Sunday, July 28, 2013

6 Reasons I'm Grateful For My Divorce

I hung out with my older sister, Katherine, over the weekend. We went for a walk around our hometown with Diet Cokes in hand. She told me -- again -- that she is worried about me and my living situation.

"It's not healthy. The divorce has been final for five months and you're still living together!" Ah, thank you, Big Sister, for stating the obvious!

"Katherine, you might not believe me, but I am the happiest now that I've been in years. Like sometimes I'll just be driving to the grocery store or something and I'll think, 'I can't believe how much happier I am now,'" I replied.

"Even though you still live with Max?" she asked, totally incredulous. "How is that possible!"

I will tell you the secret:

I certainly had a time when I felt really sorry for myself because my bad marriage gave me plenty of good reasons. But once I knew I had to get a divorce, that there was no hope for us because Max had no hope for himself, the confidence and optimism I’d always had started to resurface. 

Over the past six months, I have countless moments when I pause and I think how happy and grateful I am for my new life for reasons such as:

1. I am coming out of something as traumatic as divorce with relatively few scars. Of course I'm going to have my baggage, but I know it could be so much worse. My ex and I don’t hate each other, I’m not forced to move in to my parents’ basement, and I still believe in love. Sadly, I know few divorcees who can say the same.

The view from my picnic.
Not bad, right?
2. I can come and go as I please. I LOVE THIS. Take this weekend as a perfect example of the life I'm meant to have:

Friday -- I had a waterfront picnic at twilight with three girlfriends, complete with baby carrots, cheeses, and white wine. Then I went to another friend’s house for a college-style party, complete with a 72 (?!) cup version of beer pong. It was totally dumb and absolutely hilarious to watch and play. 

Saturday -- I hung out with Katherine her kids, then I got a manicure and pedicure. I spent the evening with a personal pizza, a face mask (masque?), and a deep conditioning treatment for my hair.

Sunday -- After my morning yoga class, I spent the afternoon with Mary, one of my oldest friends, and her fiancé. We ate lunch at an Irish pub then spent two hours on their couch taking bong rips (not kidding) and watching baseball.

To be clear, I did plenty of fun stuff when I was with Max, but not like this, not this varied. And you know what? This is the real me. I’m so appreciative that I’m living my life more fully.

3. I am still healthy. When I was younger, I struggled with terrible self image and had even worse eating habits. I haven’t let my breakup derail (mostly) healthy eating and a (mostly) regular exercise routine and bring me back to that dark period. I cook as much as I can. I signed up for my first half marathon (October 12, 2013!). I can carry groceries or a 17-pound baby. (Probably not both at the same time. I’m that person who walks into door frames and trips over her own feet.) Physically, I can do whatever I’m not too lazy to do. What a blessing.

4. I don’t have children. This one is layered and complicated, but the fact is that it made the divorce decision and experience cleaner and easier because there are no children.

5. I am less judgmental of others’ relationships. I admit it: there was a time where I would’ve looked at someone like me and thought, “Divorced after only three years? [insert eye roll] Either she doesn’t really honor the commitment of marriage or she just gave up too easily.” I’m here to tell you that I very much admire the commitment of marriage and I did not give up too easily! 

Further, if there is one thing I’ve learned, other people’s relationships are not what you think. I mean, people were SHOCKED that Max and I were divorcing, while in my head I was all, “Really? This is surprising? We’ve been screwed up for years!” Since I’ll never truly know what’s going on in someone’s relationship, I must not assume anything. If it took heartache and loss on my end to become less judgmental, so be it.

6. I am maintaining this blog. I neglected my creative writing for many years, and it was high time I dust off the cobwebs and start writing again. This blog has been a wonderful outlet for sorting my feelings and an unexpected venue to connect with people who have either walked a similar path or are curious enough to follow along. So thank you, dear readers, for helping me through my journey and encouraging me to write about it every week!

But, even with all of these reasons for gratitude, let's keep it real. I still struggle with why the master plan had me staying in a dysfunctional relationship for so long. I would be lying if I said I’m grateful for my entire relationship with Max; sometimes I wonder why I didn't end it years ago. Why did I have to go through all the heartache?

