By Audrey Cade
One thing that we all come to learn about life, is that it’s everchanging! We either learn to adapt and go with the flow, or we find ourselves trampled under the feet of progress, miserable because we don’t like the way things are. Anytime something in our life changes, there’s always some anticipation before the event (sometimes excitement, and other times dread), then an adjustment period while we regain our footing and become accustomed to the changes.
It doesn’t matter whether a change is something we initiated or not, there will always be at least a few bumps in the road! In some ways, we may long for the way it used to be as we transition into our new reality; but, with a positive attitude and open mind the new often fades the old ways into a mere memory.
One such transition in my life was when I became a single mom after divorce. I was used to being a missus. My identity was intertwined with being someone else’s partner, sharing a home and a life with them, and adjusting my every action to compliment his. My life in the final years of my marriage began to feel more like a prison because many of the essential ingredients for a healthy marriage had evaporated; therefore, the opportunity to regain my freedom, happiness, and sense of self again became an enticing option after divorce. As much as I anticipated establishing my own home, away from him, and having a fresh start to begin to live life as I feel I was always intended, I couldn’t help but also be fearful of the unknown.
Would I be lonely? Most likely no lonelier than while married, because he essentially ignored me! How will I handle problems and situations I had never dealt with before? I don’t know, but what I’m living right now is so awful that I’ll figure it out! Can I fully support myself and the kids on my own? I think so. I’m scared. But, I have to make this work!
I didn’t always do it right; but, the important thing is that I tried, I learned, and I gained confidence.
My questions gave way to learning the answers through living. It certainly wasn’t always easy, but I discovered that I’m every bit as tough as I need to be to survive about anything! Yes, sometimes it was really quiet, especially when the kids were with their dad; but, I learned to find my inner voice again in the peaceful moments, which allowed me to appreciate them more when they returned. I didn’t always have someone else to do things with; so, it forced me to get to know myself again, which was important because I re-centered my priorities and reflected on what happened in my marriage, and what I wanted out of life.
Was I a pro at conquering any maintenance mishap? Nope, but I learned to become more resourceful and expand my skillset. I improved my ability to either ask for help, or jump in and solve a problem. I didn’t always do it right; but, the important thing is that I tried, I learned, and I gained confidence.
Were there moments I feared that that I wouldn’t make rent? You bet, and don’t think I didn’t cry at night, sell things, and seriously freak out; but, we survived! This was yet another learning experience for me to make wiser choices, and create a safety net for myself.
The truth is that I really enjoyed being single. I relished doing everything exactly the way I wanted. I came and went as I pleased, I ate, dressed, decorated, and amused myself at my direction, and I answered to no one!
Part of me mourned not being in a relationship; but, I recognized that I was better off loving myself than being trapped with the wrong person! I was intrigued by the idea of what life could be like with the right person, and how much I might enjoy a companion and co-captain for my life.
I recognized that I was better off loving myself than being trapped with the wrong person!
When the right man did come into my life, I adjusted my independent ways to accommodate another person’s personality, preferences, time, and needs. I treasured the freedom I had gained, and held on tight to advocating for my needs and wants. The experience I gained from a bad marriage and a divorce made me cautious to ever let my guard down enough to let another person run over my rights again! My heart was open to the idea of loving again; but, I knew better than to blindly hand myself over to someone who might abuse my gift.
Another life change was inevitable. I considered it to be a positive thing in my life to relinquish my single status to, once again, become a wife. Singleness offered me a perspective that could appreciate both what I could stand to lose, as well as gain, by committing myself to another serious relationship. I anticipated the transition with hope and excitement; but, of course, I had fears and questions as anyone would before such a major move:
What if this is a mistake? I don’t want to go through that again! I can make an informed decision with the benefit of wisdom that I’ve gained through my former situation; but, there’s no way to ever know exactly what the future holds. I can never expect to achieve happiness in marriage without taking a calculated risk, then live life to the fullest! Does what I could gain by getting married again outweigh the benefits of my independence? For me, I wouldn’t marry again if it meant sacrificing any of the strength, freedom or self-respect I gained for myself.
Am I prepared to make this marriage work, when my last one failed? I discovered that it’s imperative to be able to answer this question with a big “Yes!” I did plenty of soul searching to analyze the roots of my divorce so that I could own my part in that situation and learn from my mistakes; but, also be more aware of red flags to watch for in my new partner and have a better idea of what I need from him.
My happiness does not depend on my marital status. I find happiness in my marriage, but I first needed to find happiness within myself.
Re-marriage has been a blessing in my life! I would not be able to fully appreciate the man or partner my husband is without having first experienced the pain and disappointment of a bad husband and dysfunctional marriage. I would also not be able to appreciate the depth of how fulfilling marriage can be without experiencing the joys and sorrows of singledom.
One of the most important lessons I learned is that my happiness does not depend on my marital status. I find happiness in my marriage, but I first needed to find happiness within myself! Whether I am a single or married woman, the essence of who I am will always remain firmly attached to who I am as a person, a mother, and a woman who is continually learning and growing! There is beauty and joy to be found in both singleness or marriage, and the choice to do one or the other belongs entirely to the woman who makes it!
I wouldn’t trade either experience for anything because both have helped to shape me into the person I am today! Whether I decided to re-marry after my divorce or not, it is certain that life would have continued to hand me new challenges and experiences for me to adapt to. Change will be my companion for as long as I draw breath, and I welcome what challenges she will lay before me!
About the Author
Audrey Cade is the author of “Divorce Matters: help for hurting hearts and why divorce is sometimes the best decision” (on Amazon) and the matriarch of a blended family of eight. She is an experienced “divorce warrior” in the areas of co-parenting, step parenting, parental alienation, and re-marriage, and enjoys sharing these experiences with others who are also committed to raising happy and healthy kids. Audrey’s professional experience is as a case manager social worker with the developmentally disabled, families with young children, and homeless populations. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education, Human Service & Management, and a Master’s in Psychology. She enjoys family outings, a variety of arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, and writing. She is a featured blogger for Divorced Moms, has work regularly appearing on Divorce Force, and articles appearing in Step Mom Magazine, The Good Men Project, and others.