Hi, lovelies! So it’s been a long while since I brought you a SELF CARE post, and this one is a biggy…6 Things I Learnt from Getting Divorced. So make a cup of coffee and settle in…
I met my ex-husband when I was 23 years old. At the time I had the typical early 20’s view of myself – I was all grown up and knew what was good for me. In short, I thought I knew myself. I had dated two other guys before and they had both cheated on me and hadn’t treated me very well. So when this shy, sweet guy came along I was happy for a change in my “type”.
We dated for 5 years and I thought I was in love. Of those 5 years we spent four living together. And I thought I new the nature of our relationship. So when he asked me to “be his wife” the obvious choice for me at the time was to say yes. We had the most beautiful wedding with friends and family. And I was really happy, until I wasn’t…
That’s when things changed
After our magical wedding, we were husband and wife. And the first few months were great. It felt like our old relationship “just better”. However in my happy “honeymoon phase” I didn’t notice the subtle changes in his behaviour and mine. Over the next 2 years, things got worse. My ex became increasingly obsessed with video games to the point of addiction, we became more and more distant from each other physically and emotionally. I began putting on weight, I stopped caring about my appearance, I quit my job to “start my own thing” (which I never did because my self-worth was at an all-time low), I began pushing my friends from before my relationship away and in truth, I lost myself.
Around a year after I quit my job I got offered a great job at a massive retail corporate. I gladly took the job as it was a great opportunity. But after a year of staying home and letting myself go, working in an environment like that one with all the stylish self-assured business women, did one thing. It highlighted how little I loved myself. At that moment I decided to start working on myself. I bought new clothes, started playing around with make-up and tried my best to start dieting. I also reached out to my old friends and started making time to meet up with them for a drink after work or to brunch on the weekend. And I started making new friends at work. I felt like I was finally finding myself.
Not everyone wants you to find yourself
Growth in the wrong eyes can seem like the person has changed. And this supposed change didn’t sit well with my ex. Things became increasingly tense at home. And the figurative distance between us made me feel like I was living with a housemate (I didn’t like) rather than a husband. I felt so incredibly lonely in my marriage. And for the first time realised how truly unhappy I was. His response to my unhappiness was an increase in emotional abuse. I will never know if it was intentional or not but the truth is I experienced it and it was awful.
I felt like I was going completely crazy, and I was questioning every and all of my decisions. So I made the decision to seek professional help, to clear my thoughts and make sense of my feelings. I learnt so much by speaking to someone completely removed from the situation. Like the root of my feelings, possible explanations for my ex’s behaviour and importantly, I was not imagining it and I was not going crazy.
I spent a total of 4 months in therapy before I grew the courage to file for divorce. The process was by no means pleasant but when it was all done, I felt a freedom I cannot explain. I felt like I was given my life back, I could finally be the person I was beginning to love. I was able to really evaluate my life and love it. And even though I was physically alone, I felt more complete and happier than ever before. I was ME!
So I want to share with you the things I learnt from this experience…
The 6 Things I Learnt from Getting Divorced:
1. Asking for help is ok!
It’s also incredibly important for your mental health. Sometimes an outside perspective can help you to articulate what you are feeling and help you to feel like you are not alone.
2. Learn to be honest with yourself.
And don’t be scared of other people’s judgement. If you are honest with yourself you will learn to know what’s best for you and who you want to be.
3. You cannot make everyone happy.
The only person you have to live with forever is yourself so make sure you make yourself happy first. You will never ever be happy in a relationship if you are not happy with yourself.
4. Dealing with confrontation with dignity is powerful.
Divorce is hard and people are bound to get hurt, but keep your head up and deal with the situation with dignity. Make sure that at the end of it all you can be proud of how you got through.
5. Learn to be honest with your partner.
Be honest about your needs, expectations and boundaries. Most importantly stand for what you believe in. Stand up for yourself. Arguing with a partner on occasion is not a bad thing. It shows that you are passionate about your views and if dealt with correctly (i.e. mature conversation) it can help you both to grow. If you are in a relationship and you never ever disagree, why is that? Is one of you making sacrifices in your beliefs, views or opinions? Because that ain’t good either.
6. Marriage is about RESPECT
The old saying goes “marriage is about compromise” and for me, that isn’t true. Compromise means sacrifice and I don’t believe you should sacrifice an aspect of your life and who you are for another person. They should complement your life in a good way. And that is why I want to rephrase the statement, “marriage is about RESPECT”. If you respect each other everything else comes naturally…love, kindness, compromise and growth.
I believe getting a divorce is the best thing I ever decided to do for myself. And I am so grateful to all the people who supported me through the process! And I am happy to report that I am in a great relationship now with love and respect. Life is good, it wasn’t always but it is now. And that’s is the biggest lesson…things get better when you make decisions based on protecting your energy!
Much love my lovelies!
P.S: I did a lot of reading during this process. Mostly books that would help me learn to be me and improve my self-worth. This book by Regena Thomashauer was key to my growth and getting my feminity back. I highly recommend giving it a read.