“We all have a bag. We all pack differently. Some of us are traveling light. Some of us are secret hoarders who’ve never parted with a memory in our lives. I think we are all called to figure out how to carry our bag to the best of our ability, how to unpack it, and how to face the mess. I think part of growing up is learning how to sit down on the floor with all of your things, and figuring out what to take with you and what to leave behind.” -Hannah Brencher
I never in my life thought that I would be divorced. In my mind, I always thought from the moment that I said, “I do,” that it would be “til’ death.” Literally. Instead, forever ended up being a little over 3 years. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I had failed. The shame I felt was so suffocating at times that I felt as though it would consume me. One of my friends who went through a divorce shortly after I did, sent me the aforementioned quote and it resonated so strongly with me. It was up to me to decide what I was going to carry with me in my “bag” following my divorce. I could allow the shame to further debilitate me, or I could make the conscious decision to sit down, rifle through my “bag,” and decide what needed to be left behind and what I needed to carry forward. I knew that I didn’t want to be the “woman scorned” going forward. I knew that “hurt people hurt people,” and I knew that I did not want to be someone who mishandled someone’s heart unintentionally (or intentionally) because I had not taken the time I needed to heal. I was determined that the only thing I would carry forward from my divorce would be the lessons learned along the way.
Facing the mess of what is in the bag is hard work. It took countless nights of going into my prayer corner and crying out to GOD, ugly crying until I had nothing left, and journaling. I cried and prayed. Prayed and cried. I knew that the process would be hard, but man! I had never felt so raw and exposed in my life. There were times the vulnerability was so intense that I would have crawled out of my skin to escape had it been physically possible. The feeling of not being “enough” was something like I had never felt before in my life. It made me question whether I was enough in other aspects of my life, which was something new.
Journaling was so cathartic through the healing process. It allowed me to be brutally honest with myself about my marriage and the manner in which it ended. Here are the biggest lessons I learned along the way:
- Be better. Not bitter. The ending of a relationship can invoke a lot of anger. However, anger is a secondary emotion. It often masks what you are truly feeling whether it be shame, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment, etc. Call out your feelings. Give them a name. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling. There is no timeframe on the healing process. Once you can fully understand what you are feeling, you will be better able to process what you are feeling and the anger will eventually start to dissipate.
- I. AM. Enough. I am worthy of love and worthy to be loved. My love is more than enough. Going through the divorce process made me feel less than, and those feelings started to trickle over into other areas of my life. I started to question my decision making and whether I was a good judge of character. Deep down, I knew that I was, but was uncertain about hot
- I am NOT my failures. Being divorced does not define me. Is it a part of who I am? Absolutely! When I look back over my life, this chapter will always and forever be a part of my story. It’s a part of my book. No regrets! I walked away knowing that I did my part. I poured my heart and soul into my marriage and that was all I could do.
- What someone thinks of me is really none of my business. For a while, I was terrified that people would think that I had just “walked away” from my marriage, that I had given up. Then it dawned on me…..who cares? Anyone who thinks that clearly does not know my character. It is easy to make judgments of someone’s situation when you aren’t in it. Thankfully, I am incredibly blessed to have amazing friends and family that love and support me and truly know me!
- It is ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS ok to love yourself more! I had reached a point where I was pouring so much of myself into my marriage trying to make it work that I lost sight of myself. I had nothing left to give myself, and that was reflected in my physical and emotional well-being. There is a beauty to loving openly and whole-heartedly, but it should not come at the expense of your own peace of mind.
For those of you that might be in the midst of a divorce, hang in there! The ache you feel in your heart will eventually get better. The pain will not always be so strong. But please! I beg of you! Do. The. Work. Sit in prayer and reflection. Process through the loss. Allow yourself time to grieve and mourn the loss of what you thought your forever would be. There is no fault in that. If you are struggling to process it on your own, I suggest getting a licensed therapist that can assist you through the process. There is no shame in doing what needs to be done so that you can be the best version of yourself. Remember, it is up to you what you decide to pack in your “bag.” It can remain heavy from the past trauma of your marriage ending, or it can be lighter and full of the lessons learned along the way. Be blessed!