Beautiful readers, I wrote this article five years ago and I just came across it in my files. My world has moved on a lot since that time. In fact it feels like a different lifetime, and my confidence and happiness have returned. But as I read these words, I realise they are still important to share, so here you are…
Last weekend marked the first anniversary of my marriage separation. One year ago I came home from work, sat next to my husband and told him I could no longer live with him. It was a heartbreaking decision which had taken almost a year to make, but it was inevitable. The 12 months since that fateful day have been a blend of challenges, validation, fun and sadness.
I wish I were writing this post as a “breakup evangelist”, bouncing off the walls and proclaiming the great side to my marital split. Instead I’ve only just started to make sense of my new life and see the silver lining to my single status. Over the last year there have been days when I’ve felt euphoric, free and excited. Yet there have been others where I’ve wanted to stay in bed all day to block the rest of the world out. Luckily the dark days are now rare and I can see a gradual improvement in my happiness, confidence and hope. Apparently this is normal. And when I look back at my past breakups, they’ve followed a similar pattern.
Here are some of the things I’ve experienced since calling it quits:
At first I was in a state of shock. Looking back, it feels as though I was in a bubble for the first few months as I worked through the practicalities of the separation (selling the house, dividing up the assets and doing all the legal stuff). Once the business side of things was put to bed and I was in my own home, I had the time and headspace to reflect on it all. That was the toughest time for me – emotions crashed in like waves. They ranged from grief to relief, anger to excitement and hurt to happiness. But the negatives are starting to dissipate and the positives are growing. I’m more in control of my feelings and nowadays being a single woman feels like my new normal.
In addition to walking away from a dual-income household, I resigned from my high-paying job to take time out and recover, and to parent my son. It was a necessary choice that I’m glad I made, but it’s come at a financial cost. However, I’ve since found ways to make and save cash and I’m doing okay. We’re lucky enough to live in a lovely home that I’ve renovated. I’ve also become creative in finding fun with limited funds. It’s strengthened my financial muscles and given me the ability to differentiate between what I need and what I want… I’m sure this lesson will stand me in good stead in the future.
From time to time I feel alone, especially on the nights without my son. Having said that, my new home has become a social hub and there’s rarely a night without a guest or two. In fact, when there’s no one here I love to soak up my alone time and relax. Whilst being alone can be a bit scary, I’ve come to realise that the feeling of being alone as a single person is infinitely better than feeling lonely within a relationship.
Missing my ex
Neither of us were happy, but in the end it was me who made the call to end our relationship. I didn’t take the decision lightly, and there have been times over the last year when it would have been easy to accept his numerous requests to reconcile. I’m a human, not a robot – I couldn’t spend five years in a committed relationship without noticing his absence. Whilst at times I feel sad about this void, there are more times when I feel relief that both he and I are free to move on with our lives and be happy.
Following a few turbulent years of locking horns, feeling stressed and ongoing turmoil, the peace in my life is palpable. In fact, it took a few months to get used to. I can honestly say I haven’t had any conflict with anyone since I moved in to my new home and it’s lovely. No unnecessary stress, no dread, no discomfort. Ahhhhhh!
Managing the “boy” stuff
A few things have gone wrong around the house this year. Historically I would’ve called upon my ex for help, as I’ve had a “strictly hands-off” approach to DIY and home maintenance. But my single status coupled with limited funds has forced me to step up to the plate and acquire new skills. Surprisingly, I love it. Every time I make or fix something I feel a surge of confidence and achievement. For Christmas I built my son a fort, and I’ve just re-tiled my kitchen. It’s made me realise I’m more independent than I previously gave myself credit for.
Adjusting to part-care of my son
The first few weeks of adjusting to not seeing my little boy every night was crippling. I missed my goodnight kisses, his early morning smile, and the daily download of his daycare activities. I’m lucky enough to work part time, so I still spend lots of time with him and I have him the majority of the time. It’s made me appreciate the time we spend together – we’re always out and about making memories. I also appreciate the moments I spend recharging after making these memories. A girlfriend once said my situation delivers the best of both worlds. I didn’t believe her at first, but now I see she was right. It’s a happy and healthy balance for us both.
The pros and cons
Sometimes I look back and forwards and I consider past or future regrets. At this point, I focus on the fact we produced something magical together – our son. I also learnt some great lessons which will set me up for life. I gave it my best shot and it didn’t work. There’s no point dwelling on it. All I can do is dust myself down, get on with it, and support others to do the same (that’s where Fresh Start For Me comes in). It would be good if he and I were on better terms, and perhaps in time we will be. But for the time being that’s the situation and there’s no point for wishing it to be any other way.
I wonder where I’ll be in another year’s time. I imagine the healing will continue and my confidence will regrow further. I’m looking forward to more quality time with my son and friends over the next few months, and I’ll be putting all remaining energy into helping my business flourish. As for re-partnering, it’s not even on my radar. I’ve realised this year I have the capacity to love again, but I have no idea how or when that will manifest. I know fate will take a hand when the time is right.
So as I sit back and reflect on the last year, I acknowledge the lows and I feel good about the highs. There have been many of both. I was whinging to my mum last night, saying I hadn’t made any progress since the D-Day, but writing this I can now see there’s been lots.
If you’re at the start of the separation path, I wish you all the best. The next few months will probably be a rollercoaster, but the important things are to be patient with yourself, undertake self-care, celebrate your wins, and don’t beat yourself up on the days you feel like you’re regressing – that will only make you feel worse. You WILL get there – it’s just a matter of time.
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