I often hear/read single moms talking about how their ex is much more actively involved in parenting after the divorce. Sometimes that’s associated with resentment and sometimes with wishing that he’d always been that way. Divorce is a wake up call and it isn’t just dads who transform. IronSpineSally calls her divorce a kick in the pants. Here she is:
My life is so different than it was before I was divorced.
I have to say I was always kind of inactive in my life, kind of passive in my life. I would sit around and complain that nothing good was happening to me or happening for me and that I was just going to be miserable and my back wasn’t good or I wasn’t getting better or my job wasn’t good and I didn’t like this or that.
In getting up off my butt and getting out of a bad situation and having to fight through that divorce, even those times when you’re just completely alone, or the times when you’re completely broke or you have to humble yourself and ask for help that you really don’t want to have to do… I guess it was kind of a kick in the pants. If I want my life to be good, I have to go out and make it good. I can’t wait for someone to save me from a situation, I can’t wait for someone to come and tell me what to do.
It’s funny. I was telling my current husband, “I have this interview tonight, I’m going to be home late, the kids have homework to do and they like to do it when I get home…do you think I should wait?” He said, “Why? Are you waiting for me to make your decisions for you because that was your last husband?”
I still tend to do that when I get stressed out. But I think the fact that it’s my life, and the other people in my life don’t have authority over me all of the time, I think that was my biggest breakthrough through the whole thing.
I expected trusting someone else to be a lot harder than it was. I think everybody goes through the “I’m never going to get myself into another relationship ever again” phase when you go through a divorce, and I felt for a while that I had to really project to the world “I’m leaving this relationship because it’s a bad relationship, I’m not leaving it to be with somebody else,” when in reality it was a little bit of both.
It was less learning to trust someone else, and more learning to trust myself and trust my instincts about that person, because once I really woke up to what was happening in my life at the time, before I left my ex-husband, everything everyone said to me was hidden messages. “This person is saying they like this, but they don’t really like it. They’re secretly, quietly resenting me like my ex-husband did for all these years.” I’m still working on that, I’m still in therapy for that, but it was really hard for me to learn to look at my husband and say “I don’t have any bad feelings about him, there isn’t anything about him that I don’t like, that I’m just putting up with. When he says he likes something about me, I have to take him at his word. If he’s upset about something, I have to trust that he’s going to tell me that he’s upset about it and not turn it against me later.”
I know that he’s a sincere person. He’s very what-you-see is what-you-get. He’s not afraid to tell me if he doesn’t agree with something I have to say or he’s unhappy with something. That doesn’t happen often, which is nice, but sometimes, it’s hard for me to take myself out of it, especially when I’m in a stressful situation. This past week I had a miscarriage and I started to think, “I’m laying here on the couch having a miscarriage, but he’s sitting there resenting the fact that I’m not getting up and helping him with the kids or helping him with that” when in fact, that’s not what’s really happening.
So it’s about letting it go and trusting that I know what is right for myself. Trusting that if he became manipulative, then I could get out and I could leave and it would be OK. My life would go on.
The Divorce Coach Says
Wow! … there is one sentence here that is just so powerful:
“It was less learning to trust someone else, and more learning to trust myself.”
This creates a whole different perspective around the trusting someone else issue. What I like about it so much is that because it’s about learning to trust your own judgment, it gives you concrete skills to work on. That’s a structure I can work with and it feeds into so many of the discussions I’ve had during my own, personal dating coaching sessions.
This segment is also a great example of how a person’s environment affects their whole being. Change the environment and the person changes. It’s easier to recognize that for yourself if you’ve previously been in an environment where you’ve thrived and the environment you’re now in is holding you back. If you’ve never experienced “being in charge,” then it’s hard to know what you’re capable of. IronSpineSally got a glimpse of that during her first husband’s deployment and then there was no going back.
Photo credit: RedLoop