This is my last post in Julia’s series and talking about her greatest accomplishment seems like a good way to wrap up. For a woman who’s overcome emotional control/abuse, obtained her master’s and school principal’s license and undergone weight loss surgery while raising two children, just a year apart in age, Julia has accomplished much. When I asked her the question though, she said none of those was what she thought was most significant. Here’s Julia:
I think making it through those first couple of years, buying my house, making it over, having it be mine, having the kids there and having them be happy at least when they were with me, I think that was my biggest accomplishment.
There had been so many rules. I wasn’t allowed to have any kind of floral print, not even a brocade that’s within the fabric. When we were still living together and I was preparing to move, I’d bought a floral comforter and I’d taken it up to the bed because I knew I was getting the bed. I put it all over the bed, just to see how it looked and it was awesome. Then I took it off and put it back in the container. He came home that night and after he saw the floral comforter, he said,
“It’s really over.”
And I said,
“Yeah, it’s really over.”
I had a book that I loved, and I buy it now for friends going through divorce. It’s called The Courage to be a Single Mother by Sheila Ellison. I felt like she was in my minivan with me when I was crying because of this or that.
I had a lot of really great friends but the people who I count as my closest confidantes are all single moms. When I started to surround myself with single moms, it was like we were all these Mother Bears and we still are. We just know what each other is going through.
When my kids don’t want to go to their dad’s and I know they’re there and I know they’re miserable and my daughter’s texting me how miserable she is and I feel sad, those moms understand what’s going on. I found these people who I can call 24×7 and they’re there for me. That’s been really important to me.
Religion helped a lot too. I was really active at church for a number of years. I was singing in the choir. It was so fun and so wonderful. It’s was bringing me back to something I really, really loved. I never really found time for myself, as a parent, as a single parent, as a married person. I didn’t really ever do anything for myself so the times I’m able to do something like that really made me feel good. I know that seeing me happy also made the kids feel good.
I think I’m so lucky now that nine days out of fourteen, my kids live in a situation where they feel respected, the feel comfortable to have emotions or feelings and I’m glad I’m able to do that. I am really glad I’m not still with my ex.
The Divorce Coach Says
That Julia can win awards teaching, succeed at a concurrent program for a master’s and principal license, undergo weight-loss surgery, fight custody battles and still see her most significant accomplishment as pulling her life together for herself and her children, underscores to me how very hard it is go through divorce. Other ladies, such as Elise (who compared divorce to cancer) have have also ranked significant successes below “just surviving through it.”
And when I hear people say ‘divorce is too easy,’ this is the part I think they’re missing. Even if the legal process goes smoothly the healing can take a long, long time.
Going back to activities that have brought us fulfillment and enjoyment in the past is also a common healing strategy. I don’t know if it’s something we do intentionally or something draws us subconsciously. I do know that as women, we often give up those activities as the demands on our time as mothers and wives increase.
I used to love to downhill ski. When I first came to the U.S. I was just in awe that I could actually go skiing for a weekend. I loved it and it was through skiing that I met my husband. During our marriage, we skied almost every other weekend but gradually over the years as I was juggling my career, motherhood and being a wife, it became a chore. It was not fun. I haven’t skied now for about five years. That’s going to change this weekend and I. am. so. excited. I want to ski. I’m smiling, practically giggling at the thought. I can’t wait. I know that some people may find this hard to understand but there is so much emotional baggage tied up with skiing for me. It may seem like a simple weekend away with girlfriends on the outside but on the inside, it’s so much more. This is a deep part of my healing and I’m ready for it.
Was there an activity you rediscovered after your divorce that helped you heal?