It’s funny how you can look back on a past event in your life and realize its impact years later. When I was pregnant with my 3rd child and married to my current husband, I had a random day at work where it all hit me. I finally understood what led me to marry a man I knew wasn’t right for me when I was only 23 years old.
When I was in college, I did my last semester abroad on a ship that sailed us around the world while we took classes in between visiting other countries. But two weeks into our trip, we had what is affectionately known to our shipboard community as Wave Day, where we were left (temporarily) stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This near-death experience left me both fearless for my future (I never get nervous on a plane because I figure you probably only have one major brush with disaster, and mine has already happened) but also totally afraid of being alone.
I always thought my life was supposed to follow “the plan” and I needed to get a job, get married, and have kids. Wave Day created a fear in me that made me need to achieve all of those goals NOW. I was so afraid I’d end up alone if I didn’t end up with Jeff, my boyfriend at the time.
I started that trip in love with a man I never saw a future with, just a college boyfriend that I’d say goodbye to when the time came. And then, my brain did a complete one-eighty after Wave Day. I found a way to focus on all the good in this man, even though there were plenty of red flags that should have told a very smart twenty-two-year-old to slow down and take a more objective look at the situation. Was this really the man for me?
And at the end of the day, I decided that two things mattered to me above all else—he made me laugh, and I knew he’d be a great dad one day. The rest, we’d work our way through.
Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out that way, and a happy ending wasn’t in the cards for us. With two little kids at home, ages one and three, I was all alone and couldn’t find any books on the market for how to be a single mom to toddlers or how to explain to someone so small that dad wasn’t coming home.
I was incredibly judgmental about divorce prior to going through my own experience, and even now. It’s hard when our lives are so private, and people only see what we want to show on social media. It’s hard not to judge. I’ve led a divorce support group twice, and I still find myself wondering why things ended. But I also learned that (almost) every story is really painful and justified. The simple reminder to be kind to others floats through my mind. You never know what someone else is going through—despite was social media says.
And so, I started writing. What started out as a helpful tool for single moms evolved to a memoir of the crazy things I went through, the lessons learned along the way, and how I got to the place I am today—very happily remarried to an angel of a man and one more baby.
Life isn’t perfect, but that tiny human is. And I’m so grateful for every experience I had over the last ten years.
I learned that there’s no such thing as a happy ending. But it’s important to remain optimistic and hold on to hope when things look bleak and scary. That, somehow down the line, you’re going to come out of this blackhole, and life is going to feel good again.
One day, you’ll wake up and realize you haven’t cried for a whole week. Then, a whole month. You’ll realize that you have the energy to devote to more than just your emotions. That you can be a good parent, a good friend, and a good daughter again. And life will feel good. It won’t be perfect, and there’s no promise that heartbreak won’t come again. But when the moment is good, live in it.
I like to think I’m healed from the trauma of my first marriage, but then a song will come on when I’m alone in my car, and I’ll find myself in tears. It feels like a way to keep healing and learning from my past. It reminds me how strong I am and what an incredibly blessed life I’ve been given.
I hope that if you can see yourself within my journey that it helps you realize you aren’t alone. So many go through what I went through, and while our situations may not be the same—the story, the feeling, the pain—I find that we all generally go through the same stuff. And it helps to know you aren’t alone.
Excerpt taken and modified from my book, The Other Side of the Door
I love this blog post! How you have highlighted the importance of having a partner but that not having one…
Thank you for sharing!
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I know! It’s been a lot for them to maneuver! Sweet kids!!