Tuesday, February 17, 2015

365 Days of Divorce

 I wasn't quite sure what I expected to feel this week because the feelings I had these exact moments a year ago were quite confusing.
When the papers arrived in the mail with the date stamped February 18th, 2014, I knew what they held. In that large manila envelope was a series of paperwork, all signed and dated by a Maricopa County judge.

It was over.

Seven years of the life we had built were over.

Goodbye, commitment.

It all seemed so broken.

But I had been waiting for those papers because I wanted things to move on. I think I figured if those papers came, I could feel a sense of closure and healing.
That didn't happen. 
Instead I panicked. I turned to the comfort of my eating disorder. I started failing classes. I was full of anxiety most days. I cut off my friends and family slowly.
I didn't realize just how badly I was hurting. I didn't realize how much fear was the deciding factor in my daily choices.

This morning, I was on the computer and thinking about a year ago and the 6 months before that where the separation and lawyer meetings and fights and anger and figuring out custody were pretty much running my life. I looked up pictures from that time---I found the pictures I had uploaded 2 days before he left me. None of them had been edited or saved correctly on the computer. I don't think I had looked at them at all since sliding that memory card into the computer that day because two days later, my life was so drastically changed.
My kids seemed so little back then. I wish I could've bottled them up like this and protected them in so many ways. And then I think about it and I'm glad they've gone through it with me because my kids are some of the bravest I know. They have had to learn a lot about themselves throughout the past year and a half.
 The thing about divorce is that you and your ex-spouse are in charge of how things go.
In the beginning, these questions are started with: Who is filing the paperwork? Will you get lawyers? Who stays in the house? How often do the kids go from one house to the other? Who pays the other or is it evenly split? 
Those questions seem kind of obvious with divorce. Everyone has to figure them out.

But then there are the questions such as: What goals do we have after our divorce? Are we working together to keep our kids healthy and loved? Are we fighting in front of them? Are we going to swallow our pride and treat each other with respect? Are we going to allow the kids to be with the both of us in the same room?
 It's confusing sometimes. 
None of those questions were answered in a day. I've thought about all of them multiple times throughout this past year. I've figured out my personal boundaries and then changed them a few times to make sure I feel safe. I've prayed about my childrens' needs and tried my best to make sure they are ok. In fact, that alone has been the cause of a lot of my anxiety.

I want my children to come out of this as emotionally healthy as possible.
 And I believe they will.

Not only because of what I do for them but because of what their dad does for them. I don't need a marriage contract to know that he is a good dad. He has learned to be there for them too.

My anger toward my ex-husband has eased an incredible amount in the past year. I am working on forgiving him and I believe with the help of my Savior and His atonement, I will be able to completely heal and find my heart at peace.
 I really CAN believe it has been this long. In fact, it feels like it's been even longer. I feel like I've been single for years and I'm kind of, sort of, REALLY ready to change that.
But...God's timing is not my timing...and for today, I'm ok with that. Actually, my heart and my brain don't quite agree on what "my timing" should be anyway so I think it's best to just trust that God knows.
In the meantime, we are a year stronger and wiser. I really would never trade these past few years for anything. I know not everyone would say that and it may seem odd. It's not that I WANTED to be divorced---I didn't. But this past year has taught me just how capable I am of being on my own. I have grown up a lot and have become a much better person. I find myself looking at the entire world differently---more lovingly than I did before. I find myself realizing that sometimes the people we think are the meanest and rudest are the people who need us the most. Often times, the people not smiling are hurting inside and are longing for human connection.

Living with empathy is a much better way to live life. I wouldn't change the infertility or the divorce or the many 'disorders' I have on my medical records. Each and every time I am given something, I learn a whole slew of new things and I become a better person than I was before.

It's weird to think that I've only known about The Togetherness Project for a year because those people that I've met have been life-changing for me. It's weird to think that a year ago, I still didn't know why my marriage had ended. That came later. And although I have many days where the effects of my failed marriage haunt me, I know that I am strong enough to live with the memories and even smile when remembering some of them.

It wasn't all bad. In fact, a lot of it was good. 

Most importantly, I am grateful that it all happened. I am grateful for seven years of a marriage. I find myself learning from those experiences every day. I wouldn't change it. That took a while for me to be able to say. For a while, I blamed myself for getting married in the first place. Who does that at 19?!! (just kidding, to all of my teenage married friends) I didn't know if I could forgive myself for making what I had decided was a stupid decision.

But without my marriage, I wouldn't have my children. Without my marriage, I wouldn't have Togetherness or my ward family or the extended in-law family I was able to fall in love with for seven years. And without my divorce, I wouldn't be the person that I currently am. I probably wouldn't be pursuing a bachelors degree in Human Development and a masters degree in Counseling.

It isn't that staying married would've been horrible. It could've been amazing. We had the choice to make it amazing---and we did not both choose for that to happen.

Three hundred and sixty five days of this life---and I have faith that we will all be ok. 


Danielle Dammann said...

I feel this! I've been seperated for a year now, and divorce is almost final...I hope in a year I feel stronger. Right now I can't even describe how I feel. :/

Timmy Larson said...

Going through a divorce makes you develop a character you never thought you had. Changes and growth from each side occur, and may affect you positively or negatively. One thing to keep in mind are the goals you will set for the kids involved. In any case, you have a lot of faith that your children will come out of that just as emotionally healthy as you, and I believe they will. You have a strong and capable family, Suzanne. I think it's time we all take note of that. All the best to you! :)

Timmy Larson

Alfred said...

That whole finishing and end side of things can be so confusing. I remember when my parents got a divorce and it was finally over. But I soon realized that it is never really over. At least when you have children and grandchildren. Both parents are usually involved and it is usually best when they act civil with one another.

Alfred @ Divorce Option