By Jaclyn Schiff
Dear Pre-Divorce Self,
I so vividly remember where you're at -- the months leading up to a massive decision. You haven't taken it lightly and you'll agonize about what to do (keep working on the marriage or end it) until you actually do it: get divorced.
Making a decision after a long period of indecision will feel damn good. Soak it up; uncertainty is just around the corner. These next two years will be a time of growth, sadness, excitement, contentment and above all, transition.
But you have no idea what lies ahead. That is probably for the best. Ignorance will help you move forward.
Despite your best guesses, rationalizations and questioning, there's no way to understand the implications of ending a nine-year relationship until you do it and then feel it.
David Brooks explains that we are "fundamentally ignorant about many of the biggest choices of our lives and that it's not possible to make purely rational decisions." I hold onto that because it's the best way to explain that, despite all the stories we tell ourselves, we're just naive little freshmen when picking a route to the future.
What follows is some of what is yet to come -- passing thoughts, recurring feelings, new experiences. A dose of unvarnished, raw honesty. I mean, if I can't be real with you, then we're kind of screwed. But I choose not to be (screwed, that is), so here you have it:
- You'll beat yourself up for breaking the commitment of marriage.
- You'll be forced to confront your fear of being alone.
- You'll start to accept that maybe you will never find a true love. But it's a constant battle to envision a happy life without that.
- Dating is a roller coaster that comes with exhilarating highs and disappointing lows. You'll feel hopeless during some of those low moments.
- Almost every divorce has a bad person. You'll be challenged to accept that in the most surface way, you're the bad one.
- It will cost you way more money than it should (and you're gonna have a relatively cheap divorce, sweetie).
They say "being on your own" has perks. It does. Here's how:
- In hindsight, you'll recognize that getting divorced was one of your greatest fears. When you choose to do something you really wanted to avoid, you'll find that not much else truly scares you. You tried something huge, failed big and got back up. That boldness will spill over into other areas of your life.
- Dating and flirting can be a lot of fun and you're in for a wild and exciting ride. Dust that little black dress off!
- When you're married, you tended to socialize mostly with couples. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to meet like-minded single women (you'll be a little bummed too... I mean why are there so many awesome single ladies?).
- You will meet great people who will enrich your life.
- You'll reclaim some of the individual aspirations and interests that didn't easily fit within your partnership.
- Your mental toughness will improve. But your brain won't quite be ready to karate chop like a ninja.
You will wonder about your ex. Sigh.
- Will he ever want to be friends?
- You won't pine to be with him, but you'll miss things about him, about the relationship and the inside jokes.
- You'll want to know how being with someone new sheds light on the relationship he had with you.
- You won't fully understand why you wonder about the above.
- You will hope your ex sees you in some sort of positive light. But you will also sort of wish you didn't care.
- You will feel so sorry for hurting him and letting him down.
- The more he moves on, the more you will feel alone even though the two shouldn't have anything to do with each other.
Things that just are. Neither good nor bad. And not ugly either.
- Given the trauma of your relatively uncomplicated and simple divorce, you'll find it quite unbelievable that so many people face the pain of a broken marriage at some point in their lives.
- Moving on from an almost decade-long relationship is not a linear process. Some days/months, you'll be strong and happy. At other times, you'll get caught up thinking about the what ifs (and then you'll move on to the whatevs).
- It will take you almost two full years to get into the rhythm of life on your own terms. Seriously. Running an independent life is its own skill, especially for a serial monogamist like you.
- You'll have nights where you party hard. Much harder than you did in college (and you'll pay considerably more than when you were hungover at 21).
- You'll be surprised by the men you connect with. They're very different from the guys you paired with in your early 20s.
- The death of a very close relative will be made all that much more challenging as you go through it mostly alone -- without your ex who had a good understanding of what this person meant to you.
That's all I got for you, pre-divorce self. It's a mixed bag.
Two years in, there is still so much you won't know. What you will know is that this chapter hasn't concluded quite yet. You're still in it with more processing, forgiving and learning to do.
What you will come to know and what I do know is that you'll keep moving forward. It's the direction you like most.
With love and respect,
Your future self
This article originally appeared on YourTango.