I know, I know: You read that headline and instantly think that I am making that statement because I’m so happy to be rid of my idiot/terrible/cuckolding/awful/evil husband. But no. Actually, I was still very much in love with my husband when he ended our marriage, quite out of the blue, when our son was just 10 months old.
The months that followed the night that he turned to me and said, “I’m done with this,” were searingly difficult, fraught with fear, anger, and more crying than I ever believed was possible. And for some reason, I did most of my crying on the kitchen floor, face down, sobbing into the linoleum.
But what was left behind when it was all over was this: A clearer sense of who I really am. A richer gratitude for all in my life that is good. A new appreciation for the fragility of life. And a feeling of being so lucky, lucky that my husband and I were able to let go of each other gently. (Which doesn’t mean we didn’t scream at each other and say awful things from time to time. I’m no saint, people!)
That’s why I say my divorce is the best thing that ever happened to me. It forced me to get seriously, deeply honest with myself, and not hide in the easy escapes of blame, guilt and anger. And as I’m sure you know, blame, guilt and anger are pretty much all that well-meaning friends and family are offering up to you as the best way to get through divorce in one piece.
But before you decide to take their advice and prepare for battle, think about this: Who do you want to be on the other side of all this ugly stuff? How do you want to think of yourself? Do you want to remember being a warrior and yelling the loudest? Do you want to make money your “reward”? Do you want to be angry? Self-righteous? Or wounded?
I decided I didn’t want to be any those things. And that on the other side of this terrible experience I wanted to be a woman who had wisdom, who had lived a few of life’s knocks; I wanted to still truly believe that life is meant to be good, I wanted to be whole and carry my scars with grace. I wanted to be free to start again, whole, healed.
And I kept that woman in my mind’s eye and as every day passed, I kept walking toward her. And one day, after two years of agony, despair, fury, fear and more, it was all over. And I had become her, the woman I always wanted to be.
Maybe you think only someone crazy would say this is what you can expect from divorce. But as in everything in life, divorce is what you make of it. And more importantly, it’s one of those truly rare moments in life where you hold yourself in your hand and question almost every decision you’ve ever made, every idea you’ve ever had about who you are, because someone you love is challenging them.
Take this opportunity to come to know who you really are, and take stock of the person you want to be. This way, you make sure that your divorce isn’t just the end of something. It can also be the beginning of oh, so much more.
Stacy Morrison is author of “Falling Apart In One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce.” She’s also a single mother, a writer, a former magazine editor, and now editor in chief of BlogHer.com, the largest women’s blogging network in the world. Stacy will be speaking at the Expo on Sunday, April 1st.