At the very beginning of my divorce, a good friend who happened to be divorced himself told me, “Everyone should experience a divorce once.”
I looked at him baffled. “You’re kidding, right?” I exclaimed. He insisted I hear him out.
He told me, “You may think it’s absurd now, but you will see what I mean. You will learn things about yourself and about others. You will learn how to appreciate the other person in your life more. You will relearn things you thought you already knew and your perspective will change.”
As the years passed, I remembered his words. How true they rang!
Divorce will benchmark many of your life’s future challenges. I now look at things like, “Well hell, if I can get through a divorce I can get through just about anything.” It does that for you, but it also makes you realize that there is always a brighter tomorrow, life does go on… and it really does only get better.
I didn’t always feel this way. At first I didn’t ever think my life would be normal again. I didn’t think I would ever feel joy when all I could feel was sorrow and sadness for myself and my two children. I was now on the dark side. I had somehow crossed over. My children were now of divorced parents. I no longer filed my tax return as “married filing joint,” I had to get used to saying the “D” word.
At first, there was something about admitting I was divorced that bothered me. I would cringe at checking the “divorced” box on those marital status questions when filling out any kind of medical history at the doctor’s office. It was like confiding that I was someone who didn’t know how to work out relational problems with others. I felt like that one word just said it all, divorcee (i.e. relationship loser). I could tell that even my widowed friends hated being confused for someone that was divorced. There seemed to be this unspoken stigma about being divorced even in this day and age.
Prior to my divorce I held a very narrow view of divorced people. When I was married, I equated them to a different class, the them’s and the us’s. I think a lot of married people who have never been divorced do subconsciously segregate people based on their relationship status. When I was married and everything was good, I didn’t understand why people couldn’t just work out their problems.
I later learned to embrace my new found marital status and change my view of divorcees. I found that there is an immediate bond shared by people who have been divorced. They are able to recognize what stage you are at in recovery quicker than others. They know your pain. People who have been through it (to hell and back) know that divorce is something you survive. They have an acute homing device that says, “Ah, there’s one in trouble now.” Suddenly the people who I thought needed to learn the most about relating were now my superhero mentors for survival.
Even though I feel I learned more of life’s lessons than any legitimate university could have ever taught me, going through a divorce is a lot like enrolling in a crash course on emotional survival at the School of Hard Knocks. The difference is there is no grade at the end and you don’t have to pay tuition to attend. There is no instructor, no classroom, and no rules. There are definitely no rules. There are occasional tutors and other students in this lesson with which to share notes, but overall you are on your own for the final exam in life. There are no professors holding office hours to guide you. If you are confused and in need of help you can explore your misunderstandings with a professional therapist.
Divorce opened my eyes spiritually, but the number one thing I learned after my divorce is that I have more to learn…
Visit Tomi at livewelldivorce.com.