I have been blogging here for almost 2 years. That, in itself is pretty unbelievable to me. In that time, I have blogged about a variety of topics. I have blogged about family, friends, music, and music. I have blogged about changes in my life, happiness, and things I have struggled with. Today, I am going to blog about a topic that I have avoided.
I won’t lie, there have been times that I have thought about tackling this topic. I know that I could easily spend a LOT of time on it, but for the purpose of this blog, I won’t. Yes, I am going to write about it, but I am going to attempt to write about it in a way that I will benefit from it. I am going to write about it in hopes that someone else may stumble on this and read it and take away some of the things that I did.
I am going to write this as a constant reminder to myself, and a word of encouragement to those who are going through it, or considering it. I am not going to focus on the negatives, because I already know what that does. Instead, I am going to be truthful and focus on the positives.
I had a phone conversation today. That is what prompted me to sit and write this. You know how when you get married they say, “You aren’t just marrying that person – you’re marrying their family?” The same holds true when a marriage ends in divorce. In some cases, that can be a blessing, while in others, well, not so much. People are going to take sides. Both sides will try to put the blame on the other. Hate grows towards people. Gossip spreads. Stories become tall tales. A division takes place and you “no longer are family.”
I was gently reminded today of how “former family” members felt about me. It was very nonchalant, almost said in passing. It was one of those things that often happens in conversations that start in one place and end in another. A jab here, a jab there, something that is meant to seem like nothing, but in reality is there purposely. The nice thing about where I am today, is that it doesn’t effect me like it used to. I can totally handle it.
You know, with social media today, we have constant reminders of our memories. Facebook memories go back 10 years and remind me of what I was doing or what I posted a decade ago. Some memories are pleasant reminders, while some bring back painful memories. Here is what I have always believed, and I have mentioned it before – I am who I am today, because of where I have been, the people in my past, and the choices I have made.
When a memory of times with “former family” comes up, I see them. I don’t delete them. Why would I? Even if it was something I want to forget, it still happened. Unlike my grandma, who cut out people’s heads in pictures because they did her wrong, I don’t do that. Those are memories. Sadly, I was told years ago to get rid of pictures of some of my exes. I did to make someone else happy, but by doing it, I no longer have any pictures from my prom. Is that fair? No. Your past is responsible for who you are today.
So here is what I need to write about all of this:
Divorce allowed me to find “ME” again!
I was not a pleasant person by the time I got divorced. I was angry. I was confused. I was on so many meds, I am lucky I remembered things. Those meds made me say and do things that I don’t even remember doing. I apologize to those who were affected by that.
Afterward, with the help of therapy and true friends, I found ME again! I was that happy guy who wasn’t on medications. I was enjoying the things I enjoyed before. I was laughing, loving, and LIVING again! I was no longer NUMB. Sure, life still throws curve balls, but that always happens. The difference now is that I am equipped to handle them and think clearly. I am no longer making decisions in a fog – I am ME again! I am in control of ME. Finding me was liberating and encouraged me to do things that I wouldn’t have done in my past situation.
I believed in myself again.
Divorce allowed me to reconnect with people
People used to tell me I was a good friend. That was NOT true in my last marriage. I neglected SO many people. My relationship with my father and my own brother were strained because of my situation. Some of my BEST friends (some from all the way back in high school) never heard from me, unless they called me (and often those calls were cut short because I was forced to end the call). I missed more things than I care to discuss because of that situation. What I felt was important was often trumped by what someone else thought was more important.
Over time I began to leave things like group outings early. Eventually, I stopped going to them all together. I stopped bowling on a league. I always had a “prior engagement” when asked to golf. I sold my DJ business. I got out of radio. I neglected birthdays, anniversaries, parties for friends. No wonder people stopped bothering to call me. I had abandoned them to keep peace.
Thankfully, many of those friends welcomed me back without hesitation after my divorce. They said they understood. They didn’t want to interfere. Sadly, I can never get back that time. Missing events like my Goddaughter’s confirmation, funerals for a friend’s parent who passed away, family holidays, and things like that leave me with feelings of regret. I cannot get those moments back. I was a terrible friend.
Divorce has allowed me to reconnect with friends and family who mean the world to me!
Divorce has allowed me to move past what I cannot control
Specifically, what other people think of me. Sure, you heard all kinds of things about me. I know you think this and that about me, and that is ok. I cannot control what you think of me. You can take the one side of the story, the embellished stories, the second hand gossip and judge away. In truth – you don’t know the truth. You didn’t live my life, so how could you possible know what I went through? Believe what you want. I have no control over that. If you want to truly come to a conclusion based on whatever you hear, well, as George Strait said, I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you!
Admittedly, it is one of the hardest things I had to deal with. I worked on the radio for years. If someone called me and told me I sucked or judged something I did on the air, it bothered me. Same thing here – it bothered me what people were thinking about me. What were others believing? What was being said? Why didn’t they come and ask me? I really let that weigh me down!!
With a lot of help in therapy, I came to realize that no one but me knew what I was going through. No one knew of the struggles that I was dealing with. No one was wise enough to sense the smile I wore in public was fake. No one knew how much I hurt. No one knew how many times I broke down in tears in private. I was the one who finally had to make the choice that I felt was right so NO ONE has the right to judge me for my choices. I took control. I decided that I needed help. I was the one who tried to fix me, because I felt I was the one responsible for the situation and I was the one who was the root of all the problems.
Post divorce I carry on. I live with the choices I have made. I chose to do what makes me happy, with those who make me happy, and I could care less about what people think of me – because I have no control of that. I do, however, have control of ME.
Divorce allowed me to find true love and experience a healthy relationship
I grew up in a home where my parents argued a lot. Perhaps I felt like this was a normal thing in a marriage. Perhaps that is why I always made the assumption that fighting was something that just happened with any marriage. Don’t misunderstand me, I understand that in ANY relationship, there will be disagreements and arguments. In my case, over time, those arguments got more and more heated and happened often in front of the kids. I guess it was when this happened that I knew it wasn’t normal.
All strong relationships take some effort. The thing to remember, is that when both people are committed to each other, are compatible, and truly love each other, the effort that you need to put into the relationship doesn’t feel like work. It is effortless. It just happens. You both care about each other, each other’s opinions, and you genuinely want it to work. It’s not about one upping each other or doing what is best for you – it’s what’s best for US. There is a connection between the two of you. You LISTEN to each other and HEAR each other. You don’t put each other down – you lift each other up.
That is the kind of relationship I have with Sam. We lift each other up. We love each other. We listen to each other. We are honest with each other. We make decisions together. It’s never about “me” or “you”, it is about “US”. What an amazing blessing she is to me. What a blessing our relationship is. When my youngest son looked at me recently and said, “Dad. You are a good husband to Sam,” I almost cried. I hope that they look at what I have now and see it as what a marriage is supposed to be like.
I think waiting to write this has only helped me more. Going through it, moving forward, and then looking back at it. You can look back at it without all the emotions and stuff that cloud your judgment or perception. Looking at it from where I am now, allows me to look at it, with a new perspective. I can move forward and know what to do and NOT do.
Divorce changed me. Going through it made me more aware, and it made me a stronger person. I went through the stress and pain and came out on the other side a wiser person. My therapist probably said it best – “You are not the same person that you were before. Now, you are better!” Yes. I am better. MUCH better.