A short while ago I attended a hen do and two thoughts sped through my brain around 10.30pm in quick succession.
‘I would never have been doing this if all of ‘that’ hadn’t happened to me.’
‘I love my life.’
There are a few things to clarify here. Firstly, these weren’t alcohol induced thoughts – prosecco had been being steadily consumed but so had many snacks and water. Second of all, I don’t always love my life. I’m not saying it’s perfect or that I’m content all the time, in fact I feel I’ve been rather grumpy of late.
But, dancing away, I realised that I would have been hugely unlikely to do these things if my life hadn’t turned out this way.
My ex didn’t like dancing. I love it. We didn’t have dancing at our wedding – if I got married again now you can bet I’d be straight onto the dance floor. My nearest and dearest who didn’t know me back then have been astounded there was no dancing – ‘but you love dancing!’ – and now I wonder that too. I decided to acquiesce on this point because I knew how much he did not want to dance in front of other people, and I didn’t want him not to enjoy his wedding day. Maybe it was selfless and loving, maybe it was losing myself, maybe it was a bit of both.
When you marry young, or are together a long time, it’s easy to lose yourself in the working out of ‘us’. You can begin by indulging what they like, giving the support they need, and gradually find you have lost your own identity along the way. It doesn’t mean your ex was at ‘fault’ but rather that somehow, amongst the routine you don’t recognise you anymore. There are many ways we might lose ourselves. Perhaps we didn’t know what we liked at that stage so we adopted our partner’s likes. Perhaps we were eager to please, so went along with them, disregarding our own enjoyment in the process until it was too late to say what we wanted to do. Perhaps we were simply too cautious to say what we liked in case of an unjustified fear of ridicule.
So how does divorce help?
When you’ve been part of a couple for a long time, your lives are joined by necessity. Sometimes you may have done things they wanted, other times that you wanted. Now – there’s the possibility of rediscovery. Working out exactly what you like, how you want to organise things, where you want to put things, can be a liberating experience in separation. It’s something I explored through a list a few years ago, working out what I liked and didn’t like. It was incredible. I remembered what I enjoyed! Things I hadn’t done for years or had never done. Having only myself to make decisions for meant I could explore new options and opportunities now I wasn’t taking someone else into account. Of course, the flip side is that your significant other isn’t there to share these things with, but you are at liberty to make the decisions and choices you want to.
Making a list, discovering old interests you’d shelved, and doing the things your ex never wanted to are just a few of the ways to rediscover you. Maybe you’re going to pursue the job they never supported you to go for or go and study again. I started writing, having forgotten the freedom it offered me in the routine of work and home.
Working out who you are once again shouldn’t be underestimated. To know yourself, to like yourself, after someone else has left you is empowering. You are an individual with interests. You are interesting in yourself. You begin to become your own person once again.
There aren’t too many silver linings in this situation, but finding one within the clouds can also be finding yourself.