It is often said that the first year after divorce is considerably toughest year. I can partially agree with most critics on the subject matter, however, a few years before deciding to make the big split I had already come to terms that the relationship no longer possessed the elements that it needed to survive. While making the decision to divorce was weight lifting for me, I had no choice but to witness how it would affect my children in a sense.
It was in a Walmart parking lot one night while waiting for my mother to return from shopping that I looked my at my two children in their beautiful fawn like eyes and professed the promise that “our family would live a very different life than the present one we were facing” As you can imagine this was easier said than done. One month prior to the divorce my son was diagnosed with autism, and my daughter really struggled to come to grips that her father would no longer be in the household with us. There were times that I had to stretch a $30 budget for an entire week. I spent nights crying over my son worried if he would ever speak. It felt like I was being held captive in an infinite loop of uncontrollable trials that I would never get relief from.
As I reflect on those times I realized that my second year as a single mother looked very different from the first and the five powerful lessons that I extracted from my second year really helped me to appreciate all the challenges endured in the first.
1. You’re stronger, smarter, and more innovative than you think you are.
After the ink dries on the divorce papers, many of us blame ourselves for the failure of marriage. We replay the mistakes made and even have regrets of being married in the first place. We feel we have let our children down in some ways. The self shaming, depression, and other negative emotions plague us in the first year. Taking the time out to explore what you did right, takes the weight off dwelling on your new found past. Maybe you got your degree, learned a new skill, got a promotion on your job or embarked on new victories keeps your thoughts in positive constraints by where you are growing and the possibilities for a brighter future.
2. Situations are temporal.
I love the opening narrative of A Tale of Two Cities that says “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. This line speaks to me in a way that says somewhere people are going through great times, in others maybe not so great. However, those times were confined to time, space, and the energy surrounding it. I was able to reflect on the times my children and I spent, how much we truly laughed and spent quality time in the midst of some of the toughest transitions of that first year. With our second year having such a large contrast from the first, as a parent, I was able to teach my children the important lessons of earnest hard work, love, and determination. Theses lessons would not have had the same effectiveness if in fact there were no distinction of the times shifting for us. Whether it be two years or ten years…no situation in life lasts forever.
3. Mind over Matter Truly Matters
When I embarked on the journey to fulfill my promise to my children to afford them a more stable life, I packed up a truck and with $346.57 drove them to Mcdonough, GA from Texas. The entire drive down sparked a myriad of emotions for me. I was terrified of not having a support-system, no family to help me. I was excited for new beginnings. I was nervous that the entire journey would be a huge fail. When I turned the key to our new apartment, I remember saying to myself, I didn’t come all this way to fail! One way or several I WILL make this work. Sometimes it takes stripping ourselves of certain comforts to see certain successes. My not having a support system pushed me to really focus on rebuilding our lives. There were no crutches, no fall backs, and no other options.
4. People on your journey may decide to take the nearest exit.
One of the biggest allies when going through major shifts in our lives are our friends and family circles. However, by way of differences of views and other happenstances, the circle may narrow to a complete close. In my second year as a single parent I noticed the friends that some of my closest confidants started to distance themselves. At first it wasn’t noticeable but has I journeyed on I realized that I had put considerable miles behind me in that regard. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that your growth and their growth is on different paths and you as an individual must respect their need for distance and space and focus on your development. It may turn out to be a great advantage for you in the future.
5. Comfort in the Uncomfortable…
This lesson by far was a lesson that will stand close to my heart for years to come. Divorcing after 15 years was the most uncomfortable reality that I had to face in my life to date. Explaining to my young children what was happening, even worse. However, there was a part of me was comforted that I was embarking on a new journey of change for the better.
Many of the successes and wins we experience are defined by the actions of our present . As each of us push forward through new territories, we can reflect on the lessons of the past for inspiration, support and the strength to push forward!
Bernadette D. Chambers is a 6-figure remote career professional and Global Digital Marketing Instructor based in Atlanta, Ga. Sign up for weekly tips on how to scale your remote career on her website at www.thelimitlessmom.com