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Getting Divorced Is About More Than Just Ending a Marriage

Photograph by Twenty20

Something I've learned through my divorce journey has been life-changing: Ending your marriage is about a lot more than no longer being married to your spouse. When I realized this, and was able to accept it, that's when I started seeing and learning some pretty amazing truths about myself that enabled me to move on in a healthier way.

The truth is, when you first decide to go your separate ways and end your marriage, you are very focused on what it will feel like to be without a partner: Will I be lonely? How will it affect my kids? What will our friends think?

After all the newness wears off and you settle into your new life (and I promise, you will settle, even if it feels like you never will), a lot of stuff continues to come up. You want it to slow down so you can catch your breath, but if you don't deal with the stuff, it will keep showing up.

I kept myself busy so I didn't have to listen to the voices in my head trying to tell me to stop and feel and listen. It took me over a year to get that I was only able to truly heal after I sat in the quiet and listened to what my emotions were trying to tell me.

The self-discovery you find along the way will break you open.

Getting divorced makes you realize you aren't perfect. It forces you to take a long, hard look at yourself and the part you played in your marriage. I'm not talking about making yourself feel guilty and self-loathing. I'm talking about signs that came up early in your relationship that you didn't listen to. Maybe you were an enabler, codependent or married someone you knew wasn't right but you'd hoped they would change. Or maybe you were blindsided by something they did, and you've had to start over and learn how to trust people again. Whatever the reasons, this experience will change you. Let it.

Getting divorced makes you take a look at your childhood and realize you may have some old childhood wounds that still need healing. It can be a big eye-opener and let you know you still have work to do on yourself. Please do it. You are worth it.

Getting divorced makes you face a big fear we all have: going through hard things alone. Sure, there are family and friends who offer support, but there are times you just have to face things alone. It's scary. There's nothing like having the comfort of a partner who supports you and shares the same home as you. But you can go it alone, really.

Getting divorced makes you realize strengths you never had. I'm not just talking about fixing the kitchen sink, as awesome as those victories are. I'm talking about the dark, lonely times when you think no one could possibly understand how hard this is. You feel helpless and beyond repair, but then, you get through it. You will wake up one day and realize you are different, you are stronger, you are more aware and, most importantly, you are still here.

A lot of people stay because leaving a marriage feels really hard, and it is. The self-discovery you find along the way will break you open. The beauty here is you get to put yourself back together that way you want.

I can tell you, as someone who has been through it: It's worth it.

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