Divorce sucks. Whether you’re 20, 30, 40, or even 50 you never really imagine yourself going through it. Coming from a split family I was always determined and had a mindset that divorce would never be an option for me. I was hellbent and determined to make my marriage last until death do us part. Unfortunately, marriage wasn’t quite what I expected, although being only 19 I only expected it to be some fairy tale where I got to cook and bake all day. Kind of like Leave it to Beaver, minus all the cleaning.
I was so young and so naive. But then I found myself 23 years old, signing on the dotted line of a divorce agreement and figuring out the easiest way to get my maiden name back. I had no clue where to start, for the past 3 years my identity solely came from being someone’s wife and a mom. I just had to take a deep breath, and take one look at my son , and I knew that I would do everything in my power to give him the best life possible. Even if the best life possible meant starting over from scratch and dividing weekends between mom and dad’s house.
Being a bit of a perfectionist failure is not something that I like. I used to try and convince myself that I was living in a fairy tale by posting to social media about how wonderful my life was. The only thing I failed to realize was that I wasn’t really trying to convince anyone but myself. When you try to force something that’s just not working, you really can’t be surprised when it blows up in your face. The past couple of years have been trial and error in how to find myself again and be a single mom in her twenties, while keeping the peace amongst a split family. I’m proud to say that we made it through pretty amicable and I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Every. Single. Thing. I don’t think I would be the same 25 year old sitting here today had I not went through a failed marriage so early on in life.
So in an attempt to help another twenty something who might be going through this same situation, here are a few of the most important lessons I learned through trial and error of a twenty-something divorce:
- Accept responsibility. It would be so easy for me to sit here and point my finger and list all of the things the other person did wrong. I could place all of the blame on him, or I could take responsibility for things I did that contributed to the failure of my marriage. There’s no itemized list, we never kept a tally chart, but each person should take responsibility for their contribution to it.
- Don’t visit the past. No matter how many times you think of something you could have or should have done differently, the past is the past and that’s exactly where it should stay. It’s easy to go back to something that was comfortable, and something that you knew, but moving forward is a step for growth. Just because you weren’t right for each other, doesn’t mean you won’t be right for someone else in the future. Keep it moving and be patient.
- Talk is cheap. You can listen to 1,000 promises spoken by someone, but unless they actually do the work to PROVE it then you’re both wasting your time. It’s easy to be vulnerable and fall for someone telling you sweet things and promising you that they will change, but unless they make the effort and put in the work then nothing will change. Nothing.
- Keep your private life private. Be very careful and very guarded with your relationships and who you discuss it with. Not everyone listens to your problems with a good intent, some will sadly use it against you. Even people you think are your friends might twist your words for their advantage so remember that not everyone needs to know your business. Unless it’s someone you trust wholeheartedly keep it to yourself or give it to God.
- Forgiveness is for yourself. I always used to hear this in church and never fully understood the power and effectiveness of forgiveness until I became older. You can’t really move on with your life until you forgive whatever it is that’s holding you back. Forgive them for being human, forgive yourself, and then move on. If you don’t learn to do this you will hold every person in your future accountable for the mistakes of your past.
- Embrace the journey. You don’t truly find yourself until you lose yourself. Any type of life change small or big will have an effect on your character. I can promise you one thing, the person you are going into a marriage will not be the same person that emerges from a divorce. You have TWO choices, you can let it make you bitter or you can let it make you better.
- Get a hobby. But really, a little independence is a necessity. You will find that you need some “me time” whether it’s a hobby, or spending time with your friends. While we’re at it, make sure you’re hanging with friends that support your relationship and not friends that bash it. Friends have a much greater influence on us than we’d like to admit so make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who keep you with a positive mindset.
- Trust your gut. People will eventually show you who they truly are, you just have to wait for it. I really do try and give people the benefit of the doubt, but when they show their true colors I never ignore it. If you have a bad feeling about it, don’t ignore it. Address it, adjust your focus, and decide if it’s something you can tolerate. If it’s not, don’t compromise your standards for something that’s not truly meant to be for you.
- Just because it’s a mess, doesn’t mean it has to be messy. Totally makes sense right? You might think it’s a mess, you might be emotional, but DON’T make it any more of a mess than it has to be. You really have to grow up and suck up your pride. I was determined to NOT end up like one of those bickering couples who argue constantly, always speak badly of each other and can’t even be in the same room or event for their child. I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled and failed at this quite a few times, but luckily we co-parent amicably and for that I’m thankful. Keep it drama free and life is so much easier.
- This is just the end of a chapter. Your story isn’t over, not even close. Fill the pages with adventures, experiences, and lots of memories. Life is so unexpected and always changing so embrace it! This may be the ending of a marriage, but it’s not the ending of your LIFE. Learn from it, grow from it, and move on from it. Guard your heart for a while and make sure not to rush into something you’re not sure about. Breathe, relax, and get ready for the beginning of a whole new journey.