So, don’t worry, I haven’t gone totally Pollyanna on you. I’m actively working on accepting why I have gone through all of this, and sometimes I get really pissed off at myself and/or Max. As I do that work, I am also allowing smaller lessons and moments to flood my heart with peace and love… a combination that always brings me back to the greatest feeling of all: gratitude.

As always, I want to hear about your experiences. In the early stages of your breakup, what were you grateful for? If you're years out from your divorce, what are you grateful for now?

Super Sunday Sync


  1. Love this! There is nothing more debilitating than trying to maintain or fix a broken relationship! Even after five years I am still grateful that I had the courage to leave. I hope your friends and family can appreciate your bravery.

  2. I guess if you haven't been through it then it's difficult to understand so I suppose I can see where your sister is coming from on that.

    I understand what you mean when you talk about people being shocked about your divorce. My ex's parents and some of my family said the same thing: "you guys always seemed so happy". The key word is seemed. Eventually his mom said "in the past year it seemed like something was going on between you two". There are always going to be multiple sides to every relationship's story; I feel like I've definitely learned that lesson now.

    In the early stages I was grateful that I could watch whatever I wanted. I could come and go as I pleased. Once I moved I struggled to utilize my independence; I was used to having someone around to "check in with" almost like they were my parent and I realized I was doing that with my oldest sister with whom I lived with for the past 11 months. Being completely on my own has been a wild experience for me (I've never lived alone - ever - until now). I'm grateful for finally being able to have that experience...and the experience of dating.

    I'm extremely grateful that we never had any children or big investments that needed to be divided up. I'm so grateful that we were able to agree on everything and make a clean separation with very little drama.

    I honestly feel that, if it weren't for my separation and divorce, I would not have the jobs I love. I would not have been able to move to be near my family or have met some of the great new people in the past year. At least once per week I sit in my office and think to myself "I am so lucky for all that I have". I don't feel 'stuck' here.

    It sounds weird but I'm grateful for the pain that I endured. There's something about having hit the bottom and climbing back out that changes your view on life, relationships and every day life. I've been living a fuller life and having experiences I would have never had while with my ex.

  3. Great post, Kat!

    If I'm grateful for anything, it's that I now understand what love is for the first time in my life. I realize now that our marriage would have survived, that we would have overcome our differences, if he would have just said to me - I love you anyway. No matter what.

    But, sadly, he either wouldn't or couldn't say that to me. I suspect it's a combination of the two. But I've really had to think about everything that happened, and I know in my heart, that if he could have come to terms with my needs and loved me anyway, that we would still be married.

    It sounds strange, that a divorce would be the thing that teaches me about true love, but life is mysterious that way I guess.

    Also - my divorce was final last week. My battle is over.


    Mustang Sally

  4. Thanks Nancy! Yes, my friends and family have been super supportive through the entire process.

  5. That's an interesting perspective, that divorce teaches you about true love. I'm going to mull that one over...
    And congratulations on the divorce! All the best to you. :)

  6. It's so great that you used a sad and difficult time to make positive changes, from your job to where you live. There's not much more we can do than that!

    And congrats on living alone for the first time! I lived alone for about 2.5 years and I LOVED it. It's very empowering to have your own space and know that you're completely in charge of it.

  7. I really enjoyed this, thank you for sharing. As a divorced 30-something, it took me SO much longer that you to get any kind of perspective, let alone this much. I'm really looking forward to following your journey :)

  8. Thanks Keltie! I'm glad to have you join me.

  9. Good for you. Glad you found the lessons and grew from a painful experience - many people don't.

  10. Thank you. I know that I still have a lot of learning and sorting to do.

  11. How wonderful that you're not harboring bitterness and bad feelings so common with a divorce. I like this post a lot!

  12. I'm doing my best not to! Thanks for reading!

  13. Go you! My first hubby and I divorced 17 years ago, and after about the first month of shock...I was oblivious that he was unhappy. I realized that it was what it was and everything happens for a reason. Happily we have remained friends, mostly for the well being of our son. We both came from divorced families and we didn't want to attach that negativity to our son. We are both remarried and I have two more children from my second marriage. I will never regret my first marriage and look at it as a learning experience. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story!