As I sit here peacefully listening to the birds chirping, my kids are with their dad for the weekend, and I can’t help but reflect on the last 4 years plus. It just so happened that a Facebook memory popped up of me and my daughter 6 years ago. I sent it to her right away as it was a “bring your child to work day” pic of me and her in my classroom when I was a 6th grade teacher. After her first initial response of, “Aww, we were so cute”, she said something that truly hit me. She said, “That’s not your genuine smile. It doesn’t even look like you”. And it didn’t.
That picture was taken at a time in my life when I was struggling to be happy but just didn’t know how, or the first thing about true happiness. I cared way more back then about what I looked like on the outside. I never felt enough, no matter how pretty or fit I was. Or how big my house was. Or which car I drove. It was a time when my spirit was heavy and the darkness penetrated right through that picture.
About 6 months ago, I wrote an article titled, “4 Reasons Why Your Kids Will be Fine After Divorce”. Needless to say, it stirred up lots of talk and controversy for those choosing to stay in their marriage so they don’t “screw” up their kids. I read the comments about how “divorce messes everyone up” and how I was “selfish for going after my own happiness”, and everything in between. I read each comment and had compassion for everyone that wrote them. I understood they were coming from their own perception of divorce. I also realized there were many that were scared to leave their unhappy marriage so they resented any other person who did. And I respected that. Some brought up the counterargument of growing up in an unhappy home and how that affects the children even more. The picture that popped up today emphasized that point exactly.
My kids don’t just love me after the divorce. They actually like me, which to me may be even more important. Before I got a divorce, I was empty inside. I didn’t know what made me happy. I didn’t know who I was. I listened to a man tell me what I could or could not spend. I had someone else directing my wants and dreams. I looked for stimulation on the outside because I couldn’t get it on the inside. Truth is, I didn’t like myself very much let alone love myself! I wasn’t in love with my partner, nor myself. Does this create positive energy for all those involved? Does this sound like a mom that could make other little people truly happy? Does this sound like a mom that could teach her kids about self-love and going after their dreams? Does this sound like a mom that could teach her daughters not to rely on a man financially? No. It doesn’t. This was a selfish mom. A mom that was so bored with life and unfulfilled that she constantly had to look for ways to get away. Whether it was work, school. gym, or friends, I always had something to do. After I fulfilled my “obligatory” mother duties like putting out the Easter baskets for the night – I would look to run out and get away. I wanted to be anywhere but there. Unfortunately, I am speaking the truth. I painted a really pretty picture on the outside. We all looked a certain way. The way a happy home looks. But none of it was authentic.
After the divorce, I am not going to sit here saying it was perfect and easy. It was a hell of a lot of work. Work that some people choose to avoid because that’s how challenging it is. I don’t judge those people. I get them. I understand it’s not part of their journey. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have an extra appreciation for the fact that I did get the courage to leave. That it was part of my journey. That I do know what the other side of that life looks like. I consider myself the lucky one when others may look at me as the crazy one. I get it. Most would think I was crazy to leave the life that I had. It looked great! On. The. Outside. What I did after my divorce is what I wish for everyone else out there. I created a life that finally feels good on the inside, rather than looks good on the outside. And quite honestly, I think I did even better. I created both! It looks and feels damn good! And that right there is how I managed to raise kids that actually like me after a divorce.
My kids still like me even after a divorce because through me, they are truly finding themselves.
My kids had no choice but to join me on this journey of mine into self-love and happiness after the divorce. When things were tough, I talked to them. I checked in with them. I tried my best to allow them to feel in the midst of all of it. I talked about my own feelings and admitted my faults. I went to seminars on self-love and manifestation and came home and talked to them about all of it. I shared books with them. I created vision boards with them. I taught them compassion. I taught them happiness by filling myself up with it. I finally understood all of my past childhood trauma and healed. This helped to heal us too. I saw how all of my past beliefs about myself and the way the world works were only that. Beliefs. They weren’t real. Therefore, I had the ability to change them and create the life I truly wanted rather than the one I thought I was just given. In doing so, I began to slowly shift our whole entire world one piece at a time.
READ MORE: What Our Kids Really Need From US After Divorce
The four of us, my three kids and myself, wanted to live by the beach when I was first divorced. We made a pact and said the only way we would move out of the town we lived in was if we found our cute little house by the beach. Slowly but surely, with a couple of detours, that dream became a reality. I promised them I would never just bring any guy around them that wasn’t something truly special, and I did just that. And today, life wouldn’t be the same without our Gary, G-baby, Garbear, like they joke and call him. He has brought so much added fun and joy to our home and their lives, as well as support and love. My daughter told me she wouldn’t want me to still be married to her dad because then she wouldn’t have Gary. I couldn’t have brought this much joy into their lives had I not figured out how to fill myself up with it first. Had I not learned to truly love and honor myself first. Had I not gone after true love in all forms.
My daughter told me my spirit is different today. I am genuinely happy now. I am at peace. I find love all around me and in everything I do. My son comes home from college now telling me how he manifested this, and manifested that. He began to seek his own truth and find his own power, without me shoving it down his throat. He grew up with me in that environment in the past few years. He now understands me and thanks me for being who I was for him. My other daughter told me she still likes me because she knew I would always love her no matter what. She knew just because we weren’t a nuclear family, she was still always loved by her mom and her dad and her needs were always met. My kids still like me even after a divorce because through me, they are truly finding themselves. They are owning their own power, seeing that nothing is impossible, dreaming in amazement as they watch all of my dreams come true. They are truly learning how to love themselves. To me, all of my own pain and struggle in loving myself was worth it just for them. The best part is that just as much as they like me, I adore them. Today, there’s no place I’d rather be than snuggled up on the couch with all of them by my side. When I finally stopped needing outside things to make me happy, I was able to appreciate all of the love I already had beside me and within me.
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