If divorce is a form of death, then why am I still living?
Sometimes I feel like an oddball when it comes to the topic of divorce. Not because my experience with divorce was easy or painless. And not because it didn't, then or now, have an impact on my children and their perspective on life. The truth is I still live with the constant reminder of how divorce can have a lasting toll on the lives of those involved. Yet, I feel that my response to my divorce was slightly different then what would be expected which is why I believe my life after divorce has been so incredible. My divorce gave me momentum to make this journey called life something I am proud to be on.
I remember when I was working as a civilian on a military post and had finally realized that the condition of my marriage was not one for me to remain in nor was it one for my children to grow in. As I began to live with this heartbreaking reality, I found people that I could trust and confide in to share this truth with. One of those individuals was an officer that worked in the same building on post where I worked.
One day we went out to lunch and she and I shared our current stories and struggles. She began to open up to me about her divorce experience. Her story was certainly full of pain and distress but one thing she said to me that resonated during our conversation was how she had been told that it would take 2 years to heal for every year she had been married. "Divorce is like death," she added. I instantly had a feeling of gloom and defeat regarding what was about to happen in my life.
Though I believe this statement may be true for some people, I was determined not to allow it to be true for me. The very thought of living 10 or more additional years with this heartbreak was itself heartbreaking. Although I had already heard it said before that divorce was like death, I couldn't help but to question this statement. If by death they mean grief that may be caused from permanent separation, then I agree but for someone who has a full life to live and dreams to fulfill, being hindered by the emotions after the divorce seemed more like the road to death.
So with the reality of a divorce ahead of me and a refusal to be a prisoner of grief guiding me, I allowed myself to begin the process of going through every emotion my heart and head needed to go through. I knew that if I was going to live a full life following my unfulfilled marriage, I would have to give myself grace to heal, however that may look.
Some days were better than others. Some days I cried often, others not at all. Some days I vented all day on the phone with loving and supportive friends or family and other days I didn't. I began to do things, just me and the kids, that I thought we would enjoy. We began to experiment and experience life and all its potentials while preparing as best as possible for the divorce. I just happen to believe that tears only last for a short time, then comes true joy. I wanted to do all my crying now so I could do all my smiling later. I began to look for an identity that I had somehow lost over the years and was determined to be proactive in my healing process rather than reactive.
As I lived, experienced, and healed, I learned a new truth that consumed the old lie I had been told. The D in divorce doesn't have to mean death, it can mean Dreams. Not just any kind of dreams, but big dreams. My divorce drove me to dream in ways I hadn't dreamed before. I found dreams, chased dreams and fulfilled dreams. I became a dreamer. It was through the fulfillment of these dreams that I found myself, my passion and my purpose.
So how do you create an experience where the D means Dream? My suggestion is to start off by going places you would never see yourself going. Then try new things you never thought you would be able to do. Dream bigger than you ever thought possible. Dream big for your kids and dream big for yourself. Let the divorce give you momentum to begin a story that will live on well beyond the chapter in your book called divorce.