10 Unexpected Gifts I Discovered Through My Divorce


By Heather Angiletta

I do not advocate divorce. It sucks. It is a dream killer that will likely rip you into one thousand pieces.

But if you are at a point grappling whether your marriage is where you should be (and have done couples counseling, individual counseling, dealt with your own shit, given it time, and generally tried to step up and make it work), then I have something I want to tell you.

The process of making your decision is the worst it will be. Grappling with what to do and whether ending is a better option than staying is as hard as it will get. Giving up on your hopes, dreams, script and security is the most punishment you will face.

The worries, the fears, the self-doubt, the guilt, those are hard, hard times. The women I know who have decided to end their marriages, whether that took months or years or decades, all agree that the most difficult time was that dark abyss of making the decision. You blame yourself, you blame them, you try harder, you wish they tried harder, you wonder what if, and you wonder what will be.

But when for some reason your process has unfolded and led you to a place where you decide that splitting is the path, then I have some good news. The pain and heart ache actually can produce some amazing benefits that you never saw coming. Truly, you will grow from your suffering.

Here are the ten gifts I am grateful for as a result of deciding to divorce.

1. You see the troops rally.

Your imagination of life after divorce is a lonely one. What you will find is that kind, supportive people come out of the woodworks. You will get texts and emails from people that shock you when they hear the ‘news’. Invitations for drinks and lunch you never would have expected appear. A team will rally behind you that you never saw coming or constructed consciously. People are good like that and they will be kind and help you.

2. Only the good survive.

As much as the good and kind people will surprise you, so will the shitty ones. Some people will simply not be there for you. Others might judge or say exactly the wrong thing. Some may be the troops rallying for your ex. Some of it will hurt and be surprising and make you want to scream and slit tires. But in the end, you will have weeded out the ones that weren’t there for you and be left with those who love and support you no matter what.

3. Grooming is Optional.

Everyone has their own dating process post-split. For some they want to get back there and date and mate. Others (like myself) want to hermit and rebuild internally. Whichever your choice, you are now presenting and grooming yourself based on your needs. I personally am thrilled that I can notice after weeks that I haven’t shaved my legs and I didn’t need to. I know other good friends who for the first time in a while are excited to wax and tan and blow it out (hair that is) and show the world how fricking hot they are. Whatever path, you can do what you want with your body.

4. You can Start from Scratch.

During the decision to split inevitable thoughts turn to loss. About all you have built, about all you have to give up, about the things and constructs you will no longer have. The idea of starting over can be terrifying. But flip that on its head and look at it differently as starting over. You have a chance to do things differently. You can create whatever new life you want. That is a rare and unique opportunity that should be embraced, not feared.

5. You have Dealt with ‘Failure’.

Leaving a marriage doesn’t mean you failed, but it can really feel that way. There are so many things you can look back on that you could have done differently. You wonder how you could have done better. You have to face the world in a legal and public way and say something didn’t go as you planned and you couldn’t fix it. Accepting this is a wonderful lesson. Especially because you see that you are ok anyway and no one really cares.

6. Nothing can Hurt You.

You have cried alone in a closet with a bottle of wine. Or maybe that was just me. But you know pain. You know hurt. You have done dark. And you came out of it and survived. I hope you give yourself credit for what you have been through and the courage it takes to rip your life apart in the hopes for something better. That is strength. And now you know you are one badass and you have seen it. Bring it world, you have firsthand experience that you can handle shit.

7. You can be You.

Whether we realize it or not, sometimes we tone down parts of our self and inflate others in response to partnership. In a healthy partnership this can lead to amazing things and blossoming. In a not so healthy one that was probably on the path to divorce this tendency can lead to the subversion of our real and greatest selves. I stopped dancing in the kitchen and saying fuck, telling jokes, and loving fully and openly. It’s not just about eating ice cream in the bath tub as a single person, it’s about remembering and inviting back the authentic you. You get the chance to get back in touch with you and make friends with that person again.

8. You had to Look in the Mirror, Hard.

Few people (bless them) can honestly say that they were their best selves in the time leading to their divorce. I was an angry, mean, and explosive person I didn’t recognize. I was furious at my husband for not loving me. I had to look hard in the mirror and ask myself whether I loved myself, and whether I could learn to deal with negative emotions in a less reactive and wiser manner. No matter what, it is highly unlikely that the source of your ending marriage rests with only the other person. Take the opportunity to see what baggage and issues you brought to the dynamic and use the split to address them. Learning about you is a great gift the other person has given you.

9. You Learn to Ask for Help.

I hate asking for help. I find it uncomfortable to be the one initiating plans. But you have to sink or swim post-divorce. There are people just dying to be of help to you, out of love for you or their own enjoyment of having something to offer. Let them. Reach out. Feel ok about it. And look for chances in the future when you can do the same for others.

10. It is All ok.

You might stay up at night believing it will never ever be ok. Everything is ruined, all is lost, it will never be ok again. After divorce you learn it is ok, surprisingly. You realize it will always be ok. Life has its ups and downs and is not the linear positive trend you were taught to strive for, but it is still ok. Fall down, get up. Do it again. And again. And then laugh. And know it is and will always be ok.

Heather is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via pexels}

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