Why divorce could be the best thing you ever do.
I recently received a DM on Instagram asking me to share more about navigating the shadows of divorce, making a big life change, and then marrying a woman. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that this isn’t the most common thing for a person to go through and I’m really grateful that someone reached out and asked because honestly, it’s a topic that I’ve considered sharing more about before but I didn’t know if there would be any interest. And, to write something so personal, I would *hope* that someone would be interested enough to read about it. I’ll write about my current love story someday, but if you’ve read my bio, you know that I went through the process of divorce at a relatively young age. I grew up in Texas and had unconsciously subscribed to ALL SORTS of bullshit limiting conditioning about heterosexual relationships, marriage, and the shameful prospects of divorce. I hope by sharing my side of the story, it’s kind of a long one, that anyone going through a similar situation is able to find the humor, relatability, and mental equipment necessary to navigate their own conditioning related to such influential life events.
I think it’s fair to say that most 21-year-olds are ill-equipped to make large, mostly financial, commitments to anything. Mostly in regard to another human, but also just in general because student loan debt is actually a national crisis. When I got married, the first time, I was two weeks shy of turning 22. We had met at a mutual friends’ wedding in the summer of 2010 and knew each other for a couple of years prior to the big day. He was freshly graduated when we met, and I was a sophomore about to embark on the actual worst 2 years of my life, compliments of nursing school. A couple months before that night, I had ended a long-term relationship with my high school boyfriend, a short-term one with an actual sociopath who got married whilst we were together, and I was seemingly on a single-track mission to have as many brief sexual encounters as I possibly could with my new found freedom. I joke that I’m “always a bride, never a bridesmaid” because the only wedding’s I’ve been in have been my own and the summer of 2010 was the longest stretch of singledom I’ve ever experienced. That summer, I felt liberated in a way I never had before, and you better believe I took full advantage of it. #mybodymychoice
Long story short, I assumed my ex-husband was going to be a one-time thing, seeing as though he had just moved back home after graduating and I was having the time of my life.... but he never stopped calling me and we were engaged a short 5 months later. Maybe it was the fact that he was smart, very in-shape and didn’t live close by, so I still had some aspects of my freedom, but really my track record showed that I was a real sucker for that kind of hot pursuit, always eager to hitch my wagon to someone else’s who put forth any minimal amount of effort (low self-worth, party of 1). If I had been even half as self-aware as I am today, I would have clearly seen that the pattern I was repeating, by quickly jumping into another committed relationship, was absolutely related to my own deep fears of being alone, or the fact that I wanted someone to tell me what to do because I equated control with love after growing up in an ultra-strict environment, and I had ZERO idea about who I really was or what I wanted out of life. Really, who does in their 20’s, anyway? I’m 29 and I feel like I’m just scratching the surface now. Regardless, two weeks after we started “dating,” I was home shopping with my mom and made a comment that “if I stay with him, I’ll have a ring by Christmas.” Sure enough, I had one on my finger the night of December 19th. Sometimes the most intuitive pings I get come out of my mouth. If I had known myself a little bit better, the first red flag should’ve been that it felt more like a conscious choice to marry him, rather than a deeply emotional one, which wasn’t fair to either of us. Other people might rationalize their big life decisions more than I do, but, call me a romantic, the best ones I’ve made have always come from the feeling of being “pulled” to something rather than complacent about it… as if not pursuing that something would ruin my life forever.
Skipping ahead, I couldn’t not move to Colorado after separating from him, because I felt unequivocally compelled to and I have learned to always take action when that feeling strikes.
On June 2nd, 2012, we had our big, several-thousand-dollar wedding, surrounded by everyone we knew and me wearing a 30-lb dress, sweating my ass off. June in Texas is not for the faint of heart. The second red flag, aside from the fact that I panicked and asked him to reschedule the wedding the month prior – casual - was that I was absolutely annihilated on my wedding day and the only time I cried was because I thought my hair was too big (very uncharacteristic). I’m not a huge drinker, but that day I drank all of the wine in lieu of eating real food and I was tanked. Real life: I lost my footing while walking down the aisle (thanks for catching me, dad), winked at the groomsmen during our bare-necessities 15-minute ceremony, and was genuinely relieved when the whole show was over. Don’t get me wrong, I had an $18,000 good time, but the wedding was the climax of our relationship and it had come and gone before I could take another shot of tequila. Word of advice, if all you are looking forward to is the actual wedding rather than the marriage afterwards, it’s probably not a good sign.
