The kids and I put up our Christmas tree over the weekend. Christmas music was playing in the background. We shared laughs. The kids and I have always made memories decorating our tree. Now, here we are, preparing for our second Christmas in “mom’s house” since the dreaded D word. Admittedly, single-mom life is not what I ever envisioned, but here I am. I recognize there’s a “you do you,” live your best life, YOLO (does anyone even say that anymore?), divorce-party culture, but that’s not really my style.
This past year has been anything but a celebration.
There is not a sense of liberation when signing divorce papers. It was actually the opposite. It was almost like “what now?” kind of situation. I’ve had time to reflect about the last 12 months since everything was finalized and I must say that I’ve learned many lessons (even in this short amount of time).
Here are my top four post-divorce lessons learned:
1. New sense of gratitude
One might wonder how gratitude is realized after a failed marriage; it may seem as if there is nothing to be grateful for, but there is always something…it may be the health of your family, the new house you call home, the food you have to prepare, time spent with your children and your circle of friends. Even in the midst of a storm, there is something for which to be grateful.
2. A deeper level of trust in God
This time last year, it was just a couple of weeks after everything was finalized. I said I was fine to most who asked, but I was not in fact fine. I would try to pray to God and could only turn to him with tear filled eyes and no words. He is boundlessly faithful and so full of grace. Recently, through prayer, I realized that I had confused numbness for peace. All the while, I was struggling to find the words to express my deepest sorrow, He never left me. From acts of kindness from others, prayers from strangers and other amazing ways that were only God given. He was working then and is working now.
3. Be honest with yourself
If you continually dismiss your emotions (like I did) and always need a distraction to avoid your heartbreak, you are only prolonging the inevitable. You must feel to heal. Divorce is hard. Regardless of what happened, there is unavoidable sadness and grief you need to navigate through. I found myself mourning what I believed our family would be like one day. Being honest with myself was my first step in healing. I recommend finding a great therapist to help with these emotions.
4. Embrace change
Being a mom of four, now sharing 50% custody with their dad, is a different kind of difficult. There were times after I dropped my kids off to spend a week with their dad that I would return home, pull into my driveway and sit for an hour — sometimes two — and cry, pray, sit in silence…until I had the strength to walk into a silent house filled with motionless toys. Time spent in the parked minivan is less these days. I’m learning to embrace the change of having a house that is sometimes quiet — these are good laundry days.
This new sense of gratitude, the deeper level of trust in God, recognizing the importance of being honest with myself and learning to embrace change are my top four lessons from the last 12 months. I’m sure as time passes, there will be more, but for now, I hope these four can help another who has found themselves on this journey.