I always feel like I have to explain to people that getting divorced was a good thing. Over the last couple years, I have found that the conversation would often go like this:
- Me: I got divorced two and a half years ago.
- Them: <insert pity face here> Oh, I’m so sorry.
- Me: Don’t be! It was the best thing I ever did!
People who have not gone through a divorce don’t seem to understand that it’s not always a bad thing. Sure, the actual process of going through it is a giant pain in the ass, it can be obscenely expensive, and it’s completely emotionally exhausting, but it’s also freeing, and helps you learn things about yourself that you never would have otherwise.
First, some background. I had never been happy in my marriage. I knew even before the wedding that it wasn’t the right relationship for me. But I was young (26) and dumb, and too embarrassed to call it off. So on with the show we went.
Fast forward to nearly three years later, and I was at the end of my rope. There were many factors that fed into my deciding to begin the divorce process. Over the course of the summer 2012, I left several times, only to come back – fooled by promises of change that never really meant anything. Eventually, there was that one event that was the final straw. Everyone who has gone through this process has that “ah ha” moment – mine was the night before our third wedding anniversary. In that moment, I finally found the courage and strength to stand up for myself and say “I want a divorce.” and mean it with all my heart.
In that moment, I felt instantly better. Yes, now the world was upside down and there were a million unknowns to worry about, but I felt so relieved to finally be taking steps in that direction. The next several months were frustrating, and our divorce was one of the more amicable ones. I can’t even imagine if it hadn’t been. But even through all that frustration, I knew it was the right thing to do. Neither of us was happy, so why continue like that?
Does getting divorced suck? Absolutely. Even in the most amicable of situations. There’s something terrifying and sad about losing the life you thought you were going to have. But in that loss, whole other worlds of possibilities appear. It’s in this transition that I learned who I am, what I want for myself, what I want to give to others, and what I expect others to give to me. I also learned what I want and need in a healthy relationship, what I am willing to compromise on, and what I am absolutely not willing to compromise on. I learned how to actually date and get to know people. I learned how to take care of my physical and emotional health. I became a strong, and confident woman. I learned how to deal with toxic, angry people, and not let their anger and hatred infect my life. I developed excellent communication skills, and the ability to talk rationally and calmly through difficult situations. All of these were things that I never would have been able to do if it hadn’t been for my divorce.
I am sure that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone through all that. So even though it was emotionally and financially difficult, I can confidently say that it was one of the best things I ever did. Without forcing myself to jump off that cliff, I never would have learned any of these things. Instead, I would probably still be in that unhappy, frustrated, and resentful life – wishing for something different, but too afraid to make a change. Instead, I’m a happy, healthy, vibrant, confident woman living in a place I love, doing something I find exciting, surrounded by wonderful friends. I am so thankful for this life every single day, and I know I never would have ended up here if it hadn’t been for that fateful night when I finally said “I want a divorce.” and meant it.