The months following the wedding felt like the one’s prior, only without the promise of a really expensive party. Having also just graduated college the month before, I embarked on my nursing career, bought my first brand-new car, and lived in a nice apartment complex downtown. I felt like I was taking all the ‘right’ steps. I had blonde hair, we both worked full-time, went out with our (read: his) friends on the weekends, and had dinner with his grandparents every Thursday night. Date night wasn’t a priority since we never made great small talk. A year down the road, we bought a little red-brick house nestled in the suburbs of Fort Worth, and moved right in. I finally had a fireplace and painted the living room my favorite shade of grey. We had a stable dual income, plans on the weekends, and grocery shopped at the “nice” stores. It was shaping up to be… a really f*cking boring life.
I have come to find out that “boring” is my absolute worst fear, I just didn’t know it yet.
Equal parts relieved and terrified.
It comes as no surprise to me that when I first felt the whispers of our impending demise, I was equal parts relieved and terrified. Like any good, invested spouse, however, I had to make an effort to salvage the potential of “what could be” regardless of where I intuitively knew it was headed. The spring of 2014 saw me struggling to make a left-hand turn away from divorce from the passenger seat of our marriage. I had set the precedent, and expectation, like any good southern marriage, that he, as the man of the house, held most of the control. Seeing as though we neglected to keep an emotionally intimate spark alive, with no effort from either party, I started simple: I told him that something didn’t feel right and I wanted to implement a regular solo date night to fix it. No friends, just the two of us, re-connecting over hopefully good wine and candles. I would plan the first one, and he the second, to which he agreed.
Being the committer that I am, I immediately booked us a cooking class at Central Market downtown. We dressed up, we drank wine, we lit tomatoes on fire in a safe environment, and overall had a really good time. It’s truly a fond memory. Alas, that was the end of our combined date night efforts. He never followed through with a second, and neither did I, which was the blessing that cursed us. I started picking up extra overnight shifts in the Trauma ICU and when we weren’t spending nights off with mutual friends, we were spending weekends away from each other with other friends. I wasn’t bitter yet, but I was getting there.
One particular separate weekend adventure took him to Austin and my best friend, whom was in a rocky-toxic relationship with his best friend, spent the weekend with me at our house. She wasn’t a stranger to our marital struggles, but it was the first time I had spoken the word divorce to her out loud. You see, I told her that I had met a medium a couple of weeks before at my favorite bar and that she saw my fears written all over my face. We stayed out until 5am that night, with me unpacking my emotional turmoil to a virtual stranger all over the front steps of the Bearded Lady. I was craving that kind of recognition. Someone finally saw me. I already knew what my fears were, but I told my best friend that I was ready to do something about them.
It was always about me.
The truth was, I felt trapped, and that was the scariest thing for me. I’m a do-er by nature. I have a TON of cardinal energy in my astrological birth chart so I really can’t help it. I had hastily made these commitments that were societally beaten into my head as “permanent” and it was freaking me the f*ck out. A marriage. A house. When I stripped away all the conditioning of what I was “supposed” to do, I realized that I never really wanted to move to the suburbs and “settle down” – that was boring, which is the antithesis of happiness for me. The prospect of children also terrified me, it still kind of does, and I cried out of fear every time we had a close call. What was the point of continuing down this road, with someone who made no efforts, if there wasn’t even a friendship to save? I began to realize that I had dreams I hadn’t put any stock into before, but now I wanted them more than ever and this felt like a dead-end. I had always allowed someone else to dictate who I was and my identity was historically 100% enmeshed with my partners’. I know this about myself now. I had a real bad habit of giving away all my power in relationships. After going through an unstable environment in high school, I craved security and I always outsourced it. No one ever told me that I was capable of giving it to myself. My relationships ended because I inevitably outgrew playing the role of who someone else wanted me to be.
