About a year and a half ago, I published an article about finding love after divorce. And during these years often referred to as, “middle aged.” I wanted to share the possibilities with others. Others who might be wondering if they are ever going to be able to find that love they still long for. Because no one expects to be divorced. Not one of us. We hope to marry one time and hope that it will last forever. Happily ever after.
But when it doesn’t, it is as if life has smacked us in the face. Perhaps even laughing and taunting us with thoughts like, “fairytales aren’t real, silly!” If life could talk back to us, what would it say? There have been times that I have wondered if the universe has been sending me this message in many ways over the years.
I knew that things were not easy in life. I watched my parents do life together with everyday stresses about money and jobs and buying and selling homes. I am certainly not implying that it would be like Prince Charming and Cinderella. For me, the fairytale has always been a marriage like my parents have. They have been married for 51 years and not once have I ever thought of them in any other way but together. When I married at 23 years old, I looked forward to that comfort. Just knowing that I had someone to build a life with, and well, share that life together forever.
For many years, I was unnecessarily judgmental towards other women who had been divorced. Somewhere during my upbringing, I was led to believe that divorce was the lazy way out of a marriage. It was lazy to divorce instead of powering through your problems and making that marriage work. Making it work. I can tell you now that my attitude has changed.
You can’t make something out of nothing. You can’t make something work when it is broken. You can’t put something back together when you are missing pieces. And you certainly can’t do it alone. There comes a point where you have exhausted every measure and have to accept the fact that it can’t be fixed. Instead, the wound can heal with a scar called divorce.
Exhausting every measure is not lazy. Divorce is not lazy. It is brutal. Gut wrenchingly painful. It is traumatic, and that trauma does not always look like it is traumatic. Quiet voices behind closed doors can be as painful as a physical punch in the gut. Physical pain is one thing, but emotional pain is a whole different category. No, it is not lazy. And to whomever I have ever crossed paths with in my life who I may have mistakenly judged as taking the lazy way out, I am so very sorry. I didn’t know.
People should not pretend to know things they have no experience with. Educate yourself or keep to yourself please. If anyone has been divorced or is facing the option of divorce, you know. And I know too. I’m with you. I understand.
Divorce is expensive. It is full of legal business transactions that may or may not be amicable. And by amicable, I don’t mean to say that is easy either. Because amicable as it may be, there are often other little lives affected. Children go through divorce too. They don’t get to grow up with the fairytale ideal that I always had.
Divorce is messy. Every single piece of your lives get picked through. Everything you knew is no longer. It can bring depression. It can bring anxiety, even to the already anxious. It brings guilt. Lots and lots of guilt. The guilt that asks you regularly if you are the cause of something that has gone awry post divorce. The guilt that you have disappointed someone somehow. The guilt that makes you question if you have been forgiven by those you’ve hurt.
However, life does go on. You just fell down, but you get to get back up and start over. Divorce can a be a relief. Crawling out from under the cobwebs that once consumed you. Learning to love a version of yourself that you may not have known existed. Or maybe she was there all along, but afraid to be seen. Divorce can be the push you may have needed to find out who you were meant to be. To start and/or finish a degree. To open a business. To do what you love with freedom and independence that you may not have known you needed.
And then you could look around the corner and see the next love of your life like I did. Perhaps the one you wish you had met when you were younger. The one. The one who can fill the space in your heart you have always longed to share with someone else. And like I have said already, I know I am lucky. I know that many who get to the midlife point don’t get to find what I have found.
I share these things in my life to offer hope. To let others know that things happen when we don’t expect them. Life throws us curveballs and blessings and everything in between. We literally live In the Middle of Now. Right here. Right where we are. And that is all we can do.
By this age, we have all lived through some pretty great stuff. And some pretty intense stuff too. The good, the bad, the extraordinary, and the ordinary. By now, we know that there really is not a fairytale life that I once expected. Or is there? I’d say that is up to us. It is what we make of it, after all. We can all create our own fairytale, but they just don’t all look the same.
But even though I told you that it is still possible to find love after divorce, it is also okay to feel sad sometimes. To be uncomfortable with parts of your life that still come up to speak into your soul. To speak things you don’t want to hear. To remind you that your life has been full of disappointment and there can be a whole bunch left to come. Makes you question what risks you are willing to take as you move forward.
The thing is, divorce leaves scars. And scar tissue is tough. It is a damaged surface much like if a fairytale were made of glass. And the glass shatters just enough to be glued back together. It is fragile. Vulnerable. It reminds us that our previous experiences are part of who we are. Part of the reason we think and feel the way we do. But divorce does not have to break us. We shouldn’t let it break us.
Maybe we need to rub our fingers over the scar once in a while to remember that it’s healed. And we are stronger than we were before.