Gratitude. It’s a difficult exercise when you’re going through a divorce like mine, which drags on for years and can suddenly suck out all the energy and joy of a beautiful day.
On the surface, I’ve lost a lot. But I’ve been thinking about some of the good things I’ve gained in the past 2.5 years. I’m a little surprised by my list. These are really and truly gifts.
1. The Truth: No more lies. I tell the truth, and I expect others to tell me the truth.
2. Independence: I can do all sorts of things myself. I can fix a garbage disposal and pay the taxes; fly across the country and drive 1,000 miles with two little kids; throw a baseball as well as the dads, and hold family meetings all by myself. I can pretty much do anything that my soon-to-be-ex-husband can do. And I do most of these things better, since I actually pay attention.
3. Boundaries: Everyone stops asking you for favors when you’re getting a divorce. Soon you start to realize that your quality of life is vastly improved when you’re not running around like a lunatic trying to please everyone. So now I help out when I can, but I no longer always feel obligated to donate, volunteer, show up, or listen. I can say no without guilt.
4. Authenticity: I rarely pretend everything is okay when it’s not anymore. I’ve learned that appearances don’t mean a thing — my soon-to-be-ex and I looked pretty good on the surface. I’m not perfect, and everyone knows it now — my marriage could be an exhibit in Brene Brown’s Museum of Epic Failure. Also after facing real problems, I learned quickly that gossiping and social climbing are empty, soul-sucking pursuits.
5. Vulnerability: This is a hard one for me, but I try my hardest to show up, be vulnerable, and lean in to all situations. My reward is deeper connections. Since my divorce, people have shared so many important and personal things with me, and for this I’m grateful.
6. Confidence: I have learned that when I step outside my comfort zone, I will be okay after all. From speaking in public to standing up for myself in front of lawyers and evaluators, I can do all sorts of things I never thought possible just two years ago.
7. Health: My free time is my free time — running, time outdoors, hikes with my children, walks with friends. Plenty of sleep. Good food. I take care of myself and my children.
8. Compassion and Self-Compassion: My little children know that “Only God is perfect,” but I guess I missed this message until halfway through my divorce. Now I know it: none of us is perfect — and on top of that, anything can happen to anyone at any time. My divorce has made me more compassionate, first towards others, and finally towards myself.
9. Creativity: When I stopped worrying what everyone else thought of me, I started getting creative. And if nothing else, this divorce has given me some good material.
10. Freedom: Sink or swim, it’s all up to me now. I refuse to google my soon-to-be-ex, or feel embarrassed by him, or be held back by him anymore. Pretty amazing.