The months that came after my divorce was finalized were some of the darkest times of my entire life. My ex-husband continued to try to retain control over me with phone calls, text messages, and stopping by my house from time to time. He would tell me stories about all of the random sex he was having, brag about his new girlfriend, boast about potential job offerings, and would exaggerate how great his life was without me in it. His stories about how well he was doing made me doubt myself. I questioned how much of a role I had in the failure of our marriage; I questioned if I was good enough or if I would ever be good enough.
During the four months that immediately followed my divorce, I was an emotional disaster. I struggled to come to grips with the fact that I was 32 years old and alone. I was in denial that my marriage was over. My body physically hurt, I was depressed. I cried every time I would drive in my car alone, and when I would wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror, my eyes and face were puffy from the tears I cried in bed the night before. When I wasn’t crying, I was anxious. My mind raced non-stop, every second in a downward spiral. The world seemed cold and dark, and I felt betrayed by God. When I thought about my future, it looked blank.
I was utterly hopeless. The depression and anxiety consumed me. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like I couldn’t go on anymore, it was too hard. It had been way too hard, for way too long. There were several times on those solo drives filled with tears where I considered running my car off the road – once into a ditch, once off a bridge, once off the highway. I didn’t care about anyone or anything other than finding a way for the pain that I was feeling to stop, and that was the only way that I could think of to do it. But even so, I would still feel more pain before running my car off the road and I couldn’t handle any more, so I never did it.
This dark person was not me. I had always been a smiley, sunshiny, bright colored wearing, glass-half full kind of gal. One of those dark days, I looked back at pictures of me prior to my marriage on Facebook and Timehop. I looked so happy, and I could feel and remember the happiness I felt. I wished I could go back any one of those moments where I was smiling from ear to ear. And even though finding happiness again seemed impossible in that moment, I took everything I had left inside of me to set out on a mission to bring that happy girl back into my life.
First, I had to take a MAJOR step back from my ex-husband. Him reaching out to me to tell me about his life did me absolutely no good, it only enhanced my suffering. It was a way for him to still have control over me and continue to facilitate emotional and psychological abuse on me. I decided to stop contact with him and limit it to only text messaging when mandatory. It was difficult at first, but that was only because it was a change. With each day that passed, it got surprisingly easier and as the weeks went on, I felt stronger and eventually happier.
Next, I took a step back from everything that had happened and just stopped – I stopped thinking, planning, reassessing, and over-analyzing. I had to stop feeling bad for myself, stop feeling guilty, and stop feeling ashamed. I thought about the things that brought me happiness prior to my marriage and tried to get back to those – things like going to the gym, reading, going for walks on the beach, and spending time with my friends. I started to incorporate those things back into my life and it was so easy. And by doing those things, it allowed me to get out of my own head; I stopped thinking and over-analyzing so much and instead was able to focus on how I felt.
By getting out of my head, I became more appreciative for the positive things in my life. With each day, I would find more things to appreciate than I did the day prior. It could have been something as simple as the sun shining that day or a car stopping for me while I was trying to cross the street. As I became more appreciative of the little things, I became more aware of my own happiness – the light was coming back in my life. With time, my life no longer felt like a vicious downward spiral, but a virtuous uptrend that got better with each day that passed.
If I had to go through it all again, I’m not sure I would survive. But looking back, I had to be broken completely in order to rebuild myself to my new upgraded version. I had to go through the darkness to find a new appreciation for the light. I can’t say I’m truly there yet, but I hope one day to look back on this experience and have appreciation for this process, too. For without it, I wouldn’t be where I am now in my life – I wouldn’t have known my own inner strength, I wouldn’t have broken and healed better than I was before, and I wouldn’t have the appreciation for things as I do. I can hear and listen to my intuition, take pride in bettering myself every day, am more forgiving of myself, and have increased my overall self-awareness. Today, I can honestly say that I have never been in a better place in my life.