... is a vast understatement.
This time last year the girls and I were preparing to move into our little house and start a new chapter. My ex and I were navigating the tricky footing of what we hoped to be an amicable divorce. We stumbled. More than a few times.
But to be able to confidently say today that we are not only civil but pretty friendly, have actually talked each other through dating post-split and reassured each other that our girls know how much we both love them, is worth everything.
You hear so many horrible stories about divorce. I was lucky enough to know some amazingly strong women who talked me through it, my "divorce sherpas". They returned my sobbing voicemails and texts and gave me this road map to get through. My friend Hana said "This is going to be as good or as bad as you both make it" and that advice has been invaluable. Not just for my kids, but for myself - I was with my ex for 12 years and I did not want to carry any ill will forward. This new place in my life is too full of promise.
I have become pretty philosophical about marriage, naturally. I don't think I will ever get married again. Not because I don't believe in monogamy or commitment, but I don't feel the need to enter into a contract with someone I love. Too often, marriage seems to become this false safety net, making it ok for you to take your partner for granted, to not make them feel loved and happy and get that in return. Marriage is a weird proposition anyway, from a biological standpoint.
My parents have been married 30+ years and are still completely in love and each others best friend. I love that. My sisters are also in happy marriages. My girls get the benefit of seeing that not one shoe fits all, that love is what you make it.
I mention my divorce to people I meet and the usual response is "I'm so sorry" to which I reply, "Don't be, I'm not!" It's frustrating to me that this is usually perceived that my ex was awful, that I'm shaking off some awful guy. He is not. He's a great father, friend, person. He's just not who I was meant to be with for the rest of my life, and I'm not who he was supposed to be with either. And we are both good with that. And so are our kids.
Divorce doesn't have to be traumatizing. Or contentious. You will have to learn to hold your tongue, to check any knee-jerk reactions, to communicate differently, to be open to not fitting into a mold, and to respect not only your new independence but your ex-partners as well. Your ex-partners new love interests don't have to be your enemy, and they shouldn't be.
I have had 2 women approach me who are contemplating divorce too. I've listened to them and tried to remain impartial but support them in any way I can. It's passing on this crazy idea, that divorce isn't a bad word, that it doesn't mean sadness and a failure. It can be happiness and a peace that you've been searching for. Done with good intentions it can be a learning experience and an opportunity to grow. Done with good intentions it can be the new start that saves the rest of your life.