So as I’ll be married for a year on 25 February 2018. And it got me thinking the other night – wow, I survived a year of marriage after being divorced for 4 years. In that time, I’ve loved and lost but most of all, I’ve learned a helluva lot of lessons. I wish I can tell you I’m a “man hater” after my divorce but to be honest, I’m not. I lived a fruitful exciting life as a divorced mom – made some shitty choices along the way but most of all, I survived to tell the tale
I’ve read some articles on what people have to say about divorce taught them, and I won’t lie, some left me rather depressed. This isn’t an attack on those people or anyone. Rather a tongue-in-cheek piece and my own opinions (in no particular order) on what my divorce taught me and how that outlook helped me live and often left me to stop and smell the roses…
Lesson 1: Know your title and own it
Single, divorced – both are pretty much the same thing – you are without a partner. The decision was made, the papers were signed and it’s done. You are facing this world alone, with or without kids, – a chapter of your life is done. You got divorced for a reason and whatever that reason may be – it’s not the end of the world. You will cry today and tomorrow, and then you will move on.
Lesson 2: Your world will not end…really it won’t.
YOU will be okay. In case you’re thinking your world will end – it won’t. There is someone out there fighting a deadly illness, praying to see another day. Your divorce isn’t life ending. You came into this world alone and you will die alone – wipe your face, put on your big girl panties and celebrate your new status in life.
Lesson 3: Your best friend(s) matters
Don’t let any guy come between you and your best friend(s). Whether your best friend is a girl or a guy, just don’t. I found my best escapes happened with people who know me best, through tears and all, on my ugly days and on my fabulous days, these are the people that matter to me. They make up my tribe. Through thick and thin, we endure it all. Yes we may fight and be rather shitty at times to each other, but don’t throw away years of amazing friendship for someone new and who has insecurities that you can’t fix.
Lessons 4: Your ex can never, ever, be your best friend…
Whatever lies you two tell each other…no! And this is not just based on my own opinion but supported by other divorcees too. You two can never be besties. You can never pop over for coffee and build a “happy family, happy home” environment. It leaves your children with an impression that “mommy and daddy will get back together” and often results in animosity and anger should mommy or daddy move on and find happiness with other people. That child will see the new person in your life as the cause and reason that their “white picket fence and idealism of mommy and daddy getting back together” dream doesn’t become a reality. Respect each other, and tolerate each other but I guarantee you, playing “happy family” never ever ends good for anyone. I never did that to my daughter – and will try my utmost to never will. She knew from day 1, she has a mom and dad that loves her. That’s all that mattered.
Also if your ex is vindictive and enduring remorse, incapable of accepting the divorce, they might end up building a fantasy land where they strongly believe (and make others believe the fantasy as well) that you two will get back together – and when the reality comes crashing down that you have moved on, you will be faced with issues of spitefulness, neediness and a variety of innovative tactics aimed at making your life miserable. Hey, when people are scorned, they do crazy shit. I was fortunate to never endure this but I was in caught in many situations that was enduring just this.
Lesson 5: Your children will be okay
Yes divorce will affect them and yes divorce will be ugly. But this is your divorce. Not your childrens’. Don’t put them in the middle and make them choose. None of that is in their best interest. Adult business should be kept to just that – for the adults only. Happy parents, happy children. Don’t guilt them or talk bad about your ex spouse (and their potential new partner to the children). Name calling, bad mouthing – all signs of immaturity. And it’s really warped. You are an adult. You’re only really making yourself miserable and crazy. When you’re at work, do you talk bad about about your colleagues or ask your boss to choose sides? No you don’t. So why treat divorce any different? Handle it like the adult that you are. Handle it like a business. Not like the cast of Mean Girls. And I promise you – knowing that they have loving happy parents – despite not being together – is all that matters to them.
Lesson 6: Trust your child’s instincts when it comes to a (potential) partner
Yes, you read right. Trust your child – especially if they are under the age of 6. A partner showering you with materialistic shit is short-lived if your child doesn’t take to your potential partner. Children know when people are being genuine and when they aren’t. We are often blinded by the sudden attention, the gifts and socialistic lifestyle that we often don’t see what is often very clear infront of us. And if they say “your child will get used to me” or “your child is very attached” – bullshit. You are the child’s parent. Listen to them. They won’t steer you wrong.
Lesson 7: Date, date and date some more…
You’re divorced/single and not dead. I’m not saying go out there and sew your seeds across the entire population, but go out and meet people. However, don’t go out looking for a stand-in parent for your child. No one needs that kind of pressure. The dating world changed. And you need to accept that change. Step out of your comfort zone and go meet people. Whether it’s at gym, a book shop, a social gathering – don’t close yourself off to the world.
Lesson 8: Lose the criteria you have in your head
Okay, now this is vital – whether you’re divorced, or still single and looking. That Hollywood criteria you have in your head of an ideal partner – Lose it. I’m being serious. Often I get told by people, “a good partner is so scarce.” And I usually respond “so tell me what you’re looking for?” What usually follows is a criteria list the length of the Great Wall of China. I usually ask them are 3 simple questions and at that very moment, it’s as if a light bulb goes off in their head at how ridiculous their criteria is.
- If you want a wealthy, career-orientated partner, can you bring exactly the same to the table? Wealth and career-orientated?
- If they must look a certain way, do you mirror what they look like – because that’s only fair?
- If you could choose 2 qualities in a life partner, which would you choose – money, happiness, loyalty and God-fearing? – and I’ll tell you why I ask this often – I was with money and they couldn’t give me their time and loyalty. I was with God-fearing but they used religion to justify disloyalty and happiness only to them. And yes money is vital but don’t confuse money with wanting to climb a social status – your life will always be left the same – empty.
Lesson 9: It’s okay to have some guilt-free YOU time
My Ma told me this – and I mean, the lady is 80+, 7 children, 35+ grandchildren and 10+ great-grandchildren, so she must know what she’s talking about. Juggling parenthood and your career is hard work. Ensuring none of those balls drop is even harder work. Trust me on that. Take some time out. I usually found going away for the night or a full spa day, was the amazing for the soul. If money and budget is an issue, Wikideals and Daddy’s Deals are great if you keen to plan ahead.
Lesson 10: Happiness comes only from you – no one else
No one else can make you happy – if you’re not truly happy within yourself. If you feel you need people to make you happy or materialistic shit, your journey to happiness will never end because you will never be fulfilled. People can try and I promise you – they will fail. They can try but if you’re morbid, negative and miserable – you could lose a lot of people as they don’t want to be around Morbid Martha. If you’re truly and honestly happy within yourself, you will exude it and everyone around you will LOVE being in your company. Not only ask yourself this, but try it and see how you feel – it is only when we are faced with spending time by ourselves that we are able to assess who we truly are as individuals.
- Can you sit in a restaurant alone and enjoy a meal all by yourself – and not feel as if people are staring at you? As in head to your favourite restaurant and say “table for one please?” I loved it. I miss it as it was such a relaxing time to enjoy a meal or escape in a book
- Can you sit in the movies alone and not walk out because you feel weird? No kids, no besties – just you.
So…with that said – love yourself, put on your big girl panties and face the world. YOU will be okay!