Since I started this blog, there has been an intense inner battle waging about if I should write about divorce. I know that those types of personal issues make for pretty juicy reading material, and just like the proverbial car wreck, it’s grotesquely fascinating to watch.
I’m not exactly going to take the plunge and dish out the down-and-dirty about my d-word. Instead, consider this a brief “what I have learned so far” entry. Call me old fashioned, but the more intimate details don’t need any airing out.
The first thing I learned from my divorce is that being physically separated from the other person and even contractually separated from a person doesn’t automatically correlate with your state of mind. Short version: It takes a while to mentally divorce someone. Though I know that I am divorced, it took a few months to realize that I had permission to be myself, support myself, and step out of the “married woman” mind set. There was no one to consult or ask opinions from. All of a sudden, I had to take ownership of my decisions.
Another thing that being divorced taught me is that there is no shame in starting over. Sometimes we fail at things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pick ourselves back up and find a new plan. Failure has always been one of my worst fears, and having just experienced that fear, I was devastated. I thought that all of the things I had always associated with failing were going to be just as painful as ending my marriage. I’m not going to discount the pain that I felt, because trust me. It was very real. However, my good friends and family did not desert me or shun me. Instead, I was encouraged to learn, grow, and start over.
Though I learned much more than three bullet points from this whole experience, I’ll cap it off with this last lesson, which was the hardest to learn. Actually, I think I’ll constantly be relearning it. Being alone made me realize that my opinion of myself needed to come from me, not other people. I could go into a long rant about social and cultural stigmas, which lead women to co-depend and base their value on what their partner/pop culture tells them. I could also try to lay blame with my ex, but that would be unfair. The fact is that I had previously based my self-esteem and self-image on what other people had told me. I don’t think that there is a way to completely separate from that, but now I can look at myself in the mirror and like myself, even the imperfections.
Thanks for sharing this, Jessica. I think the last lesson you learned is important for everyone to learn. It’s so hard, though, to value ourselves as we are, not because of how ‘valuable’ we are to someone else or because of what others think of us. It’s something that I’m struggling with, personally, because I know that if I don’t value me, then no one else will *really* value me the same way, BUT for whatever reason, that feels almost selfish to me, too. Maybe it’s a fine line? Anyway, I hope the summer goes great for you!