By: Lauren Tankle
I’m not recommending anyone get divorced; it drains you of all your energy, optimism and sanity. BUT after experiencing the most horrific year of my life and living through the dark abyss that is divorce, I can say, now that it is over, I came out the other side a stronger and better person.
Although a lot was lost; here is what I gained:
If I had never been faced with the decision to ditch the entire foundation that my life was built on, I might still be the timid girl I was in my teen years. I was too nervous to take chances and reveled in the comfort of familiar things. I would have never thought of taking drastic chances to change my life, even if it meant that chance would change my life for the better. Looking back, I question if the reason the relationship even progressed as far as it did was because I felt that not being 100% satisfied with a relationship was worth not having to deal with the fallout and chaos that comes with a breakup. I learned how big of an impact fear had on my decisions and lifestyle, but only after I lost that fear. Fast forward seven years later and now I have this feeling imbedded into me that no matter what happens in my life, no matter how awful and life-altering the outcome of any decision I make may be, I know that if my entire world comes crashing down on my head again I am capable and will be able to pick myself up and build a new and even better life for myself, because I already did it once. I’m honestly so in love with the new found confidence and fearlessness I posses. I can live my life without the stress of being afraid because I know that I can handle whatever is going to be thrown at me. Who knew my favorite quality about myself would be born through the process of literally my worst nightmare.
2. New sense of independence
Before my divorce, I was planning on cutting my bachelors degree short and settling with an associates degree so I could move to North Carolina with my husband and take care of our brand new baby. I don’t know if I would have ever discovered I posses the potential to graduate with the best of tech award, land a job on a design team that designs high end retail stores, stumble upon the opportunity to teach other undergraduate interior design students or that I could end up blogging for a huge health care organization like Signature Medical Group. I would have never known I could handle the stress and pressure of being a full-time working mother; and, if we are being really honest, it is so empowering. I never gave up because I couldn’t. I had no one to fallback on. I had nothing to start from. I had literally no other option but to work hard every single day to build my life to the point of being able to provide a safe and happy life for my son, on my own. This drive and the craving for independence is what led me to stay so long at school working on my projects. The strive for independence gave me the momentum to work a 40-hour per week unpaid internship during the day and then try to create an income from waitressing nights and weekends. My eyes would burn from being exhausted or from crying, but I literally had no other option so I kept going. As much as I like to think I would have had that motivation if I didn’t get divorced, I wouldn’t have.
3. Self-worth & knowing exactly what I want
If I had never gotten divorced and instead decided to settle in my first marriage, I would have robbed myself of ever knowing what it felt like to be overwhelmingly in love with someone. By having a relationship that didn’t work out, you learn exactly who you are and what you need from someone else to make a relationship work. You lose the sense that there is only one person out there for you and you’ll die without them. (I hate that I actually thought that when I was younger.) If I never got divorced, I would have been keeping myself from the possibility of an incredible life, all because the less incredible life was more familiar and I had already invested a lot of time into it. After knowing what I wanted and after gaining an understanding of what I needed, I was able to navigate through my life to get to where I am now. I let go of friendships that didn’t better my life, and had other romantic relationships that didn’t work out but even so, here I am, happier than I have ever been.
When you have lived the nightmare of the lowest point in your life, it is so much easier to be so happy on normal mundane days. I can honestly say I wake up every day with a different kind of happy than I have ever experienced before getting divorced. I have seen the support and love of my family and for that I am forever a changed human with family at the forefront of my priorities. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have parents who were willing to make so many sacrifices to ensure my son and I have the incredible life we have today. I would have never met the love of my life, my current fiancé. I would have never gained the family I have through him and I would not have known the strength of the relationships I have with my family and friends who have been in my life through all the ugly stages. I wake up so grateful because even if I lost my job or my apartment or my car or if I lost literally everything in my life today, I would still have the love and support of my family; and as I get older, I realize how important and rare that is.
Starting over can be a terrifying experience and it can come with a lot of stress and depression, but there is always a silver lining and things always get better if you make the decision not to give up. Gone are the days I would tweet about my coffee not being as good as I expected because I have experienced a day where my life seemingly crumbled right in front of my eyes. I feel very grateful for the person I have become and for that, if I was given a chance to go back and change all the decisions in life I have made, I wouldn’t change anything. I would do it all over again.