Four things divorce has taught me

1. Divorce doesn’t define you.

This might seem strange, but when you are approaching divorce, it can feel like the word is branded onto your forehead. Like everyone can tell. Especially if it’s something you didn’t want. It feels like the word divorce is now going to follow you around, like a luggage tag on a suitcase, for everyone to read.

divorce pic
Image from Creative Commons

I’ve made a decision. Divorce does not define me. Yes I was once married.  Also I once lived with my parents. I once attended Reading University. I once drove a yellow Citroen Saxo (it was awesome). These things don’t define me. They’ve moulded me, shaped my character, got me from A to B and helped create who I am, but they’re not the sum total of me.

Checking the marital status box is a time when I feel this keenly. The label of divorce isn’t who I feel like. ‘Divorced’ doesn’t feel enough to explain the difficulties, the pain. So sometimes I tick single. It’s still true. Those whose long term relationships have ended before marriage can still tick it too. I’ve cut off the metaphorical label. I will still talk about it if it comes up. I’ll talk it through with any significant other I happen to meet. But I’m not going to be defined by ‘divorce’.

2. Criticising my ex still puts me a little on edge.

Yes they may have been a total tool. Yes I am totally amazing and they should have realised what they’d be missing.

But I married them. At one stage I clearly thought there was something pretty phenomenal about them. I don’t think of them in that same way now, but there are many many shades of grey in between the ‘they’re perfect’ and ‘total idiot’. Listing things that are bad about them is actually likely to make me like you less, not them.

3. We were really happy.

4 years ago, we went on holiday at Easter. It was brilliant.

We were married. We were happy. Yes it went wrong. But it’s perfectly alright to acknowledge how happy we were. For a long time it’s hard to say. It can feel like you either lived a lie, or need to pretend it didn’t happen because it’s now no more.

It’s not something I’m going to go on about to people. But divorce doesn’t mean only acknowledging the bad, it’s also about occasionally appreciating that there was good.

It does however, feel like a totally different lifetime ago.

4. I like myself.

Again, maybe this sounds ridiculous. When someone splits up with you after promising you the rest of their life, you do self-analyse (‘what’s wrong with me?’ angst on a monumental scale). And I’ve had some pretty profound bouts of that. I’ve experienced the full-on super-attractive hours of crying with thoughts of how ugly, unworthy and unloveable I must be flying through my head. I’ve also experienced, with incredible clarity, thoughts at the same time – that didn’t come from me – of the total opposite. How I am beautiful, lovable, worthy of love.

I’m not saying I think I should win awards for beauty, I’m not that vain (my awareness of my lack of ‘beach ready body‘ should prove that). What I mean is that, thanks to a year of exploring stuff I like to do, I now know what I like, and I like myself more because of it.

I’ve had to become just me. I have interests. I like rap as well as cheesy pop, rock and musicals. I have no qualms embarrassing myself by dancing in the street. I love to write. I love to walk. I love drinking coffee, playing cards, and a whole myriad of other things. I’ve discovered I really quite like who I am, not because I’m arrogant (hopefully) but because actually, I’m alright.

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