Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “divorce”

5 Years

May 1 would have been my 5 year wedding anniversary.

I started this blog after my marriage ended and I was in the long process of divorce. Finding my voice was a huge part of the process of working through the unexpected life change– writing myself back into life, as it were. It’s amazing to me how much has changed in those 5 years and where life is now– in a committed, loving, honest relationship with an amazing man and his son, working away at a career, figuring out new family dynamics without Dad, and so on. Much has changed, but yet I’m still at the same job and living in the same house, but as much as those things are the same, they are also wildly different.

I don’t talk about why the marriage ended when it did or the various circumstances of that not only because I try to maintain a certain level of privacy online, but because it’s not fair to my ex-husband. I loved him once and the years spent with him, both good and bad, were important in our formation as human beings. And frankly, what happens between two people is their business.

I wrote about the divorce process a lot on the Stratejoy blog, about how I was figuring out who I was and what I wanted out of life. A lot of the personal growth and self-discovery of the past few years has brought me to this point in life today, but it mostly taught me that it’s an evolving process of developing into the person we want to be. We’re never fully cooked.

I still don’t have much of a clue about what the next five years look like, but I’m increasingly okay with this idea. I know that life changes in an instant and am trying to enjoy what I can while I can. Mostly, I’m opening myself up to possibilities, experiences, and setting up for opportunities so when something comes along, I’m ready to take on what’s next.

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Finality

Today is the official day my divorce is final. I actually thought it was this coming Friday the 14th but in my counting 120 days from my court date, I omitted that two months had 31 days, so here I am, officially divorced.

I will be reclaiming my single name ( FYI, I very much dislike the term ‘maiden name’ for reasons that are far longer than to include on here) and still have to go through that process again of going to Social Security, DMV, and submitting paperwork to banks, credit cards, etc.  with the name change. It was a pain in the arse the first time around, though I did it willingly. When I got married, I took my ex husband’s last name because I wanted the unity of a family name with him and any future family we had together. I know a few divorced gals who have kept their married names post divorce, frequently because of their children, but for me, I want to go back to my original name– something I’ve been doing for just about a year now on  everything but official documents.

This day is incredibly anti-climatic and perhaps that’s fitting as well in going with the amicable way that things ended with us. I’ve heard many stories of people who hold divorce parties or name reclaiming ceremonies, but I don’t think I will be having a celebration for that. One reason is finding the time- my September got busy real quick- but also because it seems a bit sad to me too. I am happy that the door is just about closed on that part of my life and that I ( and he) can move forward to what we want our futures to be. But it is sad that our marriage ended- especially because both of us believed so strongly in marriage, led by the amazing examples of our parents, grandparents, and other friends and family. We loved each other a great deal- I don’t doubt that- and while I can look back now with clear hindsight and perspective at where things went wrong or the cracks that existed before we got married, there was no 1 event that caused the breakup or something crazy that people would talk about. Having a party to celebrate the end of something that was at one point my happiness, seems off to me.

There are so many things that occur to me now that I’m “divorced”- one is that, as with every other person who believes in love and marriage- is that, obviously, you never thought you would be in this position. In fact, I can remember wondering when all my friends were getting married before me about who the first to get divorced would be- not because I didn’t belong strongly in their love and relationships, but mostly because of the statistics in this country of marriage success rates, I figured it would happen to one of us, but never once thinking that one would be me. The irony is not lost that it is me- and perhaps that- as well as a conversation that my exhusband and I had about divorce in our early days of dating- was a great deal of literary foreshadowing in the story of my life.

When things were at their worst in my relationship, when marriage counseling left me feeling empty and confused, the thing I struggled with the most was not thinking about life alone or what my family would think ( though of course those things entered my brain), but I would get so worked up about saying the words “I am divorced” or checking off the “divorced/separated” option on surveys or personal information sheets. It’s such a tiny thing, but I struggled with that the most. I think that’s what has taken me a good portion of the past year to get over too- my being okay with the words and much less my concern over public perception of it. Any of my worries about what people would think were so secondary to the feelings and disdain I had for myself for awhile about the whole situation.

