I went into my divorce expecting the worse: I was sure that I was in for months of heartache; I was sure I could expect years of loneliness; and I was sure that the experience was going to scar my children. It turns out I was wrong. Here are a few things I couldn’t have anticipated:
1. It’s not all heartache.
I knew divorce was going to be hard. I knew I was going to be scared and sad. I knew I could expect some anger. And I was right. There were days that were awful and nights when I didn’t sleep at all. But I hadn’t anticipated that even in the early days there would be room for laughter. I hadn’t expected moments of deep contentment or joy. I hadn’t expected the huge outpouring of love and support that came my way from family and friends and colleagues. There’s no doubt that it was a difficult time. But it wasn’t as bad as I expected it would be. (Things rarely are).
2. There’s more learning in a divorce than in a university degree
I spent a lot of years at university, but I swear that I learned more going through my divorce than I did getting either of my degrees. I kept coming back to the question, “What am I learning in this place?” Lots, it turns out. And not all of the things I learned about myself were flattering. But has that learning made a difference? Absolutely.
3. It’s not the divorce that messes kids up
I was certain that divorce would have a detrimental effect on my boys. There’s no doubt that it was difficult for them, particularly in the first year. But kids are remarkably resilient. And adults need to be flexible too. I know now that even when they’re divorced, parents can still behave like grown ups, treat one another respectfully, and make decisions together about what will be best for their children. It’s why I have coffee with my ex on a regular basis. (You wouldn’t believe the raised eyebrows we get when we run into old acquaintances at Starbucks).
4. Divorce opens new windows.
As I headed into my divorce, my goals were just to survive the experience and to protect my kids through the process. I didn’t expect that a divorce would leave me questioning all kinds of other things in my life. Am I happy in my work? Where do I want to be in five years? What does my heart long for? I ended up identifying all kinds of things that I wanted in my life and wanted to do with my life. And they’re happening.
5. One day there will be a line up.
In the dying days of my marriage, I couldn’t imagine ever loving again. I felt so worn down, so jaded, and so old. People would say to me, “You’re still young. You’re beautiful. When you’re ready, there will be men lined up at your door.” I honestly didn’t believe it. But a day came when I was ready, and when I was ready, the line up appeared. Granted, most of the men in the line up were completely unsuitable, but there they were, lined up, ready and willing to date me. And it turned out that in that line up, there were a few good men. And a few extra good ones.