I got divorced. There, I admit it. If you ask me why, I could give you a long-winded list of reasons and accusations that made my marriage irreparable – irreconcilable differences, if you will. But when all is said and done, it boils down to one simple reason. We were unhappy.
The process of divorce is such a heavy burden to carry. You start splitting everything down the middle and then have to figure out how the half that you got is going to support you and your kids now.
Luckily, we were able to stay cordial during the proceedings, keeping our kids a priority and understanding that sacrificing their wellbeing for the sake of our own pride was not something we ever wanted to do.
Had we gone the vengeful divorce route, I couldn’t even fathom the pain that would’ve been inflicted on all sides, and my heart goes out to all single parents who had that on their plate too.
But once our divorce was finalized, it became apparent that there were numerous challenges waiting to pounce right around the corner.
Surprise, surprise, the biggest one was money. For years, I’d put my career on hold so I could be a full-time mom for the most important period of my kids’ lives – be there for them until they were at least of preschool age.
After I became single again, I had to go back to the workforce – with a massive employment gap on my resume. Not to mention that I still needed to tighten my budget belt and be very attentive to the use of utilities in the apartment the kids and I had moved into after selling the house, despite having a good emergency fund to rely on.
Being someone who’s dealt with finances all her life did help a bunch as I knew how to manage money well, but adjusting to a whole new lifestyle was still nerve-wracking and I was utterly terrified. And knowing that this was affecting my kids, too, made it all the more difficult.
I started buying value instead of name-brand products, canceled my gym membership, and overall lived a much more modest life compared to when I was married. Every penny mattered now until we got back on our feet.
But finances aside, it was heartbreaking to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer rely on my husband, whether it was to run an errand or to have a shoulder to cry on after a long day.
Again, my saving grace was that we ended it on peaceful terms so at least our kids didn’t lose out on either of us. He was never the type to try to avoid the responsibilities of a father and I realize I’m luckier than most in this regard. The kids would move back and forth every few weeks, which gave them enough love and devotion on both ends, though explaining why mom and dad were no longer together was another can of worms.
There’s still a nagging voice in the back of my head that tells me our separation and divorce will affect them worse in the long run but I’m trying my best to minimize the damage. After all, they’re the reason I keep pedaling forward despite the breakup, making all the lifestyle changes in the world more than worth it.
I’d have long gone insane if it weren’t for them – and seeing their smiles that remind me I’ve done at least something right makes the storm seem like a drizzle. It was my kids that made me realize my career isn’t all that matters in the world, that I’m not the only person who matters to me.
That being said, I still needed a helping hand from time to time. At first, I was embarrassed to ask for help – what would everyone say – but then it dawned on me that I was now carrying a weight usually shared by two people, so needing help was expected, if not normal. And I realize I’m luckier than most people when I say that my parents and friends were more than happy to jump in here and there and take some of the pressure off my shoulders.
And so they did, doing the occasional babysitting while I went out to have some me-time to decompress or quickly pop out for groceries. Sometimes they tackled the chores around the house while I touched up my resume and prepared for yet another Zoom interview.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, don’t hesitate to ask the people closest to you to lend a helping hand. It takes a village, remember? And thanks to my very own village, I’ve managed to land a new job that will get the updated version of my family up on its own two feet and back to normal.
Ten years ago, this is not where I thought I was going to be – but suddenly having the rug pulled out from under me has molded me into a better, stronger version of myself that is no longer afraid of the unknown.
It took a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but I finally made it over the hill, and if you’re struggling with a similar problem, I trust that you can do it, too. If there’s anything I learned in all my years on this planet, it’s that you can handle anything life throws at you. It only seems impossible when you’re in the thick of the storm.
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2 thoughts on “How the Challenges of Divorce Made Me a Better Person”
Christine, thank you for sharing this part of your story. My ex and I never had children but I can still relate to a lot of what you have said. In some ways, setting out into the unknown after a divorce is like an adventure but it’s not always a “choose your own adventure”. Perspectives have to be shifted and like you said, sometimes belts have to be tightened and other accommodations made. On the really hard days, I told myself that, so far I had been successful 100% of the time at waking up every morning. That might have been my only success on any particular today but it was more than something. Gradually, I made headway on my heart and my future though I will always be a work in progress. But, aren’t we all?
I admire your courage and strength. I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been coming this far, but you soldiered on. Thank you for inspiring me to keep trudging along even though my path seems so unclear right now and making decisions in my marriage so hard to make. One day it will all make sense and clarity will prevail.