Keepin' it Real: I do...but I don't - Finding the Positive Side of Divorce

Ten years ago today, I walked down the aisle in a beautiful white dress to say 'I do'.  I wish I could say that I uttered those words while gazing into the eyes of the love of my life and we've been living happily ever after since.  But, nope.  Three short years later, we said 'I don't' and went our separate ways.  And I don't regret it one bit...

We all know the divorce rate in this country (and even around the world) is pretty depressing.  Most of us have either gone through our own divorce or know someone (or several someones!) that have gone through it at least once.  There are plenty of articles and websites out there to give advice on how to survive divorce, so I'm not planning on talking about that today.

I've been divorced for almost 7 years, so I don't even know if I can offer any current advice on that since it was so long ago for me!  But, despite the depressing statistics and even though divorce should always be the last resort, there is a positive side of divorce.

As I thought about the past 10 years - once it hit me that the 10th anniversary of my marriage was looming - I didn't think about the negative side of things, or spend any time regretting anything.  Instead, I looked back over everything that has happened in the past 10 years and...

...I'm just so eternally grateful for where I am now and how things have turned out.

So, I thought it might be nice to celebrate life after divorce since so many people might currently be in the depths of the really hard parts of ending a marriage.

The overriding message I hope you take from this if you're going through this now....it does get better.

In fact, it gets A LOT better!  

But, that's if you want it to.  As with everything in life, your own personal attitude and outlook have a lot to do with you how you recover from any difficult parts of life.  I tend to think I have a rather positive outlook and I don't tend to let things get me down.  I'm a fighter and a survivor!  I can thank a crappy marriage and divorce for showing me that side of myself.

Let me start off by saying, though, we're all different. How we deal with things and what we expect out of life is not going to be the same for everyone and you really can't compare yourself, your journey, or your expectations with anyone else.  That's just an exercise that will lead to nothing but feeling that you don't quite measure up.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Before I got married, I was never one of those girls that dreamed of a wedding and planned out my wedding day.  I honestly wasn't too concerned with whether I'd get married or not.  It didn't really matter to me, so when I did get engaged, I had a bit of a unfamiliar panic attack with the sudden realization of everything I had to do in order to plan a wedding!

Suddenly I envied those girls that had a wedding binder full of ripped out magazine pages tucked under their bed (this was in the days before Pinterest!).  But, I pulled it together, planned an awesome day and loved every minute of it!

But, when I divorced, because I was already pretty independent and I hadn't spent my life up to my wedding thinking a wedding/marriage was the end-all-be-all, it wasn't too hard for me to bounce back as my new single self (I know that's not the case for a lot of people, so I'm also grateful for that side of me...it made the transition a little bit easier).

Had I really listened to myself before I walked down the aisle, I probably would've heard a little voice that was saying 'don't do this!'  or 'run...as fast as you can in the other direction'. But, I was so busy planning everything that I didn't hear those voices at all and was quite looking forward to becoming a Mrs.

I'll skip all the juicy details of where and how and why everything went south.  Hey, it happened, but that's not really what I want to focus on today!

When the divorce was final, aside from breathing a HUGE sigh of relief, I was ready to move on with my life.  I loved having a happy home again, I loved having my own space, I loved doing my own thing!  (Seven years later and I STILL love all of that!)

So, what are my positive take aways from surviving divorce?

  • I'm strong
  • I'm independent
  • I'm not afraid to be on my own (but then again, I have never been afraid of that)
  • I can take care of myself
  • I won't put up with crap (I'm particularly proud of this one!)
  • When I'm with a man that treats me right...I recognize it and appreciate it more

In a nutshell...I'm more in control of my life and I fully enjoy my life!

If you're going through a divorce or the aftermaths of a recent split...

...give yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship, then LET IT GO.  

Nothing in your life will be improved by holding on to lingering resentments, anger, or bitterness.  Look back on your time with that person and figure out you how you can grow from the experience and then (and I know this will sound crazy) be grateful for the marriage and the loss of the marriage because it gave you the opportunity to become a better person.  Get out there and live the life that defines you as YOU (and only you can define that - take the time to figure out what that is!).

And the best advice I can give you (wait...didn't I say I wasn't going to give any advice!)...just be YOU for awhile.  There's no rush to get right back into something or you'll likely end up making similar mistakes (we'll all continue to make mistakes in life, but try to get to the point where you're not making the same mistakes!!).

So, for today, on my 10th wedding anniversary, I'm going to do whatever I want and love every minute of it!