My divorce has been the hardest thing I’ve been through, hands down. It doesn’t go away either. Sure, the aftertaste eases up a little. You start having good days peppered in with the chaos. And before long, those days start outweighing the hard ones.
But ending a marriage isn’t cut and dry, even if you wanted it to be over. It doesn’t just pack its shit and leave. It hangs on with reminders. Like when you drop off your kids with your ex, run to the grocery store, and see a couple picking out apples with a toddler in their cart smiling at their banana.
Before you know it, the voice in your head whispers, “Remember those years when you thought you’d be married forever? Why did you let that go?”
Divorce can be a dick like that.
But I’m a woman who parted ways with my ex-husband three years ago (and I’ve cried almost every single day since), and I’m here to give you some good news: There are silver linings to divorce. Several of them.
1. You get to show your kids it’s okay to evolve.
Your children go from seeing their parents partnered to going it alone. They watch you navigate your way through hard situations and decisions. You are showing them people are able to pick up the pieces, start over, and move on. You are teaching them when something is no longer serving you, it’s more than okay to walk away and honor yourself.
2. You get to explore a new chapter.
If you are co-parenting, you have alone time. At first it might be hard, but this allows you to sink into yourself. Explore a new hobby. Re-group and sleep in. Take an online class. Do a huge purge. Whatever you choose to do, remember your kid-free time is yours — use it to get to know you again.
3. The sex. Oh, the sex.
Chances are there was some passion missing in your marriage. You get to find that again when you are ready. It may look like waiting to commit to someone before having sex, or it may be that you want to experiment and bang whoever you want, no strings attached.
I was afraid of having sex with a different man after being with the same one for almost two decades. Believe me when I say this won’t last. And it’s glorious.
4. You are in charge of how your home looks and its temperature.
You get to leave your coat on the floor, or have your closet color coordinated. You want leopard print pillows everywhere? It’s your call. There are no debates over paint colors or light fixtures anymore. It’s your place, and you get to do it your way. That includes being in charge of the thermostat.
5. A new relationship with your kids.
Your kid time is now more precious, and your relationship with them will change because of it. I grew closer to my kids as a result of my divorce. It’s as if we’re our own little squad now. We’ve made new traditions, we have new inside jokes. And because I’m not with them all the time, I’m more focused and present when I am. I recognize how much those kid-free hours rejuvenate me, and so do they.
6. A paved path for your next relationship.
You’ve made some mistakes. You know how you want to be treated. You put up with less crap now. But most of all, you’ve watched yourself struggle through some tough shit. You know how to make yourself happy without relying on another person. You’ll bring that to your next relationship. Oh, and did I mention the sex?
7. Reinvesting in friendships.
There’s nothing like the power of friends to pull you through a divorce. You’ll rekindle old friendships. You’ll make new ones. You’ll let go of the ones that dragged you down because you’ll have zero time or tolerance for bullshit. When you go through a divorce, you somehow find yourself cleaning up your friend list, too. And it’s freaking liberating.
8. You get to make all the decisions.
What’s for dinner, how much you spend on Christmas, and the right way to hang the toilet paper roll are all up to you. You don’t have to listen to unwanted opinions or ask before buying the perfect shade of gray for the downstairs bathroom. It’s all up to you, baby.
9. You depend on you and it’s empowering AF.
This was the scariest obstacle for me. But once I started having a little faith in myself, I saw how capable I was. I’ll never doubt myself again, or stay in a situation because it’s the easier choice. This doesn’t mean you do it all yourself, however. This means you trust yourself enough to know you will handle anything that comes up without waiting or hoping someone else will swoop in and take care of it.
10. Bedtime is all yours.
There’s no unwanted blaring television, music, or snoring. You get to sleep like a starfish under the sheets of your choosing with a body pillow if that’s your wish. Being in control of your sleeping environment does wonders for the soul.
11. Bringing bonus people into your kids’ lives.
My kids get to enjoy my ex-husband’s girlfriend and her daughter. They now have another set of loving grandparents and a few more aunts and uncles (whose dogs they adore). Their social circle has grown and they’ve gotten to know some really amazing people who love them. They are loved; they are lucky. And they know it.
If you are treading your way through divorce and it feels like you may never get to a comfortable place again, print this list off. Then, put it on your fridge or mirror for anytime you need a reminder that you will not only get through this, but your life has so much potential to be even better than it was before.
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