The storm of a divorce can leave you feeling like you just washed up on the shore of an unknown island after a shipwreck. Disoriented, squinting from the sun, and disheveled. Your first instinct is to find cover and fix your appearance, then you need to learn how to survive with all your scars, on this island of single people. If you are among the lucky ones, you have washed up ashore with a child or two in tow. You embark with them on this journey of growth, love, and transformation. But it is not without great pain and fear that you begin this journey. Learning to love and trust after the storm you have weathered takes a lot of courage, self-love, and trust. Your instinct tells you to protect yourself and children from people around you, not to trust, not to engage, but the sun is encouraging you to relax and heal.
Everyone’s journey is unique after divorce, but it is usually a similar journey of healing, learning to love oneself, and moving beyond the hurt and disappointment of a failed relationship. As soon as I felt I was ready to let love back into my life, I quickly began to feel something was missing/wrong. I was unable to feel content with anyone I met. I didn’t feel confident, worthy, or deserving of love or companionship. Like most people should, I sought professional help to get me quickly back to being myself. The first thing I had to learn was how to love myself, which sounded like the silliest thing in the world. I struggled with this concept for a while. How was I not loving myself? I learned to notice how I let people treat me or what I expected from men that I met. I also began realizing that because I did not love myself properly, I let people treat me less than I would expect someone who wanted to love me, treat me.
Everyone’s journey is unique after divorce…
It was a very enlightening journey of loving myself beyond the conscious realization of relationships with others. Exercise, healthy eating, reading, and enriching spiritual and emotional seminars. Once I was fully able to love myself to capacity, I began feeling more hopeful in allowing love back into my life. With this new stage, I felt very positive and excited for what the future was going to lead me to. The future was like a new island I was ready to explore and create a new life on. Bringing my past experiences as tools and not baggage, they would help me build that purposeful bright future I was envisioning on this island. But alas, the excitement and hopefulness did not come easy, it was abruptly interrupted with new anxieties. I realized I would quickly jump from first date to setting a wedding date — and that sent suitors to the hills!
Naturally, I am a planner, and carrying my planner like a guide in life, I never knew how to really leave plans in God’s hands. It became a blocker in my life and new relationships. I did not know how to enjoy the present because I was always thinking of the future and how or when it was going to be planned out. Working slowly at realizing that I was constantly missing out on the present blessings in front of me, I slowly learned to get to know those I had just met without trying to fit them into my future plans. After meeting someone who was my perfect complement, I learned that his patience with my struggles in learning to live in the present helped me see each day as its own journey and not to jump to the destination I envisioned on my own. Being present on a daily basis also helped me slow down and enjoy every day with my daughter, family, and friends. The struggles of raising my daughter on my own were completely transformed into joyous moments strung together to help me realize the wonderful spirited child I was raising.
I felt that after a failed marriage, I was in a hurry to prove to myself that I was not a complete failure with relationships. I was in such a hurry to prove to myself and the world that I can have the happily ever after I wanted with someone new because this time around I was better prepared. My new partner helped me realize that it was with patience and time that new plants would blossom when their season came. Love after divorce required patience and time to build trust and respect, the foundations of lasting love. This was also true when avoiding pressures of friends and family to rush to the alter once I was “in love.” If you allow people to pick the fruit off your tree before it’s ripe, no one wins. External pressures are never constructive for organic, authentic love to grow. I also learned that love isn’t just a feeling that runs out, but a bond that grows with work. After finding a man with the character and values I believed were important to me, the love was built through understanding and compassion towards each other’s past battles.
Love after divorce is a stronger love. The love towards my ex-husband and his family never ran out, it transformed into a different kind of love. The love for myself and the person I am grew solid as did the foundation of my life. The love for my daughter became patient and present. The love for my new partner and his daughter is full of understanding and patience. In fact, divorce was probably the best thing to happen to someone who thought they understood love. Most importantly, God’s love brought me closer to his creations and filled my heart with an abundance of compassion and understanding of everyone’s battles. To me, divorce was God’s way of teaching me the most important lesson of my life, which can be summed up in Jalaluddin Rumi’s quote: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
If you are going through a divorce or breakup, or you have woken up after the storm disoriented and thinking there is no love to be found, my advice to you – is to seek the barriers that keep you from love and you will find love stronger than ever before.
External pressures are never constructive for organic, authentic love to grow.