Having to step into my role as a single lady challenged every belief I ever had about myself—of life, really. When I entered this new phase (unlike Beyoncé and her Single Ladies anthem), I was terrified. I had no idea how I was going to make it on my own. I had no idea how to make decisions or choices because they were always made for me—or with someone else.
In my tiny little closed-off mind, in no way did I ever think I would be able to take care of myself. Financially. Emotionally. Physically. At the time of my divorce, I was dealing with debilitating pain that left me unable to work—and almost unable to care for myself. It was a phase I thought I would never get through—just like every hard thing in life. But just like every hard thing in life—I got through it.
After 11 years, of not being the breadwinner, my marriage started to crumble. But, looking back, it wasn’t that my marriage had started crumbling; it was more like we finally realized it had already crumbled. What we were doing just wasn’t working. This was not bliss. This was broken. And, we didn’t know how to fix it.
Divorce was never even a thought in my mind. I would have stayed in my marriage till the end of time, knowing full well my husband wasn’t happy and, even still, after admitting I wasn’t happy. (It took me a lot of time to even know that.)
After the divorce, I was left to figure out life on my own, as a single mom, dealing with chronic pain—and not a whole lot of family around to help. In fact, zero family around to help. The first couple years can honestly be dubbed: The Worst Years of My Motherlovin’ Life. And they were.
However, like all hard things in life, it got better. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen with the snap of a finger. With time and patience and practice and healing, though, I learned how to step into my own strength. You can actually learn how to be strong. Strength is definitely a thing that can be learned. Who knew?
I’ll admit, in the beginning of the crumble, I played the role of victim most excellently. I worked so hard at making everything everyone else’s fault. I cried, I whined, I begged, I cursed, and I thrived in the knowledge that I was the good gal. I was the one who was cast aside, by everyone. How dare my life take this turn? How dare God and the Universe and The Powers That Be smite me with these trials and then abandon me to figure them out on my own? I didn’t deserve any of these trials. I was the innocent one.
Eventually, though, playing the victim got old. I grew tired of the wallowing and the pity parties.
I remember being in a consultation with one of my doctors and—after listening to me week after week after week talk about how horrible my life was—he slapped me upside the head (verbally) and said, “Quit bitchin’ about your life, and do something to change it.”
At first, I was shocked. And maybe even a little taken aback. What would I have to change? I’m not the one who gave up. I’m not the one who left. I’m not the one who did this and did that… But, then I stopped and really started to think about it. Maybe, I did contribute to the breakdown of our marriage after all—like, a lot. Maybe, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Maybe, I was just as much to blame (if not more) than him. This realization was a punch in the face. And it pretty much took me down—over and over again.
After humbling myself enough to really take a look at me, I came to know that—instead of being the victim and blaming everyone else—I could own my own garbage and change it, thereby putting me in charge of my direction. Being the victim left me at the mercy of other people’s actions. Being the survivor put me in control. And damn, I like being in control.
I started reading books to learn how to change myself. I started examining where, in my life, I wasn’t living my best. I took inventory of the past 11 years, and I realized where I had gone wrong. Ironically, I found that most of my issues resided in believing that I couldn’t change.
I had to learn how to change. But first, I needed to learn that I could. (Slap in the face.)
As I progressed, I shed the belief that I needed someone to be whole. What a huge relief. I gradually came to know I was in control of my own being—I could take care of myself. And, then, I was able to recognize where I needed work.
Having come so far on this little journey, I can honestly say that the biggest influencer in my own growth and healing has been owning my part in this entire story. And, not just with my marriage, but with my whole life. Recognizing where I was being stubborn and detrimental—and just plain wrong—and then being open and willing to do what it took to fix it.
Change is not easy. It is never easy. And, falling back into old patterns and beliefs is inevitable. But, it’s possible with determination, perseverance, and humility. You can change your beliefs, your habits, and your thoughts.
After spending the majority of my life believing that I couldn’t change and that I needed someone to take care of me, I have come to the empowering decision that those beliefs aren’t true. In fact, they no longer exist. I am believing in me now. I own my story, and I’m working like crazy to make it a fantastic one.
Believing in me has made all the difference.