The Big “D”: Personal Growth + A New Definition
There is beauty and disharmony in the journey of life. Sometimes we spend a lot of time in the beauty; sometimes we stand in disharmony; and, then there are times we experience both simultaneously.
The last four years, for me, have been a rollercoaster of harmony & disharmony; a constant tug on the heart and the head; a test of wills & strength. I spent a lot of time looking inward, surrendering to the unknown, and questioning who I was and where I fit. And the response I got wasn't what I expected...
I am a firm believer in the age-old adage that everything happens for a reason. I’ve learned, through a lot of tough life lessons, that you really never know where life is going to take you or what challenges will be thrown at you. More importantly, I’ve learned that it’s in the response to the challenge that the magic really happens.
We always have a choice when we are faced with tough stuff, we can either lean in or we can push away. What I know to be true is that either choice we make will have an outcome, as well as a valuable lesson. Choices that are a matter of the heart are especially tricky, and there's just no easy way around it.
For years, I blamed myself for for the difficulties in my marriage. I took responsibility for the friction and toxic energy that resided in our home, believing that I must be the problem. I tried. I hoped. I became emotionally absent. I dreamt of a day that things would change, and then one day I realized they wouldn't. And so, I was faced with a choice. We were faced with a choice.
This isn't something that just happened. It's something we've been fighting against since the beginning, and it was decided that our excuse to stay together for the kids didn't hold any weight - we needed to be apart for the kids. Our babies deserve to live with more harmony and less tension, and quite frankly - so do we. So here we are. Two people who made a choice to divorce in order to provide a more positive environment for their children, and to maintain a better relationship with one another. Two incredibly devoted parents who are willing to set aside any ill will and be the best co-parents we possibly can be. So instead of seeing a dysfunctional relationship, our boys will begin to see a healthier relationship between two people who love & respect each other.
Sometimes we feel powerless to the realities of the messiness relationships bring, but the truth is we gain power once we decide to take ownership of the situation.
The perception may be that our marriage failed, but regardless of the issues that we had - we both are confident that it was a success. Failure would be staying in something that wasn't peaceful, something that hurt all the time. Failure would be staying stagnant, rather than moving forward. And, how can our marriage be a failure when we brought two beautiful children into this world? There's nothing about becoming parents that means failure. And now, our goal is to make sure the divorce is an even greater success.
Its been long enough since we made the decision, that I have had some distance from it and can speak with clarity. I've gone through the stages of anger, grief, relief, and denial - in no particular order - and while it still isn't easy, I've found peace.
You see, while I was confident in the decision to end my marriage, I grappled with the new reality that we are no longer a family in the traditional sense. That moving forward we are creating a new family mission that is far different than most. Non-traditional for sure - and in our case, a much more healthy functioning family.
I never would have imagined that in my adult life I'd be the one who went off course. With two failed marriages and two toddlers in tow, I struggled with feeling a little "less than", and even though I was secure in the decision to move on - it didn't make my feelings of the perception any different.
In fact, I hesitated to even publicly share these new changes - but then, well...I can only speak my truth.
When we hear of people divorcing, especially more than once, we wonder why they can't keep a relationship. We question their ability to thrive "coupled" instead of questioning why things may have gone wrong.
And, I'm here to tell you, the "why" is powerful.
The "why" is where the story begins.
But, a lot of "whys" aren't explained because we prefer to protect everyone involved. So while it would be easy for me to spew the details of my relationship out to everyone who will listen, I'm choosing to remain quiet about the things that should remain private and face the judgement head on.
You see, while I am incredibly (acutely) aware of my flaws and my obvious failures (as perceived by society), I believe that my relationship had a purpose - as messed up as that may seem. And while all the red flags were there, I didn't listen. I ignored my intuition and I plowed through with a bit of denial and a lot of hope.
And you know what? I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Yes, it’s been a tough four years and YES it’s easy to think of the “what ifs”, but here’s a what if...
What if I didn’t have my two beautiful boys?
I’ll tell you.
I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I wouldn’t have learned to love myself unconditionally, to accept my body for all it’s flaws, to really and truly feel something. I was a guarded soul before those boys, and today - well, today I am very much connected to who I am and what I stand for. I still really hate feeling vulnerable, but I know the beauty that comes with it. And, I have two feisty, beautiful toddlers to thank for that. And, their daddy.
You see…every relationship has it’s purpose and as much as I had hoped I would live happily ever after in a “traditional” family, this just wasn’t my path. But, I don’t regret the chapter one bit.
So, I’ll take the judgement, the whispered comments, and the labels, because even though I had to walk through Hell to get here, this new chapter and the discomfort that comes with it are totally worth it.
I've changed. So much.
I learned early on in my life that not everything works out the way we dream. That sometimes, it’s harder to close a door and walk away than it is to stay trapped in the room. It takes courage and a lot of strength to move out of the known and into the unknown; to accept failure and have enough strength to move past it; to be vulnerable. It's a hell of a lot easier to sit with the discomfort than start all over, but sometimes moving forward and closing a door is the only way for growth and happiness.
We, each one of us, has our own path. It is unique to us, and for some completely against societal expectations and norms.
I've spent a lot of time ruminating over where my path has led me, embarrassed and overcome by feelings of failure. I've spent many hours, tears pouring down my face, wondering how I got to this place. And each time I go there, each time I let myself question it, I come back to two answers - my babies and my own personal growth.
Chris and I are great friends but we're not a great couple, and there’s stuff there that we just can’t go back on. But, we had our season. And as dark as the season got, there was still a lot of beauty. Our season had a purpose that changed my life.
This is my truth, and I'm ready to own it. I've learned that the best thing I can do with any perceived failure is to take it and run with it. I’ve spent a couple of years looking at how I entered into this, and I’ve come to peace with the answers. And you can bet your ass I’ve learned from it.
Maybe the perception will be that I don't have it together or I'm a mess, but the truth is - I'm in a really good place. Yes, this new chapter has proven to be freaking hard, and I have already had days where I want to run for the hills - but I’m different now. Over the last four years, while I was caring for my babies and learning to be a mom - I also began to care for myself. That period of learning and growing is when things began to shift for me, and I stepped into my own strength for the first time.
At this point in my life I can honestly say without a doubt, that I am the strongest I have ever been - there’s no greater motivation than our children.
It is really scary to close that door and step out on your own, but what I've learned is that fear is potential, and hope - well that's powerful. So, while it may have taken every ounce of courage I had to make a change, I know that there's even more opportunity for growth ahead.
People don't enter our lives by mistake. Each relationship, no matter how deep, has its purpose. Chris and I may not have worked, but I still consider us to be a success. Despite our issues, we had some good times and we experienced a lot of major milestones together. You can't forget that. He's one hell of a dad and I thank God everyday for our season and the memories we will continue to make as a family together.
And, in the words of one of our favorite Rock Country artists..."It’s over when it’s over, ain’t it baby ain’t it…"