I was SO angry in the months following my divorce.
I’ve NEVER experienced feelings SO intense.
I didn’t know what to do with them.
I didn’t know how to manage them.
I didn’t know what was happening.
“Where TF are these feelings coming from? And WHY are they SO intense?”, I used to think.
I would fall asleep crying my eyes out and wake up much the same.
I have NO clue how I survived.
I THOUGHT I was strong and tough….but I learned that I wasn’t. I needed a support team to help me get through this.
I couldn’t go through this on my own.
For ONCE in my life, I would have to ask for help.
Help is HARD to ask for, isn’t it?
For me, asking for help is INCREDIBLY hard.
Delegating at work, not so much, but being vulnerable and asking someone to sit with me, cry with me, and support me while I was a hot mess is something entirely different.
Emotional support is a different kind of support.
It meant I’d have to open up and share how I’m feeling. It meant I would have to let others in. I couldn’t stay closed off anymore if I was going to heal emotionally.
Being married for 21 years had taught me many things.
Being married and unhealthy for most of it taught me things like how to build walls around my heart, how to live in constant fight-flight mode, and how to live in a state of being emotionally closed off.
I had chosen NOT to work through the hurts and wounds from my past, trauma as a kid, and other “stuff.” All this equated to operating very independently. (Don’t mistake being independent with being resourceful or a free-thinking problem solver – they are very different.)
Everything I did, except for family time and traveling, was on my own. I had grown accustomed to making choices without talking with or asking anyone. For me, marriage was like I lived with a roommate; we slept in the same bed and ate together, but there was zero emotional intimacy.
Without that intimacy, it created an environment where asking for help was a foreign concept. From simple tasks in the garage, to big financial choices, I RARELY asked for help.
I’m still not great at it, but I don’t struggle with it like I once did. Being self-aware of this emotional failing all but guarantees that I won’t struggle with this forever.
I THOUGHT I was strong, but I wasn’t.
So hard to admit, isn’t it?
I feel like we ALL like to THINK we’re mentally tough and resilient.
Let’s be honest, no one likes to admit they’re weak, right?
For me, my life has been marked by MANY trials and adversities, so naturally I thought a divorce would be something that would hard but not THAT hard.
Now, I NEVER thought for a second that it would be a walk in the park.
I know OF the emotional aspects of it, the financial aspects, and the ones that would affect my kids/family. I had head knowledge but not practical wisdom.
Because of previous life trials, I thought I was tougher than I was, and I thought these life events prepared me for a divorce.
- At age eight I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.
- At age seventeen I was almost killed in a freak ski accident.
- A few years ago I experienced professional stress that caused extreme panic attacks and I even went through a cancer scare.
I’ve been through more trials in 40+ years than most people go through in a lifetime.
I figured if I could get through all this, I can get through anything.
But none of what I experienced could prepare me for the rollercoaster of emotions that my divorce took me on.
As a teen with Tourette Syndrome (TS), it was AWFUL. I was picked on, ridiculed, and laughed at. I struggled with being overweight, had adverse reactions to medications, and didn’t know how to function through life with TS and ADHD.
There were days where the tics from Tourette Syndrome would literally consume me to the point where I couldn’t see or function. It was SO bad.
At 17, I literally had to learn to walk and run again because of the freak ski accident that almost took my life. When on the operating table, my heart stopped twice because I had lost SO much blood. They had to resuscitate my heart twice. I should’ve died and it’s a miracle that I’m alive.
Even the surgeon that operated on me, years later, admitted he couldn’t explain why or how I made it out of that surgery because of the damage to my pelvic area, hip, and upper left leg.
Through ALL this, I figured a divorce was only a long line of unfortunate events that I could somehow muster MY OWN strength to persevere through.
I was SO wrong.
Despite the flurry of memes on Instagram telling me that I’m the twin brother of Kal-El (Aka Super-Man), I’m really not.
And while admitting this might feel like a blow to your ego and your confidence, you’re not Super-Man, either. None of us are.
That doesn’t mean we can’t go through hard things. But, as a society we’re SO arrogant and emotionally unhealthy with concepts give us a false sense of confidence.
Does that mean I’m a rubbery pile of wet noodles?
Of course not.
But admitting I’m weak is the first step to gaining perspective that didn’t previously exist. Admitting that I’m weak, broken, and in need of help is critical for God to work in my life. He does his BEST work in those who are the weakest.
In general, growth DOES NOT happen when we’re constantly winning, in first place, rich, fat, and happy.
Growth comes when we’re experiencing a trial, a loss, or some sort of challenge. Failure and loss is a powerful teacher.
I had to rely on others.
Here’s what I DID DO to get through the most intense emotional times after my divorce, and during my devastating seasons.
- I learned to lean on others – both family and friends.
- My parents were THE BEST – they guided me in my darkest moments.
- I started intense therapy – despite the societal stigma, this was the GREATEST source of healing for me because I learned about things that I had NO CLUE were causing me to stay emotionally stuck.
- I avoided bad things – I avoided alcohol and drugs.
- I completely changed my diet – ONLY clean foods went into my body, making sure I was physically getting the nutrition I needed. (Everything starts with your gut, and I practiced this almost perfectly, except for the occasional trip to Cold Stone Creamery.)
- I dove into boxing – this probably saved my life during the pandemic, spending time at my Mixed Martial Arts gym.
- My faith grew exponentially – I began to realize that God will ALWAYS love me as a masterpiece, He draws close to the broken-hearted, and NEVER gives up on His flock. Ever.
Part of my healing process to get THROUGH my divorce, and afterwards, was learning to hard truth that I NEED others.
You need others, just like I do. You cannot do life successfully on your own.
It’s futile, impossible, and lonely.
There were people who came into my life for a season and others who I wish were still in my life.
I developed some GREAT relationships and pursued some toxic ones.
I learned to relax, learned to sit in the moment, and started practicing the concept of living in the present. (SO hard for me to do because of how fast my brain works and because of how poorly I’ve trained it.)
There were some relationships that I learned a lot from and some I damaged because I wasn’t ready to be in them. Anyone who’s been through a divorce knows EXACTLY what I mean….
To those who spoke unabashed truth into me, even when I acted like I wasn’t listening or ready to hear it – thank you.
You took the time to put energy into me, spent time listening to me, and gave me the most precious gift of all.
You loved me when I was unlovable and helped me heal because of your words and wisdom which acted like salve on an open wound. I put myself in a place where I could hear uncomfortable things in order to grow, and the truth you poured into me was a catalyst for change.
Despite ALL the challenges, I am rocking life. You are, too.
While I definitely feel like I can handle more than I give myself credit for, I’m constantly checking my ego, approaching life’s situations with humility.
To that end, I remind you to keep going. You can do hard things. You are lovable, important, and valuable.