Funny how the worst day in your life, can end up being the best.
It was 2005. I can’t remember the exact date anymore. End of October, beginning of November. It was around that time because one of my best friends had just separated from her husband and I was in full swing support mode. I had no idea just how connected this friend and I would become.
My husband had been away with a friend in Germany and had just returned home. Prior to leaving on his trip, we had been house hunting for a larger home outside of the city, and in my mind, planning for baby number three as my baby was now 2.5 years old.
“I want to take a break from house hunting”, was what he said when he arrived home.
“Sure.” I thought nothing more of the conversation.
A couple of days later: “I also want a divorce.”
You know when people are in serious car accidents, they often have no memory of the event. They may have a recollection of hours before, or maybe only a few days before (depending on the level of the trauma), but they don’t remember the accident or the days and sometimes months following. Perhaps it’s due to a combination of the injuries, and I think the body’s kind way of saying “Don’t worry, you don’t have to house these memories. I’ll hide them. Unfortunately you have to live them though.”
Needless to say, I can’t quite remember when my first clear memory is.
Minutes turned into days, then weeks, then months.
I’m not even sure when or how I told people, but slowly I did. It was a long, drawn out, painful separation. I know I told some people early on, but many I just avoided and waited until I felt strong to have the conversation.
I did keep a journal, but even that does not record what it was like. There really are no words.
Dark. Scary. Desperate. Lonely. Shellshocked.
Funny, I was shellshocked.
But there were many, many red flags. Many times my husband of 11 years had proclaimed his unhappiness. I had sat in an ER room when I miscarried, by myself, while he went out to the car to check for messages and then “fell asleep”. I had found his phone bill which had that same number over and over again, showing it had been called at all hours, for extended periods of time, while I struggled with the death of my father, a colicky baby, and a 2 year old. I had spent hours alone on weekends, birthdays, Mother’s Day. I had endured hearing many times “I love you. You are the best person. I’m just not in love with you.” And I had often heard, “I’m just not attracted to you.”
I think someone should have handed me the book “He’s Just Not That Into You”, and hit me over the head with it. Many times.
So began my journey of first and foremost, pulling my head out of the sand.
I went to a counsellor.
When Rob and I bought a house together 3 years later, guess who our new neighbour was (and is)?
Anyhow, she was amazing. Helped me start to rebuild, starting with my self esteem and sense of worth. It was so hard. First, getting out of denial. Then having to deal with the fact that HE left ME, when really, I should have seen the red flags so much earlier. Why had I been willing to stay became the question.
I beat myself up over that question for months. Maybe years? Why was I so pathetic that I could be in an unhappy marriage and a) not admit it and b) not do something about it?
After much soul searching, I began to see there wasn’t one reason, but so many. Fear of being alone. Low self esteem. Fear of tearing up my children’s life. The strong desire to be married. Fear of being financially on my own. Innocence. Naivety. Hope. Faith.
Whatever my reasons, the most important thing I learned was it was OK. It was what it was. Let it go.
I felt like everyone judged me and they all thought I was a fool. And, I guess I was. But I reminded myself that many who were doing the judging were also fooling themselves in some area of their lives. (Funny how when you divorce everybody you meet begins to share with you their own marital woes).
The only way to deal with the pain, is through the pain.
So, that is where I went.
As much as you have the best supports around you, which I did, you have to make this journey on your own.
I remember literal sleepless nights.
I remember sobbing in the shower.
I remember eating endless boxes of Frootloops for dinner.
I remember staring at the walls in my office as I struggled to figure out how I would stay afloat (financially, physically and emotionally) and keep the kids in their completely normal routine.
I remember bursting into tears when a client joked that I had taken off my wedding ring because I must be going through a divorce. The joke really was on him, I guess. He felt so bad. It was so unprofessional of me to burst into tears, but completely human of me.
I also remember amazing conversations with my lifesavers at the time: my Mom, my one best friend in Montreal, and my other best friend who also was going through a divorce.
There was some light, on some days, in this dark tunnel.
I started to exercise more. Running, biking, going to the gym. I grew my circle of girlfriends. Got to know my neighbours. I deepened my faith and called on my Heavenly Father more fervently. I read. I played with my kids. I hung new pictures. I ate copious amounts of Thai and Sushi. I played all the music I wanted to hear. I bought and wore jeans. I rediscovered my style. I started traditions. I bought a camera. I traveled.
I started to create that garden that I talked about here.
Then, I started dating.
But that’s a whole other story.
Needless to say, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had no idea that that one painful, fall day, would eventually be a day I now look back on as one of the best days that ever happened to me.
Have you had a bad day that turned out to be life changing for you?
Sidenote: I mean no disrespect to my children’s father. I have long since gotten over my pain and anger and am at complete peace and acceptance with him. I am also at complete acceptance and peace with me. Forgiveness is a beautiful gift – to give yourself. We have both moved on and both know we made mistakes. Our only focus now is on our kids.