If any of us sat down to write a list of good things or things to be thankful for, I would wager that few of us would look at divorce as a positive life experience. Divorce is about as stressful as enduring the death of a loved one, and it’s the act that severs the sacred marital bonds of a husband and wife.
What could be good about that?
I doubt any little girl identifies getting divorced when she grows up as a life goal. Let’s face it, divorce is something we try to avoid, and it tends to be dreaded as much as disease or other undesirable experiences like a tax audit, getting mugged, or wrecking our car. Yet, as I write this, I can quite honestly say that I am thankful for my divorce!
To be clear, I did not enjoy or wish for the grueling and expensive process of the legal proceedings. I did not relish watching my marriage evaporate along with all the dreams I had for my family. I have not appreciated mandatory time away from my kids or the struggles of rebuilding my life after losing it all. Yet, here I am still contending that I am thankful for my divorce!
So, is it okay to be grateful for your divorce? I say “yes!” Not only am I grateful for other things that I have in my life such as my beautiful kids, a roof over my head, my health, and good friends; but, divorce had some unexpected silver linings that I am truly thankful for!
If you’re in the divorced or verge-of-divorced club, you may know what I mean about how a marriage situation can be so broken, bad, and dysfunctional that divorce becomes the potion or salve you would do anything to get your hands on to soothe the burn and make the pain go away. When it’s that bad, it can seem as though even breathing is a struggle.
Still being attached to a person who seems to exist for the sole purpose of causing us harm and who sucks the life out of us can finally drive us to beg for it to be over and to anticipate our day in court as if it were Christmas Day! I can remember walking out of the courthouse on the day of my divorce feeling like a thousand-pound weight had been lifted off my back. I would still have to co-parent with my ex, but he could no longer affect every minute of every day or every aspect of my life. I was free!
The more my life untangled from my ex’s, the more I began to appreciate so many things that I now had the ability to direct for myself. While many steps of starting over were overwhelming, I found immense satisfaction in learning to do for myself, great pride in my ability to take care of my children, and renewed strength and enthusiasm I gained from each triumph, big or small.
“If I failed, I failed, but I would no longer be held below water by the missteps of my former husband.”
It was seriously empowering to feel my confidence, competence, and strength grow! I transformed from a woman who wasn’t sure if she even wanted to live and was unsure that she could survive to one who was able to advocate for herself and was increasingly less afraid to step out of her comfort zone to try new things. The feeling was made so much more compelling due to the fact that my destiny was no longer tied to the mistakes or habits of another. If I failed, I failed, but I would no longer be held below water by the missteps of my former husband.
Everyone has annoying behaviors and bad habits; however, when someone is hurtful to us or on our last nerve, things like globs of toothpaste left in the sink or snores disrupting nighttime sleep can become extra offensive. While I could literally sing from the mountaintops with joy (ala Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music) at the mere thought of never having to clean up after my wasband’s messes again, I am even more relieved to be detached from darker fragments of his personality that destroyed our relationship and tortured me in a secret prison of shame.
Divorce can be the saving grace to deliver us from addiction, abuse, infidelity, lies, and other dark forces that we were blind to when we took our vows. Many of us never knew the full truth of the life we signed on for and became trapped in perversions and shadows that we never imagined. Although finding ourselves in divorce court with the one we once loved is unlikely to be our intended outcome, a detour through unexpected madness is enough to make us seek the light again!
If beauty is to be found within the experience of divorce, it is most likely discovered on the path ahead. Have you ever heard the saying “don’t look back, you’re not going that way”? That quote is full of truth because the future is full of promise, and it’s all up to us to determine what course the road from divorce will take. What we seek is no longer in the past or tied to situations we are no longer invested in or control.
Late in my marriage, I felt so discouraged about life that I wasn’t sure I had anything to look forward to. My children were still quite young, and I couldn’t imagine what ten or more years with my husband would be like, nor what the effect would be on my kids to grow up in a dysfunctional home. Divorce was my unlikely salvation. It was painful, but the promise that it held was a chance for a do-over and to do it right this time!
Now that I am past the rubble of my divorce, I am able to see the freshness of a clean start and the possibilities that lie ahead of me. It’s as though I have been given a present. I didn’t want to open it when it was first given to me; but, now that I have, I have renewed optimism and enthusiasm for what tomorrow may bring!
Appreciation isn’t always offered for what we might expect. I certainly never thought that divorce would be worth my gratitude, but it has resulted in being one of the best things that ever happened to me! Some gifts don’t come in the prettiest packages or may take time for us to recognize their potential and value. One thing that I know for sure is that divorce gave me an opportunity to become a stronger and better person, and now anything is possible!
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