Were you like me? Did you daydream about how your life would turn out? Would you marry your prince charming and raise beautiful children together? Be present for your children as they progress though all the stages of life? Be a stay at home mom? Be totally spontaneous and decide last minute to go on some fun mini family vacation out of state? Have one of those wooden signs hanging above your door with your last name and the words ‘established 20??’ via Pintrest style? Would you be pregnant at the same time as your sister or cousin or best friend and really bond together over that shared experience?
These are some of the dreams I had growing up and especially after I was proposed to. I used to daydream of the life I wanted to have, everything being so perfect. That is not how things turned out for me. Instead I married an abuser, we are divorced and have one child whom we co-parent (sometimes well, sometimes not). Since my son was one year old I have sent him to his dads house for visitation and I haven’t had the privilege of being involved in every facet of him growing up. I have missed out on loosing teeth, boy scouts ceremonies, caring for him during illnesses, being the first to take him to a movie he was looking forward to in the movie theater (sounds silly, but ask other single parents, it’s kind of a big deal), and many, many things that I don’t even know I missed. I work a full time job while I grow my business and I have taken on a second job here and there as needed. Per the divorce decree, I have to inform my ex 30 days before I take our son out of state. I have no ‘established’ wooden sign hanging above my door. I had one pregnancy and never got to experience it at the same time as a sister or friend.
I have spent many nights crying over these lost dreams, things I always wanted and never got. There are some things I have since let go as never going to happen and there are some that I still hope and pray for. A few weeks ago I was talking to a woman who was asking for help for her sister who had recently left an abusive situation, and she said one of the hardest things for this sister was learning to live in a new normal, and I instantly knew exactly what she was talking about. In the years since my divorce I have found some things to help navigate the new normal.
Trust In The Greater Good
Whatever it is you believe in, God, Buddha, the Universe, Karma, what ever your higher power is, trust that if you keep believing in a better life, keeping dreaming for the life you want, keeping speaking words of growth and encouragement, what it is you have lost will in fact be restored. There is truth in the fact that whatever it is we concentrate on, focus on, dream about, and think about is what will happen for us in our life. So why didn’t things work out for me the way I thought? I look at this two fold.
Part of being alive on this planet right now is learning the lessons we want to learn and are meant to learn. In order for us to learn something as divine as forgiveness, someone has to do something to us to be forgiven for. How can you forgive if you have never experienced something that needs forgiving for? Why did I have to experience a domestic violence marriage and following, a divorce? Maybe so I could create an even better marriage after. Maybe so I could know how to help others who experience it. Maybe so I could learn forgiveness, understanding and love. Maybe because I am the person who could help stop the cycle of abuse from my ex husbands family from continuing forward in my sons life. It could be any of these reasons, all of these reasons or reasons I am not yet wise enough to know. I trust that there is a divine reason.
Before I did marry my ex, I had this nagging feeling that maybe I shouldn’t do it, but he seemed so great and I couldn’t actually place my finger on any reason why not. I talked to my mom about it, and she agreed that he was a great guy and that I probably just had cold feet. I think that it really was my subconscious seeing the truth about my ex and trying to give me a warning signal, maybe it was even a small whisper from my higher power saying ‘this one isn’t the one.’ But I was 20 and thinking that since I had lived in seven states across the country, I was preparing to graduate with my associates degree, and that I was a mature 20 year old, I was ready for marriage and all would be well. Even on my wedding day I had doubts on the way to and during the ceremony. Clues I should have listened to. After my divorce, I thought of my divorce as the end to my life. Who would want to date someone who had a failed marriage? Who would want to date someone with a kid? All these other people I knew (family and friends) had long successful marriages, what was wrong with me? Now I look at my divorce as a gift of freedom and life from the uniformed decision of a naive 20 year old. I am grateful I am no longer married to the man who treated me with little respect and more like an object than a person. I now have the gift to move forward in my life with love and respect, love and respect that I now give to myself.
The bonus? Universe, God, Life, has a knack for knowing what is better for us than we do, and the gift of restoration. Yes, I miss out on the children I could have had, I am sad for the companionship I lost. When I look at my life now, I find in addition to my son from my ex husband, I am blessed with the two sweet children my boyfriend brings into our relationship, and I am blessed with a healthy relationship in which I feel encouraged and safe to be myself. I was blessed with time to enjoy my 20’s and make and meet wonderful friends. Not bad for messing up in choosing my spouse the first time around.
Mourn and Let It Go
Go ahead and go there. Imagine what might have been. Imagine what could have been acknowledge what you feel you have lost. Even when leaving a relationship for your own safety or the safety of your children, there is still a loss and still a reason to mourn. Allow yourself that time and space and don’t feel guilty for your grief, Write a list of all the things you feel you will never experience and all the things you have lost because of your divorce. Maybe it’s your house, maybe it’s having to share the kids, maybe it’s having to work now to support your family. As you write feel the emotions that come with each item on your list. Feel the loss, the anger, the sorrow, allow yourself to cry, allow yourself to yell. And then in a safe, controlled environment, (like in a grill or a coffee tin) burn that page. The burning is symbolic of you letting go of that life and starting fresh, anew.
Find New Dreams
Part of the process of buying a new car or a new home, is giving the other one up. You may love that old car, maybe it was your first car and you have been through a lot together, you’ve got memories and nostalgia built up with this car. Buying a new one is scary and exciting at the same time. The new one has new features, it drives differently, it breaks differently, you have a lot to get used to, including the unknown. Same thing with your new dreams, once you let the old dreams or life go, you get to create new ones. These new dreams can be frightening and feel different, you have a lot to get used to. But you get to create them however you like. You have the power. Dream big dreams. Create a vision board with all the amazing things and goals you want. Remember with a vision board, make things quantifiable, you need to have a measurable goal for yourself. Something like ‘Be a better mom’ could be replaced with ‘complete a parenting course’ and once one vision is achieved, you get to replace it with a new one. You are the author of your future, go out and make it amazing.