A YEAR AGO TODAY I WOKE UP SINGLE: What I have learnt from the toughest year of my life

A year ago today I woke up single….

I have been thinking about this date for the last few weeks. It’s been bubbling away, sitting in the back of my mind – no fear, no hurt, no grief attached to it. Just an acceptance.

I have had the toughest, yet most gratifying year of my life. And here’s the thing….it was full of contradictions.

I have lost so much but gained so much more.

I have fallen to the floor and pulled myself up again and learnt to run (metaphorically and literally, I have actually taken up running!).

I have doubled over in pain then stood tall with the pride that comes with kicking some serious goals.

I have said goodbye to someone I loved for 14 years and opened my heart to another.

I have sold a house and bought a house.

I have worked hard for my joy then sat back and watched as the joy now effortlessly rises from within my soul.

I have felt so weak yet made myself strong.

What a wild, fricken ride!!! So, to help anyone who is at the beginning of their separation journey, I have curated a list of all I have learnt from the past twelve months.

1. I have embraced the art of parenting down

This is an awesome concept introduced to me by my therapist. Parenting down is for those tough days or nights. Those moments where you simply can’t drag yourself off the couch to cook a super-fresh, homemade meal with ALL of the five food groups for the kids because you’ve spent the last few hours crying behind a cushion, under a blanket. Parenting down is Weet-Bix for dinner, 2 Minute Noodles for the whole week, leaving the ironing, letting the dishes pile up for a day or two. When it gets tough, lower your own expectations. I know it’s hard. You have so much guilt going through you. Parenting guilt, mum guilt, divorce guilt – you name it, you’ll be feeling guilty about something. But if you lower your own standards for a day or two and recognise you’re doing the best you can and the kids actually LIKE cereal for dinner, you’ll make it through those tough days and moments.

2. Some will step up, some will step away

I was surprised by who was truly there for me when my world fell apart. But I was more surprised by who wasn’t. I have made peace with the ones who I expected to support me but didn’t. I know their reaction had nothing to do with me and my situation and everything to do with them and their own demons or challenges. Once I flipped my mindset around that, the hurt went away and I focused on the people who WERE there for me and doused myself in FORGIVENESS essential oil blends daily to release that hurt too. Sometimes I felt like I should shower in them! ūüėČ

3. No regrets

Like the image that I have placed into this post, trust that your dots will connect the way they are meant to. If that means the future you thought you had falls away, then let it. I fought for over three years for my perceived future. Man, I hung onto it so darn tight, it actually slipped through my fingers and fell away all by itself. Steve Jobs said in his Stanford commencement speech, “You can never connect the dots looking forward, but you’ll always be able to connect the dots of your life when you’re looking back. Trust that.” Thank you Shannon Algeo for posting this image and quote this morning – it was the most perfect of timing.

4. We screwed up our marriage but we refuse to screw up our kids

My ex-husband and I have worked hard at creating a positive co-parenting relationship. We are flexible, communicative and have always put the kids’ needs first. I know that many people find co-parenting challenging, especially considering the number of narcissists and ego-maniacs there are out there. You can’t control other people’s negative or toxic behaviour but you can control yours. Actually, it’s interesting when people say to me ‘You’re so lucky you guys have a great co-parenting relationship.’ I think that luck shouldn’t¬†describe¬†it. It’s not luck. It should be the way it is. It’s selfless. It’s prioritising your children’s emotional and mental health (and your own in the process, just quietly). Thrive Divorce put up a post the other day that said, “Co-parenting is not a competition. It’s a collaboration of two homes working together with the best interest of the child at heart. Work for your kids, not against them.”¬† Easier said than done, I know. But worth it if you can do it.

5. Prioritise your health

Prior to separating, I had started to engage in activities that helped with my physical and mental health but as I was still in an environment that was in misalignment with my values, it was a bit like pushing shit uphill, to put it bluntly. This year, I have focused on my fitness which in turn has made my confidence soar, my spirit strong and my mind even stronger. I have engaged a Personal Trainer (who turned out to be a kindred soul sister), upped the ante with my yoga practice, taken up running, started tennis lessons and I’ve even signed up to play twilight netball (which my high school girlfriends are falling about laughing over as they know how not so great I am at that!). At the beginning of the year, my body was limping along, buckled over by the pain and trauma of being down the bottom of a priority list for years. Now, my body is strong and can do things that I never thought possible. And the excuses have stopped. The negative self-talk has been replaced with positive self-talk and affirmations and the difference it makes to my daily life is huge.

6. You will release your ex in your own time

You know what? I’ll be honest. It was probably up until 7-8 months after the separation that I was still hopeful my ex would change his mind. I hoped for a miracle and that somehow we would all end up as a family again. I remember saying it to my girlfriends in February and the shocked silence in the room actually hammered through my ears like a freight train. It wasn’t until I went and sat by myself on a mountain (figuratively and literally) a few months ago for a few days that I truly released my ex. I meditated (a lot!) and I wished him well. I visualised both myself and him living a life of joy and inner peace and finding love again – separately. I thanked him (during my meditations) for the love we shared and for our children. I sent gratitude out to the universe and released that part of my heart that had locked him into my soul, and that was locking other opportunities for love out. I came back from that solo trip feeling energised, positive and grateful. I had released him, so I in turn, had released myself.

7. Accept the shitty days will be truly shitty but remember they are temporary

Let’s be real. A marriage breakdown hurts. From the inside out and the outside in. It turns your world upside down and rips apart the very fabric of who you are and how you had defined yourself. I had days where I couldn’t see past the next minute, let alone the next day or month. I had moments where I completely lost all hope and wailed or got angry and punched cushions and pillows. When you feel like this, remember it is all temporary. Life is temporary. Our role in life is temporary. Everything changes. The entire Buddhist faith is built on this concept. Sure, things might have been awesome and now they’re¬†diabolically bad but please remember, they can get awesome again. Life WILL get awesome again. It just won’t be tomorrow, or next week. It will take some time. Be patient. Sit in your grief and sadness, just don’t stay there.

8. Make space for something new

One of the things I did that people thought was a little nutso when the marriage ended, was move two hours away from the city and all my friends and family to a small country town. Why did I do it? There were a couple of practical reasons based around finances and lifestyle, but one of the main reasons was this. I wanted to make space for something new. I wanted to leave my old, suburban life behind and create a completely new life. That meant putting my big girl undies on, sucking up the fear that came with such a move and getting on with it. New home, new school, new town, new friends, new love.

 

Before I go, I want to¬†I leave you with the lyrics to a song that I connected with back at the beginning of the year after my gorgeous yoga teacher, Melissa Sharp played it in her class. It’s called ‘Roads’ and it’s by a singer called Chris Mann, who has the most beautiful of voices. This got put on high rotation on my Spotify playlist when I second-guessed myself about whether I was doing the right thing – which was often!

 

There are roads in this life that we all travel
There are scars and there are battles where we roam
When we are lost or wherever we may go
They will always lead you home

There are roads that have lead me to another
To a friend or to a lover I have known
For every turn is a year that I have grown
As I walk along these roads

Some are long and some are weathered
Some will lead you through a storm
When you’ve gone astray you will find your way
As you walk along these roads

There were times when I stumbled and I wondered
But every choice and every step I don’t regret
Cause I have lived and I have loved like no other
I won’t fear what lies ahead

Some are long and some are weathered
Some will lead you through a storm
When you’ve gone astray you will find your way
As you walk along these roads

There are roads in this life that I have traveled
There are scars and there are battles, this I know
Cause I’d be lost, but no matter where I go
They will one day lead me home

 

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