What I learned from being married and divorced before

Noemi J. Mullins

My boyfriend of one year and a quarter proposed to me when I was 22. After graduating from college, I fell in love with my boyfriend and was ready to embark on the journey of adulthood. Little did I realize that the next decade would throw me curveballs I never could have imagined. The 24-year-old girl at the altar was going to go through several different incarnations before she reached 30.

I began to doubt my marriage at 27. I dismissed the feelings as a normal part of married life. At 28, I began to worry about these feelings. We were not intimate, and I felt cold and closed off. I began to believe that something was wrong with me. The universe gave me the confidence to start over at 29 and the courage. I was afraid of what people would say, the rumors about me that would spread, and the guilt I would feel for hurting the one person I loved the most. But I said it anyway: “I want to divorce.”

It was a roller coaster ride of emotions and fights. The separation of assets and the “he said, she said” were all part of the process. But, somehow, I found that the grass on my lawn is actually greener. Whether you’re going through or considering a divorce, supporting someone going through one, or learning to navigate life on your own, I have some tips that may help.

You and yourself are your most important relationships.

When I tried to ignore my doubts about my marriage, I was disrespecting my intuition and neglecting my relationship with me. It can be difficult to admit uncomfortable feelings like not being in a committed relationship. However, listening to your gut is the best way to take care of yourself and get what you need. We are compassionate and love others, putting their needs ahead of our own. But to be a great partner, we must also prioritize ourselves, practice self-care and show self-compassion.

To prioritize your relationship with yourself, you must first be clear about what you want. Journaling can help you listen to your intuition without being influenced by others. Write down what you feel and what you desire (without any justification or explanation), then read it the next morning. It’s important to act on your desires if you think that what you wrote is an honest description of them.

There was no going back once I stopped denying my feelings and told myself I wanted to divorce. Acceptance is a necessary first step to change. It was the first time I learned how to prioritize my needs and honor my feelings. I’ll never again sacrifice my needs for the comfort of others. This will make me a more compassionate person, friend, and romantic partner.

After nine years of being with my partner, I was worried about the image I would portray to our families and friends. I feared that they might think I was the one who started the separation. I did not want to be viewed as a villain or for my relationship to be dissected by those who were unaware of the full facts. I tried to find a way to tell my side of the tale to protect my reputation, but I realized that I couldn’t control what people thought.

The beauty of gossip is that the people who spread it are not involved in the situation, and so their interest will only last for a short time. The topic of conversation will change sooner or later, and the rumors that surround you will become less interesting.

It took me months to realize that no one cared about the details of my breakup. No one was interested in the reasons why it happened or who was “at fault.” I was the only person who still thought about my situation.

It hurts to hear gossip, and you never want to be the subject of a discussion when you feel you cannot defend yourself. But I would be on every front page in the world if I allowed others’ opinions to override my own. Soon, the world will have moved on, and there will be new juicy dramas to discuss. You will never have the freedom to live your life if you are constantly worried about what others might say behind your back.

Independence is a virtue.

Due to my young marriage, I have never been able to be truly independent. At 30, I am living alone for the first time. I pay all my bills (on one salary), kill the bugs, make the decisions, carry the heavy packages in, take out the garbage, and really take care of myself. I always think of how I will be a better partner if I can handle situations without anyone else’s help.

By living alone, I have learned to manage my life on my own. This has helped me become more aware of myself and what I like, dislike, want, desire, and do without external influence. I am learning more about myself, which will help ensure that the person I choose to commit to is a good fit for me.

You can learn a lot about yourself by embracing your independence, whether you live alone or decide what you want to eat at dinner without needing to consult anyone else.

Second chances are always possible.

After I admitted to myself that life was not going the way I had hoped, I began to believe in a second chance. Then, I began to think that “nothing was permanent, and everything could be worked out.” It didn’t matter how frightening each step might appear. What about difficult conversations? You can do it. Are you moving out? You’ll be able to find an apartment that suits you. How do you balance your budget? You can save money by cutting back on certain items. Meet someone new? When you are ready, everything will go smoothly.

Second chances are rare, but when you do get them, they can be magical. Stop walking in the wrong direction and return to the fork where you took the wrong turn. You can overcome every obstacle that comes your way. You can figure it out, yes. But it would be best if you also kept in mind that it is not necessary to solve everything at once.

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