. The sweet good morning and night hugs from my nieces and nephews fill my heart.

God

I’ve mentioned a few things above about how increasing my spirituality has helped me heal, but I’ll tell you another.

I’ve allowed myself to forgive and have hope. Not completely mind you. I’m human! But I’m working on it. I’m not filled with contempt and hate the way I’d worried I would be. I’m not destroyed with depression and worry.

I know these feelings of peace and love are coming from above, because I’m not strong enough to have them myself!

Self care & lots of grace

I am normally so hard on myself. I beat myself up over the things I don’t do, the qualities I don’t have and the mistakes I make. Normally.

But right now? I’m trying very hard not to. And surprisingly, I’m mostly succeeding. It’s strange though- at a time when I thought I’d be the most difficult of all, I’ve felt a peace and direction I’ve never had.

I am where I need to be. It’s hard to accept right now, when my life is in such disarray. But this is where I need to be to receive the blessings and life that is coming.

So right now? I’m giving myself lots of grace. Forgiving myself when it’s needed and allowing me to take things slow. For my normally quick/get things done personalty, this is really something! Slow isn’t how I work. But right now?

Let me give you an example. I’m finding it hard to focus on a single task right now. My thoughts start drifting and memories take over, sadness/grief/loss sets in and the task goes forgotten. Normally I’d get so frustrated with myself for “wasting time.” But really? Who can blame me? So I give myself grace (my version of a personal hug to myself) and pick the task back up how and when I can.

I’ll get there eventually. I’ll return to my ultra-productive get-things-done self. Mostly. But honestly? I wouldn’t mind if this new “forgive myself” attitude remained.

Keeping Busy & building ministry

I’ve spoken a ton about myself and my own experiences-- but this section is about you!

I’ve been wanting to build and grow this blog for a long time, and even took some major steps to get it going before the news hit. But ever since it has, I’ve felt a major shift in what I want to share with you.

I want to be less focused on getting “more” done, and more focused on helping you determine what’s most important in your life. It does no good to get 30 things checked off your list if none of them are helping you be the person you want to be. I want you to be intentional about what you’re choosing to spend your time on, rather than just solving whatever emergency happens to come up.

Why does this matter? Because this divorce has taught me that “someday” may never come. There’s a lot we said we would “someday” do or change or fix. And our “someday”, as a couple, will never come. And I’m grieving that, but I don’t want your someday to never come. I want you to accomplish the things you want for yourself. I want you to focus your very limited time on the things that matter.

So what does this have to do with how I’m healing? Everything, actually. A year ago I didn’t know my purpose. I had no direction. My life was stagnant. I wasn’t progressing.

Now? I know this is where I need to be. So I’m building my ministry. I’m going to share with you the things I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned and what has helped me grow. I’m hoping that by doing this I can help you avoid some possible pitfalls and give you some tools that have helped me along the way.  And that’s healing to me? Extremely so.

I hope you don’t mind me being so open and honest with you. That’s my goal: to be as transparent as possible so that you can see how what I’ve experienced has influenced and changed me into who I am. Because that’s how I can help you. I’ve lived through things that have taught me how to value my time, how to organize my life in an intentional way, and how to respect and care for myself- because really, I’m the only me I’ve got!

It’s been an (almost) unbearably difficult few months, but each day that passes feels like a victory. One more day. I survived one more day. And I’ll keep surviving, each day after that. Because I’m not alone, I have more strength than I ever thought, and I have a ministry to fulfill!

How about you? How do you look for the good, even when it's difficult? Share in the comments below.

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