WHAT DIVORCE TAUGHT ME
In August of 2016 my world spun so far off its axis I didn’t think I would recover. My husband, enraged with me, put his fist through the kitchen sink. I was traumatized, and afraid for my safety. He yelled at me to go outside, and take the pups, too. I sat in the back patio at 6 a.m. outside waiting to see his next move. My pups huddled protectively by my side. I was too afraid to cry.
Instinctively, I shifted into badass superwoman mode. I told him our marriage was over, and that I no longer trusted him. “It could have been my head, instead of a sink, and you could have killed me.”
That afternoon, I went to a prescheduled women’s business networking event. How I managed to do this is frankly beyond me. I stood up, introduced myself and said, “I experienced domestic violence for the first time today and I’m scared.” (Not your average networking event elevator speech!) By the end of the meeting, eight women had given me their phone numbers and told me I could stay with them for as long as necessary.
Five months later, I had had enough of my husband’s weekend absences; his hiding every text message that came through while eating dinner together; coexisting without speaking. He moved out. I began to move on.
Over the following two years, I reflected on the failure of our relationship. I blamed myself for his cheating. I beat myself up for not being the wife he needed me to be sexually, and for pouring myself into building my business. But one day, I realized he was 50% responsible, too. With that, I felt lighter, more energized, more engaged in life. And I started dating again, this time armed with newly found wisdom because failure is a great teacher. I learned to:
1 Put myself first. You need to be happy being alone before you can be with someone else. In fact, it won’t work any other way. If you are co-dependent, you are constantly looking at other people to fill the emptiness in your life. The only one who can do that is you, regardless of what all the love songs say.
2 Be honest with yourself and the person you are dating. If something doesn’t work, express it. Disease comes from quashing our self-worth, avoiding red flags. The red flags don’t turn into white ones. If you aren’t truthful with your feelings, they eat away at you. If you can’t be truthful and transparent with someone, it won’t work. Ever.
3 Embrace that dating is scary. Why? Because it’s the unknown. Do I know if I can trust this person? Will I like them? Will they be attractive? Will they find me attractive? I had been with the same man for over 12 years and had grown accustomed to his every move, the way he spoke and felt. With a new person, it’s getting to know them, seeing if they fit, and if you fit into their equation as well. Most importantly, it’s a time investment. Is it worth it?
4I was lonely — a lot. I hated my life for a long time after the divorce. I wallowed in what it could have been, versus focusing on him not being the right man for me. I’m happy to say that I’ve done a 180-degree turn, and look at men in a whole different light now. I no longer look for someone to complete me. I’m a complete package already. I’ve learned new skills, sold a thriving business, pushed myself out of comfort zones, spoken to strangers, and even flirted a bit. It was time to truly Get My Groove Back.
5 I cried. It’s normal. It’s healing. It’s cathartic. I suggest looking at crying as soul-cleansing. Cry until you can’t any longer. Once you’ve grieved, start looking into the future, as the past is in your rearview mirror. Embrace the thrill of what will come in your life. And don’t give up.
This is a process.
Lori Mendelsohn connects people both personally and professionally. With a knack for introducing people who wind up saying, "I do," she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.