Since I felt like I had made the natural first step to salvage a “good” marriage alone, which is counter-productive when two people are involved, I suggested the natural second step. I repeatedly expressed my frustrations about our lack of connection to him, but it felt like a waste of breath. There was never any action to back up his constant agreements. Nothing, I repeat NOTHING, pisses me off more than inaction. I’m a do-er. For my final act as his wife, I suggested couple’s counseling. Mind you, this was before I knew PSYCH-K, although I’m sure a quick relationship balance would’ve shown me exactly what I needed to know.
Unfortunately, but not to my surprise, he declined my offer. He said, and I quote as it is written in my journal, “as long as you keep waking me up for sex when you come home at night, we’ll be fine.”
I had surpassed bitter and was teetering on the edge of vengeance.
We didn’t end up co-couples-counseling, but I did solo-counseling, and the first thing my therapist asked me was, “If he came home tonight and said he wanted a divorce, how would you feel?” And I said, without hesitation, “relieved.” I finally had the permission I was seeking to put myself first, which is a really difficult decision to make when someone else is involved. I continued to attend weekly counseling, eventually getting enough courage to ask my husband if he would consider separating for a while after a couple of weeks. I was genuinely shocked when he wasted no time saying that he also thought this was a good idea, that he would go live with his parents, and that we shouldn’t speak for 30 days. My jaw probably hit the floor. The only thing worse than coming to this big of a conclusion on your own is having it confirmed, without hesitation, from a partner who was so complacent about salvaging a relationship in the first place. That was when my heart really broke.
He moved out that night and I was truly alone for the first time in my adult life. So many thoughts ran through my head those first few days – “how can someone who I have so much history with throw it aside so quickly? How can I not mean that much to a person I share my daily life with? How could he come to this decision in a matter of seconds, when I had stressed about it for months?” I let myself cry it out. I journaled ALL of my feelings, not wanting to discredit a single one. I found that the grieving process was actually exceptionally cathartic, and I think it is only difficult when you try and suppress it. Like I said, I’m a do-er, so I did the damn thing. I locked myself in my empty house and I grieved a relationship lost.
Looking back now, I recognize that I was really grieving the version of myself that I was leaving behind and simultaneously coming to the realization that I had no idea who she was in the first place. No one was there to tell me who I was anymore and handing that control over to myself was the biggest blessing I’ve ever received.
The truth about navigating divorce, and relationships in general, is that you have to own your part in order to grow from the experience. Relationships take TWO people and the blame game just isn’t healthy. Suppressing your natural tendency to grieve a loss also causes more issues than you think. Emotions and traumatic experiences can get “stuck” in our physical bodies, and in our subconscious minds, creating blocks and ailments that ultimately attract similar patterns until you are able to consciously break the cycle. I’m not a marriage expert, my wife and I have only been married for almost 3 years now (not counting the lives before), but I do think I know how to navigate loss in a healthy way. You have to own the expectations YOU had for the other person that ultimately caused the relationship to fail, on your end.
I expected my ex-husband to BE the provider, to define my existence, and to take control of our life together, until I realized that I didn’t want that anymore and I never did. He fell short, regardless, because I just don’t think that’s who he is as a soul, but my expectations of him made sure of it. I set him up for failure. The reality is that everything I projected onto him was something I needed from myself and I called him in to show me that. It was our soul contract and it had been completed.
Our relationships are always our biggest mirrors and I am so grateful for the lessons my previous marriage taught me about myself. Through brutally honest self-awareness and complete self-acceptance (via PSYCH-K®️), I have been able to give myself the things that I historically craved from another person, or men in general. I now operate from a place at my core of knowing my worth, trusting myself, loving myself unconditionally, and accepting all aspects of the person I am meant to be. I am my best expert. Growth doesn’t have to be hard if you know what you are searching for from other people! Giving myself the things I sought from a partner has significantly increased the potential of the marriage I am committed to now.
Relationships are meant to complement us, not complete.
If you are experiencing a massive life change or grieving a love lost, I encourage you to own your part in the process and, instead of harboring resentment or blame or guilt, look at the opportunities you are now presented with. You get the opportunity to be the one to make those decisions for yourself. The universe is calling you to course-correct, and that’s so exciting! The worst thing that can happen is that something doesn’t work out for you, but it always makes room for the things that will, and in my experience, they are so very worth the growing pains. Keep your head up and continue to move forward – you were born with everything you need to navigate this beautiful life. I promise if you stay focused on what you really want, the Universe will always conspire in your favor.