By Dawn Lee McKenna. Author, Single Mama, Badass Fave. After years of being divorced, she looks back on that first, vulnerable year and offers a peek at what she's learned since. We love her words, and think you will, too. -Gwen & Lark
Hindsight. We love it. Too bad we can’t have it beforehand. That first year after your divorce can be a real humdinger. So much going on, so many new things, so many emotions. In retrospect, you wish someone would have told you some specifics, as far as the things that get better/easier/gone.
Here’s what I wish I had known during that first year:
1. You don’t have to be perfect all of a sudden.
Sure, people are watching (mainly your ex and your in-laws) to see how you do. That doesn’t mean you have to be superhuman. So stop scrubbing the cat box with your old toothbrush at 3am and forget about getting up an hour early to do your makeup.
2. You’re alone now, not forever.
Yes, you will find someone else one day, if and when you want to. Right now, just find the blessings in being alone. There are plenty.
3. Your mother will get over it.
4. Dating really isn’t dead/all that bad.
Eventually, it even becomes fun.
5. Your bed might seem empty at first…
…but later on, you revel in the fact that the whole thing is yours. The whole thing.
6. You’re about to forge a whole new relationship with your kids.
No matter how good/touchy/close your relationship with your kids is now, there is a bond between single parents and their kids that is amazing and unique only to them.
7. That weight gain/unwanted weight loss will right itself.
The emotional eating will go away. The stress-induced starvation will, too.
8. Forget what you lost, recognize what you’ve gained.
That’s gone, the good and the bad. But a whole new world, full of possibilities that only you get to choose, has opened up to you.
9. Missing him will fade.
Pretty soon, you won’t miss being with him. You might miss being with someone, but that can be fixed.
10. You didn’t fail. Your marriage failed.
You will go on to triumph at other things and one of them might even be marriage.
11. Don’t discount the little things.
Closet space. Your favorite foods on the menu. A bathroom all to yourself. Ugly but comfy jammies. They all matter.
12. Your life is now your design.
It’s not empty, it’s blank. Write a new one.
13. He was an idiot, anyway.
There you go. Someone said it for you.
14. You don’t have to figure it all out this week.
Make mistakes. Take your time. Shelve things for later. Shake it off. Your life just changed completely. You have a lot of new things to learn. Give yourself the patience you’re giving your kids.
15. This too shall pass.
Whatever it is, it’s temporary. Unless it’s good, in which case, you should keep it.
Everything’s new. Things are in upheaval. You’re up one day and down the next. But every day, you are one step closer to a happy and fulfilling new life that you will simply rock. So, take a deep breath and remember that this is just the first week, month, year.