Somwhere in the past year and a half, I've become the Resident Expert on how to navigate a divorce. Mind you, I haven't been divorced that long. But I've been like a rocket ship when it comes to taking off and powering through it with momentum... or at least that is what I'm being told.
I've had dozens of friends tell me how amazingly strong they think I've been. Or how inspired they are by how much I've grown, healed and transcended what was a pretty traumatic experience. I am convinced that God or the Universe knows I need this constant validation more than anything because without it I would fall onto the floor like a five-year-old and start crying out my truth, "I'M A FRAUD. IT HURTS! GOD IT HURTS, AND IT'S STILL HARD!"
Because you know what... it hurts and it's still hard.
My friends who are contemplating divorce are scared. And they are looking to me to reassure them that it gets better. That the hurt will go away. That the heartache of not being with your children seven days a week will lessen. That you will somehow survive financially when you are accustomed to living on two incomes, or that it won't feel so lonely laying in bed at night with nobody to hold you. And it does. Little by little, it all gets easier and you do start to find peace and happiness and exciting possibilities again. You rediscover things you're passionate about. You reinvent yourself. You find an unbelievable drive and commitment to accomplishing dreams you put on the back burner when you were married.
And you also come crashing back down when the tiniest thing triggers the unhealed wounds that were created from the trauma of what you've been through.
I'm in it now, so I've had to dig deep to get myself through the crash and remind myself that this is an ongoing process, not a race with a finish line. Most of these words of wisdom have come from my closet friends in the past few days, so I want to acknowledge every one of them for their unwavering commitment to my sanity.
1) GOING THROUGH THE HIGHS AND THE LOWS IS A GIFT. Why? Because you are forced to examine. And examine. And examine. You are constantly having to examine yourself and your "stuff." It's the most rewarding and exhausting thing you will ever do next to raising children.
2) YOU LEARN TO SURRENDER . I don't do this well. And it's hurting me. But you learn. You learn to surrender to what is. You learn to surrender to what you can't control. You learn to surrender to the feelings you are experiencing and let them ride over you and pass. And they do pass.
3) DONT MAKE THINGS ABOUT YOU. It's almost never about YOU. Another person's judgement or decision to behave in ways that are sometimes disappointing and hurtful is never your fault as much as you'd like to take it on. It's my specialty. And it makes things ridiculously painful. Just don't do it.
4) BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. I didn't say I was patient with myself. I'm telling YOU, the reader, to be patient with yourself. I'll watch you and hopefully get inspired and maybe learn a thing or two. Because when you fall into a pit of despair over every little setback, it will set you back even further. Trust me, I have a lot of experience.
5) DON'T FEAR BEING VULNERABLE. You will feel vulnerable a lot and it can be scary to show that to people. When you start dating someone you actually feel something for, YOU WILL WANT TO RUN. You will feel so scared of getting hurt again, every cell in your body will scream "Run! It's easier to just run!" Don't. Try to have courage and invest in people truly deserving of you. It can be hard to discern who is truly deserving of your heart so take your time, but take the risk. Finding love again is worth it.
6) YOU WILL COME THROUGH THIS WITH NEW PERSPECTIVE. And it's the perspective and the learning that will give you the strength to deal with these moments with increasing ease and grace.