If life was a passport, you could say that there are moments in it that serve as the stamps in our book: Birth, Baptism, First Holy Communion, Sweet Sixteen, Graduation, College, First Drunken Episode, First Heart Break, First Sexual Experience (don’t let your parents see that stamp!), First Kiss, Engagement, Wedding, Babies, etc. Well, divorce is but another stamp. Just like not everyone has been to the same countries, not everyone will have this stamp in their Life Passport.
When I look back at my divorce, I find that though it was heart wrenching and I couldn’t believe it was happening, I knew deep within me that it was for the best. Once we got past the separation period, I never once said, “Damn, I wish we weren’t doing this.” When people saw me sad around holidays, my birthday, or special occasions meant to be shared by two people, it wasn’t because I was sad about HIM not being there, it was just that I was sad for not having someone.
Your WILL TO SUCCEED can get you through anything.
As I watch others go through divorces now and note their reactions to circumstances, their bitterness or delight, their deceitful lies or peaceful partings, it makes me reflect on that time in my life and why I handled it the way I did. Compared to so many, I was young- 24. I had a 2 1/2 year old and a 9 month old, bills to pay, and a masters program to get enrolled in. I didn’t know HOW I was going to do any of it, but I was going to- my children deserved a better life. I wanted them to see that though circumstances might not always be perfect, your will to succeed could get you through anything. Anytime I needed to respond to a situation, I reacted knowing that my children would be watching. Maybe not so much by my son, but my daughter is a keen observer and takes in everything around her…my emotions and reactions included!
Of course they saw me when I was sad and have seen me cry on a number of occasions, but when they ask, “Why are you sad, Mommy?” I respond that it is okay for people to be sad. It is okay to cry when you need to because holding back on your emotions doesn’t make you stronger, but facing your feelings does! Anyone can sweep their emotions under a carpet, choke them back, or ignore them, but what does that do to you on the inside? I’ve tried it and all it did was make me miserable. Once I faced them and acknowledged them, I was able to get over them and move on.
“….just because her Mommy and Daddy no longer loved each other, it didn’t mean they didn’t love her.”
My children have never heard me badmouth my ex or his family. They have never been deprived of visitation with them either. I include him in every aspect of their lives- from parent teacher conferences and school functions to holidays and special occasions. For the sake of my children, I’ve hosted Christmas Eve POST DIVORCE just to keep the tradition going of the the eve being celebrated with his family. Any decision I’ve ever made during and after my divorce has been made with my children’s best interest in mind. Just this morning my daughter came to me and said, “Remember the girl that was making fun of me this year? Her parents are going through a divorce and she asked me why her parents didn’t love her, that she was afraid she’d never see her Daddy and stuff. I told her that just because her mommy and daddy no longer loved each other, it didn’t mean they didn’t love her! Mom, you always tell us how much you and Dad love us and we know. We get to see Daddy a lot and you even let us sleep over our step mom’s house! Daddy isn’t missing anything.”
THAT made me proud. I try so hard to give them a balance of things and to know that they aren’t feeling deprived or regret anything I’ve done for them…well it is the best feeling in the world. Of course certain things sting and it is hard to let go of them at times, but I do it for them. I can’t be selfish (all the time).
So for those of you that are going through divorce, here are a few pieces of advice from me:
- If you act with your children’s best interest at heart, your decisions will never be wrong.
- “Staying together for the kids” is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. If you don’t love each other, are dating other people, are fighting or some mix of these things, you staying together “for the kids” is doing NOTHING for them. They are learning how to lie, manipulate, hide emotions, and run away from challenges.
- Understand why you are getting a divorce. Does that make sense to you? If not, it will at some point. Think about it. What has happened in your marriage? What has happened to you? Knowing the grounds for your divorce and understanding it is half the battle. Is this something you can work through? Do you want to work it through? Have you simply just grown apart? If you are leading two separate lives, you probably know the answer.
- Know that “divorce” does not equate to “failure.” We try things. We fail. We get up and keep trying until we find what works. I’m not saying to get up and repeatedly marry people, but working on yourself and your relationships is what you should do. Refusing to get up and grow after your divorce is what makes you a failure.
- Always tell your children how much they are loved. Keep the lines of communication open. Listen to them.
- While divorce is the end of a marriage, it is the start of new chapters in your life. If you brought children in to this world, God bless you! This is the opportunity for you to take on new adventures and journeys with your children. Enjoy every new and raw emotion, thought, and experience- good or bad!
- Let go. You can’t hold on to pieces of the past if you are ever going to move forward. Just like airlines charge for extra baggage, so does life. Empty the damn suitcase of the mind and heart, taking from it only what you need. Leave the rest behind and embark on your new journey. Moving forward with a lighter heart and mind is truly a freeing experience.
So open your passport- you are about to set sail on a new adventure in life.