Image via Jackson Pollock
The word “divorce” conjures up lots of negative thoughts and emotions for me. Things like anger, bitterness, sadness, loneliness and disappointment. It can be an ugly, messy thing. Rather than focus on those aspects, though, I am striving to find beauty in divorce.
Words by Jo Brown
I am a divorce expert. Not really, but it sure feels like it sometimes. I am a child of divorce. I have been divorced. I am married to someone that has been divorced. I am helping to raise children of divorced parents. See! Divorce, divorce, divorce!
I talked briefly about my divorce in this introductory post. Without a doubt, I walked away from my divorce a changed person. But the effects of divorce didn’t end there. In fact, I’d propose that the effects of divorce are far-reaching in nature and often don’t show up until years down the road.
I’ll straight up tell you that I instigated my divorce. In my experience, that doesn’t necessarily make it easier or less devastating. There is still a great loss. I’ll never forget the first Christmas after my divorce. My husband and I had a tradition to buy each other Christmas ornaments and my awesome sister agreed to carry on this tradition with me. One afternoon, I stood in Hallmark and bawled as I tried to pick out an ornament for her. Even if you’re relieved or happy or whatever after divorce, there are moments that stop you in your tracks and take your breath away.
In the single years following divorce my vision for a suitable companion became very clear. With laser-like focus, I identified deal-breakers quickly. This saved me a lot of time and heartache. That said, dating someone can be fun(ny) even when you know they aren’t THE ONE. There were countless fairs, concerts and farmers’ markets that were an absolute blast during those single years. There was also that time a guy messaged me and one of my roommates at the same time on an online dating site. Her and I had a great laugh about it!
Through divorce I learned about myself immensely. Not only did I learn what I was looking for in a companion, I learned what kind of companion I wanted to be. I also learned to be whole and happy as an individual. I believe that to be one of the greatest things you can bring into any relationship.
I also learned that I am willing to (and want to) put up with a lot more. Ah, here’s the head scratcher. Divorce often has the opposite effect on people. They say things like “I will never put up with that again! Especially not for as long as I did!” As I mentioned, I instigated my divorce. My situation was no longer serving me in the way I expected or hoped. Only years later did I realize how incredibly selfish I was. I read a magazine article that totally called me on the carpet. I was guilty of what was referred to as a consumer marriage, “where you’re saying, `As long as my spouse is meeting my needs, then I stay. But if the costs go up and the rewards down, I bolt. And if a better alternative comes along, I’m gone.'”
Marriage is tough! I love what Ashley from The Shine Project recently said on Instagram in reference to her marriage. “You choose the person you want to triumph and lose with throughout your life, and then you hold onto them, and you love them.” The best lessons I’ve learned through divorce are about marriage. Marriage is precious. Family is everything. These things should be prized, treasured and treated with the highest regard. They could be gone in an instant. Seriously, how many times have you heard of someone divorcing and thought, “I didn’t see that coming” or “that came out of nowhere”? That’s how quickly it can change, if you let it.
Divorce is all around us and sadly, it doesn’t just effect the couple involved. Rather than become jaded or cynical, though, I challenge myself (and you) to find beauty in divorce. There are lessons in it! For me those lessons and the life I’ve created as a result of them are priceless.