Divorce Makes Us Stronger

My friends call me the "Divorce Poster Child".

At the age of 20 I was married, and by 22 I had our first child. My husband was away at work every weekday, so it was just myself and the baby, from seven in the morning, until five thirty in the evening, every weekday. Eventually, my husband and I found ourselves with three children, and we were now both working in the same industry. We worked for his company, and he was still away at work every day, while I managed to work from home while taking care of the house and the kids.

We worked apart for all of our marriage, and we got to the point where, when we were together, we had very little to talk about besides the kids, and work. Eventually, there was even less to talk about, because it would seem that my ex-husband to be, was getting more and more distant. I sensed the distance, sat him down and said, "If you're feeling like you want to be a single man, don't go behind my back and sneak around because you want to be with someone else. Don't make me do all of the detective work that I see those poor women on T.V. having to do before finding out that their husbands are cheating on them. If that's what you want, then go. Let's cut our losses now, and do it amicably." To which he replied, "I would NEVER do that! I don't want to be single. I love you guys. What would make you say that??"

Apparently, at about that time, my soon to be ex-husband was slowly developing younger woman syndrome, and eventually decided that he would rather be a single man. So, to make a very long story, somewhat shorter, I wasn't about to leave the home that I raised my children in, so he left (That's the Coles' notes version.)

We've been divorced for four and a half years now. I went through many phases. The first was definitely blinding anger, followed closely (actually overlapped) by betrayal, which came before overwhelming sadness and feelings of failure, which were replaced by apprehension. Apprehension stepped aside to welcome self-pity. Major self pity. Self-pity was quickly replaced by revenge. I went on a spending spree, maxxing out his credit card twice. Each stage came with its own set of ups and downs.

I've learned so many things about myself because of my divorce. I have acquaintances who are going through the same things right now, who ask me for advice, and it surprises me to hear them say that they're having the same feelings and thoughts that I had in the various stages of this journey. There were times when I thought that I was going insane. But we all go through these phases. I found that mine were therapeutic, and educational. I learned that I'm much stronger than I thought I was. I learned this when apprehension came to visit me. I learned that I have a lot more patience than I ever thought I could have. I learned that I CAN be the bigger person. I learned that as long as I take care of myself, my children do wonderfully. "The ex" is a regular visitor in our children's lives. We're not best friends, but I'm okay with that. We get along well enough, and once I grasped the lesson that what he did wasn't about me, my life improved dramatically. It was his mess. It was his mental and emotional mess. There was nothing wrong with me.

I'm happy with my life, and with who I am at the end of the divorce process. I'm running my own business, and for the first time in my life I'm in complete control of every aspect of my life. If I want to eat Frosted Flakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I will without having anyone berate me for it. If I want to spend an outrageous amount of money on a pair of amazing shoes, I will (Mr. Visa loves me).

My divorce actually made me stronger. It gave me the strength to be the person that I am supposed to be. All's wonderful in my world. I proudly bear the title "Divorce Poster Child". I think I just might put that on a tee shirt.

Debbie Burgin is a Vancouver handbag designer, and mother of 3, who started and runs the successful handbag line at http://www.debbieburgin.com as a result of her divorce.

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