It’s the question I get asked the most when explaining how my ex husband walked out on me and our kids on our 5 year wedding anniversary nearly 4 years ago.
‘But, you’re like, happy…?’
Darn right, I am.
This is when they start to just glaze over. You can tell they want to say something, but they don’t know what.
They don’t know what the appropriate response is. Or if they are even allowed to ask these things. But you can see it on their faces. They want to know. They’re desperate to know.
‘But how?’ they stammer genuinely perplexed.
And this is when the conversation gets tricky.
Because I know what they’re really asking. They want to know my secrets. They want to know the formula.
They want to know how I got the great job. Or how I found the love of my life. (And like, for reals this time. 😉) They want to know what they need to do to get the family, the kids, all of it.
‘But like what did you do?’
So here it is. Enough of the run around. You want to know my secret? My secret to being so darn happy? My secret to being able to pick myself up off the ground after watching everything I had worked so hard to keep together come crashing down around me?
Are you sitting down? Got your pen and paper ready for note taking?
Because you don’t want to miss this. And I’m only going to say this once (kidding, but you get it, right?).
Okay, y’all. You wanna know what I did?
First, I learned to give myself the grace I so freely extended to others. It may sound easy, but try it. When’s the last time you didn’t put yourself down after looking in the mirror? Or when’s the last time you said something nice about yourself? I don’t know about you, but I learned really quickly that I wouldn’t say 90% of the things I said to myself to anyone else.
I would have no friends, y’all. None. Because people don’t like mean people. Yourself included.
So stop and give yourself some grace. And like a lot of it.
Next, I learned to make the mistakes I was afraid to make before. And believe me, I made a ton. No, like really. A ton.
Especially when it came to dating and doing the whole ‘single mom’ thing. Because dating after 30 is horrible (but totally worth it!) And raising kids on your own is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.
So see? Exactly why you need grace.
Then, I learned to ask for help when I needed it. And I needed it, a lot.
And then I learned to help others when I could. I learned how to give back. How to do what I could with what I had. And the truth is, it doesn’t take a whole lot to do a whole lot of good, trust me.
Next, I learned to be okay with not being right all of the time. Yeah- this one was a doozie, but it’s necessary.
Also, if you don’t already know, you are not right all of the time. (Don’t hate me! I’m just the messenger.)
The way the ex left it was really easy for me to justify all of my not-so-good qualities. I hid behind his mistakes. So this idea that I didn’t know it all or I wasn’t always right was a new one to me.
And it’s likely I’m still working on this one. Daily.
I learned to try things. Things I had been scared of before. Like eating alone. Or going on a date for the first time in 10 years. I tried new foods whenever I could. I slept with the TV on. And then off. I slept on the right side of the bed. And then the left. And then the middle, until I learned that I don’t really care what side I sleep on as long as the TV is off.
I learned to be okay with being scared. As far as I am concerned I have hit rock bottom already, so there is NOTHING that could hurt me any more.
I learned to be okay with failure.
I learned to keep promises to myself.
I learned to trust myself.
I learned that ‘No.’ was a complete sentence. (Try saying it out loud- it will change your life.)
I learned that I was worthy of love. Yes, love from others, but mostly (and especially) love from myself.
And finally, I learned to forgive myself. For all of it.
Because divorce isn’t pretty. And because there was a time when I fought like hell for my marriage.
But what I’ve learned over these last few years. What I have found to be the biggest truth. What’s the key to finding happiness after divorce?
I learned to finally fight like hell for me.