September 29 is a significant day for me because it has officially been 1 year since my divorce was finalized! I felt so many emotions on this day last year but today I primarily feel:
Happiness for being in such a better place,
Grateful for all of my friends and family who helped pull me through some pretty difficult times,
and Excited for all that life has in store for me.
In honor of this day, I thought I would share some of the things I learned throughout the last 1-2 years. Getting divorced sucked. Bad. It was like the darkest of the dark times. But if a difficult situation can not only bring me to a better place but also leave me feeling so much stronger and wiser then I guess that’s not so bad.
1. Be a listener, not a fixer.
So I have realized that when you have a problem, there are two kinds of people: listeners and fixers.
Listeners are the people who stop and absorb your issue. They sympathize with your pain. They are an open ear and outlet to let you vent your heart out.
And then there are fixers. And they want to fix. When you tell them about something that is upsetting you, they jump right into solutions. The “well what if you did X, Y and Z?” conversations. And while their intentions are good, sometimes it is exhausting to try to entertain a conversation about fixing something when you’re still coming to terms with what is broken. Sometimes people just need someone to tell them that it’s going to be okay. When I got divorced, I really needed the listeners in my life. I felt overwhelmed with all sorts of emotion and was trying to sort it all out. Listeners helped me feel like things were going to be okay and fixers made me feel even more overwhelmed.
I realized over the past year that I am a fixer. It comes from a good place but now that I have been on the receiving end, I really just need to just stop, listen, and be there for my friends. #lessonlearned
Thanks to my friends for being the best listeners ever!
2. Self Help Books are the Bomb
If you come to a crossroads in your life, whether it be with your marriage, career, friendships, whatever, there is a self help book out there for you. I have grown to love self help books over time and have found that they can really break down situations from a neutral perspective. Here are a few of my favorite books:
- Finding Your North Star: helpful if you’re unhappy in your career. This book helped me go back to school to become a dietitian!
- Lean In: great for women who are struggling with career vs. home balance
- Big Magic: perfect read for many of us bloggers struggling to be confident in our creative side
- Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: a must-read if you’re not sure whether you should stay in your relationship
- He’s Just Not That Into You / It’s Called a Break-Up Because it’s Broken: Okay, it feels a little cheese including these but I read them in college and STILL think about them when I’m having a relationship issue. They are great reads to simply and bluntly give you relationship advice.
Two books listed above really helped me come to terms with divorce being the right decision for me: Lean In and Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay. I won’t get into the details of all of my previous relationship struggles but these two books really made me feel confident in something that I already knew deep down inside- that my ex and I were not a good fit for each other. At all.
3. Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
I have heard this over and over again throughout life but could never really relate until I was getting divorced. I went through about a 1-year period where I felt sad 24/7. I couldn’t sleep so I was exhausted all the time. Everything in life seemed to be difficult. But I think from looking at me, aside from maybe looking tired, no one could tell the way I was feeling on the inside.
During that time, I really appreciated someone sending a small gesture of kindness my way. Whether it was waiting an extra second to hold the door for me, going out of their way to let me over in traffic or even leaving a nice blog comment here, those small things made me feel happy.
On the other hand, dealing with unhappy situations just made life that much more…. unhappy. For example, one time a nurse was pretty rude to me out on the floor for no real season (I think she was having a bad day). I went down to my office and bawled my eyes out. I wouldn’t have reacted that way had I been in a better place, but I also know that this nurse is generally an awesome person and would have NEVER treated me that way had she known what I was going through.
Not everyone wants to air their dirty laundry all the time. So just be kind to everyone <3
4. If someone shows you who they are, believe them
I think Dr. Phil originally said this, but I’m going to go with it.
When it comes to people, there are words and there are actions. Sometimes the two do not match up. And as someone who generally wants to see the best in people, I generally believe what someone tells me despite their actions indicating otherwise. This has usually never ended up in my favor and has caused me a lot of heartache throughout my twenties.
If someone shows you who they are, believe them.
5. It’s not embarrassing to go to counseling
My ex and I went to marriage counseling after years of discussing whether we were really a good fit to be husband and wife. It was our last resort and I had never been to counseling before. I was really embarrassed and only told 1 or 2 people about it. It actually feels weird typing this out now and sharing it with the world.
Our couples counselor then suggested that I go to an individual counselor to be able to openly share my thoughts about my relationship without being worried about hurting anyone’s feelings. Again, I felt so embarrassed (and almost ashamed?) at the time.
All I can say is that I wish I had gone to counseling WAY SOONER. I spent years of life trying to understand and fix problems that I didn’t know how to fix myself. It is very freeing to be able to openly talk to an unbiased person and not have to worry about being judged for what you say. Sharing things with someone who has no other relationship with you besides being your counselor is completely different than sharing things with your friends or family.
Sitting in my counselor’s office and discussing my inner struggles was the most liberalizing experience of my life. With 3 sessions, my counselor was able to help me identify reasons why I was so committed to staying married (I was determined to never get divorced) even though my marriage was clearly not bringing happiness to my life, and to also overcome my fears about what would happen if the marriage ended.
I have not been back to a counselor since then but I wouldn’t hesitate to go if I felt like I really needed someone to help me work through an issue.
6. Be Yourself
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You” –Dr. Seuss
An important lesson I learned through a failed marriage and re-entering the dating scene, although it can be applied to any aspect in life, is that it’s okay to be yourself. If things don’t work out because you are being yourself then that relationship is not the relationship for you. Different personalities, looks, hobbies, whatever- it’s the spice of life.
I am Sam. I’m 30 years old but I still listen to Britney Spears. I am obsessed with my dog. I own a small fortune in bikes, handbags and makeup from Sephora, and I will continue to purchase more bikes, handbags and makeup from Sephora in the future. I don’t love sports but I do love food, nutrition and cooking. I am me and that is a good thing!
You will never do yourself any favors in life if you are constantly trying to be who you think someone else wants you to be. Whether it is with dating, finding new friends or even at a job interview- be yourself. Be authentic. That is the key to finding people who will bring happiness into your life!
7. What’s meant to be will always find a way
Okay, so I saved my fav for last. I have lived 30 years on this Earth and something I truly believe from the bottom of my heart is this:
Things always end up working out the way they are supposed to, even if it’s not what we wanted at the time.
I look back at all of the painful, sad and difficult situations I have experienced thus far and can say without a doubt that things ended up happening the way they were supposed to. This has been true for me for when I was passed over for two different promotions over the years, which ultimately led to better opportunities. I couldn’t believe this more about my divorce!
So, final thoughts 1 year later.
I hate that I went through a divorce because I know there’s a stigma there. But really, life goes on and we just keep moving. I’m really proud of the person I became going through this and that I have been able to stand on my own two feet and fill my life with so much love, happiness and great friendships. If anyone out there is going through something similar, just keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I promise!
P.S. Have you made it through something difficult in life recently? Did you learn anything from that situation? I’d love to hear about it!