When you are going through a divorce, you are painfully aware of what you are losing. It’s hard to see anything positive coming from what you are going through. From personal experience, I fully believe you just have to get through that period, and listen to those who tell you, “It gets better.” Because it does. It really does.
It’s been about three years since my divorce was final, but if this is your season of life, I hope that as you are reading, you will grab a big handful of hope that it will get better for you, too.
Here are some things that I lost, and what I gained, in my divorce:
I lost my house.
We moved from Houston, Texas, back to Des Moines, Iowa, where I grew up. I lost a beautiful 2200 square foot house that my children knew as their only home. I lost a neighborhood that I loved and proximity to some wonderful neighbors. I lost a garden where my kids and I grew our own vegetables and where working with the blooms and produce almost year-round brightened my mood.
What I gained is a home.
A home where I am not constantly belittled, controlled, and intimidated in front of my kids. I gained a home were the adults work together and build each other up. I also gained life-long friends, that even over a distance of 1,000 miles, still check in and keep in touch.
I lost the ability to be a stay-at-home mom.
I realized when my first child was 4 1/2 months old and I had to leave him for that first day back to work that this was not what I wanted. The desire to devote my time to this new little bundle of joy, and not to go to a job every day, spread over my whole being. This hit me by surprise, because I had never, ever, considered staying at home before I actually became a mother.
What I gained is ingenuity.
I need to work now to make ends meet, but that doesn’t mean I need to work all the time. I have found various jobs working part-time so that I can be with my kids, take them to school, be there when they are done, still have summers free, and focus on being a mom. I’m not getting rich, by any means, but I am amazed by how God has provided and allowed me to find the income I need to make things work.
I lost a few important relationships.
I understand that blood is thicker than water and that some people don’t want to get caught in the middle. However, it felt like the people with whom I had lost a relationship knew better, and I was thrown for a loop when they made a choice to enable things to happen the way they did. I have never in my life experienced the ending of a friendship or relationship like that. Losing those relationships, in many ways, was harder than losing my marriage relationship, because my grieving of the loss of my marriage took place over the course of several years leading up to the actual event. But, this loss came suddenly, and all at once.
What I gained is true friendship.
For every relationship I lost, I have gained dozens of true friends I would have never had otherwise. Only God could have orchestrated the chain of events that let to the bonds that I have felt with other single moms who find themselves wanting to belong to a group that “gets it.” I have been so blessed by the friendships I have gained since my divorce, and the realization that I would not have these friends otherwise is not lost on me. Also, something happens to an established relationship when you go through some tough, really honest, raw, dark times. They become stronger. I am thankful for that.
I lost “the dream.”
You know, the dream of growing old with your best friend. Of building a life together. I felt like I had done all the hard work of building my family up from nothing and should be living on Easy Street. Nope, all gone. I had lost this dream early on in my marriage, but fought with tooth and nail to get it back. It didn’t work, and that was a tough pill to swallow.
What I gained is a new dream.
One that is much more vague and flexible, but full of faith that what is meant to be will come to fruition. Although I don’t know what my life will look like in the years to come, I know my story will not be wasted. God has a way of turning trials into triumphs. And I will gladly (well, I will try to gladly) accept my trials because I know it’s growing me into the woman He wants me to be.
I lost my kids.
Well, not really. But kind of. You see, when I signed up for this Mom Gig, I didn’t sign up for 70%, I signed up 100%. All in. I knew the moment I became a mother that this was something I have always wanted, and I would work as hard as I could to be the best that I could. Those little humans depended on it. If I am honest, one of the main reasons I stayed in my marriage so long is because I couldn’t imagine my kids having to go with their dad for visitation. I felt like I was protecting them by staying in the marriage. Especially given the reasons behind my divorce, I didn’t think that I should have to give up any time with my boys. Unfortunately, I do, and that has been the hardest part of everything divorce. It is so hard to let them go. Every time. Even three years later.
What I gained is free time.
And a new perspective. For the first time in over seven years, I didn’t have to set up an appointment a month in advance with the boys’ dad just to have some time to myself. I can have some uninterrupted cleaning time, writing time, or time to binge-watch Netflix. I get time to be an adult, a friend, a sister, a daughter. It took me a while to embrace this free time, and I have to admit, I still don’t appreciate it as much as I would like to, but at the same time, I have come a LONG way from where I started. I try to use this free time to get things done or just to recharge.
Like I mentioned before, when facing divorce and all that that entails, the sense of loss can be overwhelming. But, now that I’ve had more time separating me from the event, I have been able to see that even though I may have lost a few things because of my failed marriage, what I have gained is immeasurably more.