When I was getting divorced, no one told me, “Congratulations!” or “Good job!” Instead, they frowned, rubbed my shoulders and wanted to cry. Only, I was euphoric; I was liberated from my controlling husband and it wasn’t easy taking the final steps to leave. Getting divorced takes courage and strength and whether you’re the initiator or the receiver, you’re both victims who feel like the rug has been violently pulled out from underneath you, left free falling into a black hole. Pursuing happiness isn’t always easy and often involves jumping over some messy and complicated hurdles such as hurting someone I once loved and will forever be connected to through our child. Divorce shook my life up like a snow globe, obscuring the light at the end of the tunnel and as hard as I tried to see a bright future, my eyes were too filled with tears to see anything clearly.
Everything about divorce is difficult and if that’s not enough, society still puts a stigma on it. Even though it’s 2016 and 50% of marriages end in divorce, there still exists an unspoken tarnished image, an invisible “Scarlet D” branded across your Life file forever. Divorced is more forever than marriage; you can not get un-divorced.
Divorce is not the end of something that was right; it’s the end of something broken. Divorce can feel like a key to a jail cell, but just like getting out of jail takes adjustment to life outside the slammer, life after divorce takes support – and part of that is hearing that it’s not a bad thing. It’s OK! Often it’s a great thing. Welcome to the Divorce Club, where half the population supports you and knows what you’ve been through.
A happily divorced person is like a newly married person, wanting to recruit others into their club. After I was divorced, the euphoria of the freedom was overwhelming and I wanted others to feel it. I wanted my other friends, trapped in controlling marriages to understand what it’s like to hear their own thoughts, knowing their voice is the one which will rule their life rather than their partner’s. Post-divorce, you officially become the captain of your ship; your co-captain is overboard and there are no anchors, just plenty of metaphors.
Divorce takes a toll on the psyche. It’s hard to imagine, when you’re knee-deep in marriage disillusionment, that your heart will swell again and fill with love and you will trust this love and this instinct. It’s hard to believe you can make a good decision if you clearly got it wrong the first time. How will I know if the second time really is different? I thought my love radar was forever broken. How would I ever trust my instincts? Since I’ve learned human’s default settings are dialed to love; just as our hearts are programmed to keep beating and surviving.
After my divorce, with a three-year-old in tow, even with a co-parenting plan in place, I felt like damaged goods. I came with heavier baggage. I didn’t feel like I deserved the prime men. Maybe an older man who missed his shot at fatherhood wouldn’t mind, or someone else divorced with kids.
Instead, I found a top-tier caliber man. Never married, completely adores me and tells me daily for a decade, and he’s a children’s entertainer to boot. Other mothers watch him perform with a longing look in their eyes, wishing they can have him. I can tell they’re thinking, “I’d give my left leg to have this man be my kid’s step-dad.” When my mother and grandmother met my boyfriend, they practically kissed his hands for taking me on AND my kid – and “Oh how good he is to him, it’s like he’s his own!”
Ten years later, my modern family has granted me more of a happily ever after than a traditional family ever did. Divorce has already been rebranded by society, it’s time our reactions (and judgments) catch up.