The divorce has shown me things about myself  I would not have known otherwise– and while I embracing my new self, it is a lesson I wish I could have gained in other ways and obviously, a lesson I wish I knew before I was married. This past year I’ve done a lot of self discovery- which can be a real bitch sometimes. The results are great, but working through it all feels a heck of a lot like teenage angst all over again. Breakups of a relationship are hard, but when the breakup is from something you thought was ‘until death do you part,’ it pulls you apart in ways you can’t imagine.

My divorce has taught me I knew nothing about love, loss, and living again. It taught me that I have the ability to love myself in ways I never allowed myself before. It taught me what relationships should and should not be and what I want for a partner. After all the tears and frustration of the past year, divorce has made me believe more strongly in the institution of marriage than I did before. I took marriage as a given in my life, never questioning it. That was something that was a crack in my relationship before I was married that not only did I ignore, I never even thought about. I didn’t really ponder what I wanted a marriage to look like until I was in it- and at that point, it became clear that my vision of life and a relationship were vastly different than the person who I chose to live it with.

Of all this though, my divorce taught me that I was literally coasting through life, going to the next milestone, without actually living each day on its own. I was always looking forward to what was next. I was on the track without every thinking about my place on it and if I wanted it. I followed the path of so many people before me- and while there is nothing wrong with that- I never stopped to think about what I wanted or WHY I wanted it. Throwing myself into my career and pushing myself professionally was the only place where I was really succeeding and living to the fullest, but I allowed myself no way to dream, wonder and ponder what it was that I wanted after 5pm. I never took big risks or a leap of faith for something I wanted.

I can’t say that now I am this changed person who leaps before she looks and plans and that I live each day as my last. I’m not there yet- and I’m not sure if it’s 100% in my makeup to be that person who makes big life changes. I made a HUGE life change with a divorce, living alone for the first time ever, and trying to maintain a home on my own. It might be safe to a lot of people, but it is the most fearful thing I have ever done in my life. I don’t want to make any big life changes for awhile- I want to live the life I’m creating everyday and figure it out as I go, be kind to myself, and allow myself to heal and to grow into the life I stood up and chose for myself.

 

 

 

My New Year Begins

I don’t know the exact date that my exhusband and I decided to separate, but a year ago I know was when we began to go public with our decision to end our marriage. The details of this decision are private and it would be unfair to him and to our relationship/marriage to discuss them in this way, as well as the fact that I created this blog as a space for my new life and self-discovery, leaving that aspect of my life as one of the many experiences that shapes me into the Kristen I am today.

Just as I was frustrated and annoyed with my lack of motivation and frustration, I read some things that helped change my perspective, stop being in denial, and think about the things that were annoying me. At that same point too, the last of my ex husband’s items left my house and he surrendered his keys. I guess the literal stuff was bogging me down more than I let myself believe.

It’s been a year- a year of tears, anger, excitement, new discoveries, disappointments and connections. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I finally have a handle on things, which is the thing I have been in search of for too long. There will always be new challenges and obstacles- and I still face a few more before I can officially close the Divorce Book- but the next items are more the annoying aspects of paperwork and name change and less emotional upheaval.

It’s also a time to express sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the world- family near and far, friends, coworkers, online people I have never met in person but helped me through the worst year and a half of my life. Even when I was physically alone in my house, I knew a “listening” ear was only a click away.

August and September of last year were the months of tears and unsettling feelings like I had never known. A year later, they are the months of finality and clarity. I own the house by myself. The divorce is finalized. I will change my name. It seems fitting then that to not only celebrate that, but also to push myself to action- sort of a New Year’s Resolutions in the Fall- to remind myself of why I stood up for myself and for my life, and to not lose sight of who I am– and want to be–again.

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