“I remember how flattered I felt when a much older man showed interest in me. I was 25, still deciding who I was and what I wanted when I met him. He was the exact opposite of the guys I had been dating. He was 41, successful, (apparently) confident, smart, wise, smooth. I was intrigued by his conversations and theories on the world, and even more so, by his desire to pursue me.
Fast forward about 4 months later, and I was pregnant with his child. Looking back, I can see how all the perceived obstacles were there to balance out the indescribable emotions that came with having my own child. He came into the world with breathing issues and a fever… I know now it was a product of the emotional whirlwind I was under while pregnant.
When he was 6 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I literally had a dream where I was carrying another baby, and I’ve been historically very connected with my dreams since I was young, so I knew it was true. Fast forward a little over 2 years, and here was baby number three. In a blink of an eye, it seemed, I was 30 years old with three children under four.
We tried our best. That’s all we could do. He was busy working and growing his company. His focus and sense of pride came from providing for his family. I was at home alone with the kiddos, trying to do my job but also harboring a deep sense of loneliness and despair. While I loved my children and had quite a comfortable lifestyle, I felt empty, useless, and hopeless. Nothing in my current reality matched my goals and dreams.
As a little girl, I always dreamed of being a strong, powerful businesswoman. I had visions of being the only woman in a boardroom full of accomplished men. I wanted to be known for my intelligence and courage, to be able to play with the boys and hold my own. Being a stay-at-home mother was the complete opposite. While NOW I can see the sheer power and strength it takes to fulfill this role, back then I was only focused on how it DIDN’T look like my dreams.
As with all couples, we energetically chose each other way before we got into a relationship. I embodied exactly what he was needing to heal from his childhood. He represented all the pain and fear I had yet to face. It was a perfect match for the job, but it took me quite some time to realize it. I just thought he was out to make my life miserable. I remember thinking to myself, ‘My spouse will always meet me at the same level of fear from which I operate.’ And because we weren’t in tune with the real wounds we carried, we eventually decided to call it quits and move on.
Because everything comes in opposing pairs, I lived in a gorgeous penthouse overlooking the Atlantic ocean and had access to pretty much anything I wanted. But the comfort came with its price of admission: a sense of emptiness and the perceived threat from him. I felt constantly judged, criticized, unsupported, and disconnected. I was craving for this love within, yet it was so da*n difficult to make it click. We were both operating from fear, the same fears we had ignored in the past so well but were now showing up with higher stakes than ever. For all the support I got on one side, I got the same level of challenge on the other.
And this, today, is what I realize about life. There’s balance, at all times. In the most divinely orchestrated way. But when we look at things with one eye instead of two, we lose sight of this perfection and instead get lost in a rollercoaster of emotions.
Society seems to push the idea divorce is a tragedy that ruins people and the overall institution of marriage and family. I’m here to propose a different perspective. Marriage started as more of an agreement between males and females in order to simplify the task of living and raising children. It was symbiotic and practical at its finest. We also forget we used to live a lot less back when this institution was adopted, so you’d have about 20 good years next to your partner.
Today, things are very different. The expectations have been pushed to a borderline insane level. We expect our partners to not only help with finances and the kids but also be our mindset coaches, chefs, cheerleaders, therapists, sex experts, interior designers, best friend,s and everything in between. And, let’s not forget, we’re living a lot longer now. So we must get all these needs fulfilled for a good four, five, or six decades… I believe we’ve lost track of the purpose of marriage and have arbitrarily created a false pursuit of nirvana, which keeps us feeling sadder than ever.
What if we took some time to manage expectations and our own perceptions? What if we realized every single relationship we’ve ever had and ever will have has an expiration date? (This isn’t meant to paint a negative picture, but rather help us remove all the demands we place on others and ultimately lead to unhappy endings.) What if we walked into relationships with curiosity and gratitude, sans the attachment to forever? What if we faced the challenges head-on with an open heart, instead of expecting only perfection and happiness? We would most likely learn the real lessons we’re being asked to learn, instead of jumping from person to person or living in a state of fear, anxiety, and apathy. What if we removed the word ‘failure’ from the concept of divorce, and dove deeper into the purpose and benefits of ending a marriage?
There is an inherent upside to anything, as tragic as it may seem at first. Divorce is deemed a catastrophe, like you are flawed for not ‘fixing’ or ‘fighting’ for your marriage. But… look closer. (With two eyes instead of one, if you will.) As painful as it may feel, there’s a deeper meaning behind divorce.
Notice the strength you gained after the perceived loss of your spouse and maybe even kids. What about the level of self-awareness? Any increase in courage, perhaps? Dig deeper. Who did you become after falling down to your knees? Did you rise up higher than ever? Were you able to integrate lessons you easily could have overlooked had it not been for the pain? Dig even deeper.
Today, I am grateful for my divorce. And I don’t mean grateful from an ‘I’m so grateful I dodged that bullet’ perspective. That’s just anger wearing some lipstick. I come from a ‘This was meant to make me grow into who I am now, with my highest interest and love in mind’ perspective. And this is a powerful state in which to be.
Today, I look back at the girl who was raising babies and in desperate need of approval and validation and I can hold space for her. I’ve learned self-love is the basic platform for any relationship to thrive, and I’ve even created a business around it. I have found myself thinking in my healing process, ‘Healing after divorce should be intentional and consistent. Otherwise, you’re just moving into the same relationship with another person.’
Today, I have a healthy and supportive relationship with the ex. We understand our duty as parents doesn’t change with the shift in our personal dynamics. We are fully aware the other’s wellbeing is everyone’s wellbeing. We have stepped from anger and resentment into kindness and support. We know getting a divorce was the best course of action and long ago dropped the expectation it needed to last forever. And, in turn, we’re co-parenting and raising three absolute rock stars.
If you’re still struggling with being at peace with your divorce, take some time to analyze what you gained from what you think you lost. There’s balance, at all times. It’s a matter of removing what’s covering one eye. Once you take a real look at the end of your marriage with both eyes, you can understand everything is working in your divine interest. Always. And that, my friends, is how you come to a place of gratitude and love for what you once perceived to be the end of your life and love. Gratitude heals. Always.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie Valbuena. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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