I felt like a fraud. My insides flushed with heat as I sat on the red micro suede couch of the production set in a downtown Los Angeles warehouse building. I was supposed to be speaking as a divorce recovery expert panelist alongside 2 therapists, an attorney and a celebrity relationship expert. But two days before the shoot I learned my ex husband was getting remarried. I slipped back down the rabbit hole. I felt like a wounded and rejected girl in breathless heartache watching her knight in shining armor ride off with a different fair maiden.
My internal body heat merged with the lights glaring down on the 5 of us who were giving our expert answers on how to recover from divorce as quickly as possible, letting go of your 'forever' story and getting in touch with reality and how to handle feeling like a failure. I sat there trembling as if I were on the witness stand about to lie through my testimony.
In that moment I wasn't focused on my relief to not be criticized, teased and rejected emotionally and physically by my husband. I conveniently bypassed how worthless I'd felt when he repeatedly said I didn't listen to him, respect him, admire him or clean the house to his standards. Had I known about his affairs, maybe I wouldn't have given so much credence to his complaints. But I internalized them to mean there was something wrong with me.
It was almost 3 years to the day since my divorce had been final. I should be 100% over it, healed, finished with this sadness B.S. ! How could I call myself a divorce recovery coach if I was still going through these feelings?
But here's what I've learned:
- I can be of more valuable service to others because when I'm facing my own dips, those feelings are fresh, and I'm right there with my readers and clients. Having the occasional feelings of sadness, unworthiness and fear make me more compassionate. The fresh salty tear stinging my own cheek strengthens my capacity for empathy.
- There is no 100% 'over it'. I subscribed to the belief that one-day I'd be completely healed and transformed just like the women I read about in magazines who were absolutely glowing with delight, happier than ever, in their new relationships or businesses. But that reality does not exist.
- As much as I have wanted to be that woman, the truth is, while I am grateful for the peace I have in my life, I miss the guy I fell in love with who was my best friend. Each Christmas I'm not with the family I'd been with for 16 years, I experience a flurry of sadness. And while my self worth has vastly improved I still fear I'm not good enough for a man to love me. I try to convince myself to stop longing to be part of my former family but divorce recovery is a journey, not a destination. There are anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, holidays, births and deaths that I'm no longer a part of. It is natural to feel sadness about the change in family dynamics.
- I didn't benefit from reading the glib articles instructing me to enjoy all my new free time after my husband left, so why would I want to write them? I felt absolutely broken and shaken to my core with grief; and maybe you do, too. That's the person I can help by sharing what is real.
I've learned so much in my years of self-study and professional training, and I've seen repeatedly how we often teach what we need to learn. We don't have to be light years ahead of where someone else is in order to help them.
I'm shedding the shame I carried of not being 'over it' and embracing the truth that my divorce continues to have ripples and waves of sadness. I encourage you to stop comparing yourself to anyone else's journey and walk your own unique path in the healthiest way that works for you.
If you'd like help with recreating a new life after divorce, reach out to me at [email protected] .
Patty Blue Hayes is the award winning author of Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce and the creator of You Can Heal Your Heartbreak , an audio program based on her book, My Heart is Broken. Now What? Her life coaching helps people rediscover themselves after divorce. Connect with her at www.pattybluehayes.com