Everyone should go through a divorce.
Now, hopefully not one rife with physical trauma or financially-degrading court battles. There actually IS another way to experience it, unbeknownst to Hollywood. Mine for instance, finalized as I stepped into my 30th year. Most of my life has been spent focused on finding prince charming. Unconsciously preparing myself for my happily ever after. I’m not blaming Disney, that’s just how I felt. Searching for a man to make me happy and finally realizing, once I had a great one, that I was still miserable.
Divorce highlights the separation from a previous self and life. The anxiety of choosing again who you are and the pain of facing your worst fears. Divorce slows you down. It forces you to re-evaluate, re-define, re-assess. It asks you to not only define, but prioritize what is most important. It challenges you to attempt forgiveness instead of payback. It caricatures your life, highlighting some of the ugliest characteristics of your self and the illusions you created around you.
I don’t think the reason that there are more divorces in the U.S. than there were 20 years ago is because people are less committed to the “institution” of marriage (although surely there have always been those people). I think instead, there’s a growing public consensus that we’re ALLOWED to change. In fact not only are you allowed to, you should. Oprah says you need to grow up, and mature (unlike Tom Cruise). And yes, you need to go through the darkest, deepest valley in order to do it. It sucks. I know. I’m divorced.
My divorce has been a p-r-o-c-e-s-s of self-realization. And only now can I look back on the past two years and say I changed. I am happier. I am more prone to forgiveness. I am more optimistic about my future and my son’s future. Divorce is one of those life changes that is paradoxical as you move through it. You feel joy and deep regret. Pain and giddiness. Loneliness and relief. I had many a night sobbing in bed through this emotional confusion, not understanding how I could possibly experience all of this at once. And wondering when it would shift to be celebratory…or at least calm acceptance of a new beginning.
But change is often like that. It gets you when all else seems to have failed and all you have left is you. And sometimes, not even a you recognizable to those closest to you. But some other person who is stronger, wiser and actually committed to something deeper than vows: discovering your purpose for being here. Your purpose for breathing. For being on this earth at this point in human history. Because if I wasn’t put here to be a wife, what did I come for? Perhaps the next 30 years can be focused on answering that question.