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When planning out my life I didn’t exactly envisage ‘divorced by 26’ to be part of the picture. If I’m completely honest I didn’t really think I’d be married by then, but it seemed like everyone else was getting married and I selfishly wanted to look ‘young’ for my wedding photos so I didn’t completely write off the idea. Seriously, that was a legitimate thought of mine. Shallow I know.
Now, a few years later, I can look back on my relationship at that time in my life with a bit more objectivity and honestly say that my divorce was the best thing to happen to me. It wasn’t either one of us alone that killed our marriage, and there were so many red flags that I just overlooked.
Some people make fantastic friends and partners but aren’t meant for the long haul. That’s exactly what my relationship was like.
We were brilliant friends. We travelled together, never really argued a lot, had similar values and drive to grow our wealth and had a great social life. There were a few levels we didn’t connect on and at the time I figured this is just what happens in relationships. After all, we were great friends. Wasn’t that enough?
When I fell pregnant with my son a lot of things changed that led to my divorce. One of the things that changed about me was the realisation that I needed to take control of my life, I needed to make decisions and have a say in what happened. It wasn’t just about me anymore. I was about to have a baby that relied on me completely.
Control isn’t something I had a lot of in my life before – I had sat back and slowly allowed others to make decisions for me. I thought I was a strong person but in reality, I was scared. I was scared of making the wrong decisions in life. I was scared of being on my own. I was scared I wasn’t going to do what I thought we were meant to do in life – buy a house, get married and have kids.
I allowed others to make the decisions for me, so I wouldn’t make the wrong ones. Seems ironic now doesn’t it?
In the process of me taking more control of my life, my marriage fell apart. I wasn’t the same person anymore, I wasn’t submissive, I was becoming strong and independent. I was growing as a person and it meant I was growing apart from my marriage.
The decision to get divorced was mine and it wasn’t entered into lightly. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to be married anymore. I don’t think we fall in love with people immediately, just as I don’t believe we fall out of love immediately.
There were a lot of factors that went into my decision to get divorced. If I’m completely honest a large number of these things existed before we even got married, I just didn’t love myself enough to realise that this wasn’t the right relationship for me.
While I was confident in other areas of my life, like my career, I lacked a lot of self esteem when it came to relationships and actually getting what I wanted out of them.
I was always so focused on making everyone else happy I never even really thought of what made me happy. Then sometimes it takes a big, metaphorical slap in the face to make you realise where you are, what’s happening and that it isn’t the right place for you to be.
I had two options. I could either hide in the corner and play the ‘poor me’ card. Or I could put on my big girl panties and take control of my life.
I chose the latter and I am a much better person because of it.
My divorce forced me to reflect upon who I am. In order to do that, I had to evaluate who I had been because the reality is my marriage failing wasn’t a one sided issue. I had a part in it too. And I had to decide on the person I wanted to be – because I never wanted to go through this again.
My divorce forced me to be painfully honest with myself. I know we are all critical of ourselves but to be critical in a way that drives self-development is a whole new level.
My divorce taught me that family is the most important thing in the world. Your family will stand by you through all the highs and lows. The love from your family will outlast any bad day and even if they don’t understand, they will support you.
My divorce taught me how to ask for help. I felt the need to do everything on my own – that it was my decision to leave my husband so I had to do it all by myself. That wasn’t the case. I had amazing support, all I had to do was ask for help.
My divorce taught me my worth. It taught me that I had to value myself first before I could expect anyone else to value me. It taught me that I am worthy of being loved and people aren’t ‘doing me a favour’ by being in my life.
My divorce taught me that not everything in life goes to plan. We have dreams of what we want our life to be like, what it should look like, how it should be lived. But we don’t usually think of a plan B, or what happens when things don’t go to plan. I’m learning to adjust my outlook on life and to take action when things aren’t working for me.
Divorce isn’t an option for everyone and I don’t think that just because two people change they should get divorced. But it was the only option for me. And I am so grateful for it. I am a far better person because of my divorce. I am a far happier person. And I am a person who now takes control of her own life.
My divorce was the best thing to happen to me and I am so grateful for the experience and life lessons it gave me. Because of it, I am a better mother and a better person.
A version of this post originally appeared on Her View From Home.