"What happened to your dogs?"
"Why are you traveling to Europe... alone?"
"Where is your wedding ring?"
"Why has your name changed?"
These are some of the many questions I've been faced with recently. And, this post has been a long time coming. So, let me explain...
...And So Our Story Ends
There comes a time in almost every relationship where it comes to an end. It reaches a point where two individuals have stopped growing together and as individuals. Some people stay in relationships that no longer serve them because it's comfortable and the fear of the unknown and the pressures of society. For me, coming to this realization, that divorce in my 30's was in my cards was devastating. It was a hard reality to swallow. But the truth of it all is that my loveless marriage was over years ago. It wasn't evident then, but now looking back at it all, it couldn't have been more clear.
It's not just a closing of a chapter, but a book. The pages filled in this book are chapters and chapters of fun-filled adventures around the world, plenty of good belly aching laughs, silent smiles, silly moments, dancing in the desert until the wee hours of the morning at Burning Man, music festivals, BBQing with friends, trips and random moments on the coast, and the support for one another. Very few tears, fights, and arguments. The respect that we hold for one another is unparalleled. A picture perfect marriage, to say the least.
The words that became our theme throughout was that of The Beatles “All You Need Is Love” but in reality, sometimes love is not enough. It is a deeper love. It is happiness. It is companionship. It is an effortless devotion. A symphonic free flow of blending of families. A type of romance that sweeps you off your feet and effortless.
Never than ever before do the words “consciously uncoupling” make sense and resonate, because this is my reality. As I look back at these last 10 years with my ex-husband, I can only thank my partner for everything he has provided for us, the support and love he has shown me, the patience he has had for me. As the days, weeks and months go on the sadness, the heavy broken heart and confusion have minimized. Some days are easier than others, while hard days -- quite few these days -- seem debilitating, going through life in an empty daze, realizing I am alone. ALONE. I'm alone in a place we relocated together in hopes to start a family and have a better quality of life than what San Francisco could ever offer us. I've walked away knowing that we had a good run together. I wish him nothing but happiness and an idyllic life filled with love.
Those that are close to us have all been baffled and shocked that Gregg and I divorced. Just like that, it took two weeks to legally end it all. This is what happens when you have a clean break on friendly terms, when things are far from messy. And, let me just tell you, I'm still shocked by it all. I have moments where I stop to think "Holy shit, I'm divorced. WTF happen?" I never thought that this would be a reality. I really though that it would be 'until death do us part' not until Portland do us part.
The day I met him, I knew he was "the one." There was a type of magic, a feeling I cannot explain. I knew he was special, and that we would have a future together. The day I walked down the aisle to a string quartet rendition of Coldplay's "Yellow" and the moment we exchanged our wedding vows, I never in a million years would have thought that he wouldn't be my forever love. Never in a million years would I have thought that I'd be divorced at 31... or flat out divorced. I thought I would be starting a family at this point in life, not ending mine.
As you can imagine, this is undoubtedly the hardest decision we've had to make. I can't even express how heartbroken I am, and I know my ex-husband feels the same. Coming to terms that our relationship had reached the end, where we can no longer grow individually and as a couple, was devastating. But, I know that life has a grand plan for us, individually. I can only be grateful for having an amazing partner these last 10 years and all of the fantastic experiences we have shared together and the memories we've created. We can only walk away from things knowing that we gave it our all. I just want him to be happy and find someone that can genuinely fulfill that. Unfortunately, this was not me. I'm grateful that things between us are very amicable and we intend to stay friends.
Divorce Does Not Make You A Failure
And, as I'm picking up the pieces, wrapping my head around it all, and moving forward with life, it's hard to feel like a failure. A failure to not only myself, but to my marriage, my partner, family, society. I regularly have to remind myself that divorce is not a failure. Failure would be sticking around, living life unhappy with an unhappy partner, and later resenting each other.
I’ve got hope that life is going to be alright, in whatever direction life takes me. Although this is a transition that has flipped my world upside down, and even though the future seems uncertain, unclear, and scary at times, I’ve got hope that everything is going to be alight. I’ve got hope that my path will be a lot clearer - I may not see it now hopefully it’ll be one with an abundance of life’s riches in love and happiness.
Will I ever get married again? I'm not sure. But, I do know that I am less open to the idea of marriage not because I don't believe in love but because I don't believe in a legal bounding document to prove a deeper commitment. The legality of it all makes it that much more complicated to walk away, and not to mention the blow to your self-esteem.
When you've just been through a breakup, it can leave your self-esteem torn. You feel that there must be something wrong with you, even if it was a mutual break or you were the one that initiated it. Are you unlovable, unattractive, or undeserving? The truth is that you're nothing of the sort; your self-worth has taken a knock, and you need to rebuild it.
What about the heart break and moving forward? Here are five ways that I've gone about healing a broken heart...
But, guess what? Being single isn't all that bad.
Suddenly being confronted with your newly single status may come as a shock. It's scary to lose the support and reassurance that having a partner gives you. But being single isn't all bad; once you get used to it, you'll realize that you're coping just fine. And there are some pretty good points to it; you can do what you like with your time, and don't have to deal with the problems that your relationship brought.
Breaking up doesn't mean that you aren't lovable.
Women are particularly prone to blaming themselves for the breakup. They reason that it must have been their fault somehow. Perhaps they weren't good enough for their partner. But breaking up doesn't mean that you're unlovable, or that there's something wrong with you, it just means that things didn't work out between you. Nor does it mean you'll never find love again - or that you don't deserve it.
Avoid trying to validate yourself by rebounding.
Your confidence can really take a knock after a split, especially if your ex swiftly moves on to another woman. So you may try to give yourself a sense of validation by rushing into a new relationship, or by having one-night stands. This won't actually help your self-esteem, and could even be harmful. Don't try to prove you're desirable by having rebound relationships.
Spend TIME with people you love.
One thing that will really help rebuild your self-esteem is to spend time with people who love you. Being around family and friends will give you an emotional boost and make you realize that there's more to life than a relationship. You'll realize that there are people who think you are amazing and love you unconditionally.
Do things you enjoy.
Although you might not feel like it, being single has a huge advantage; you can do exactly what you want with your time. You can be as self-indulgent as you like, and do all those things that your partner disliked or discouraged you from doing. Start that hobby you've been meaning to try out, resurrect an old interest, or take that vacation to a place your partner didn't want to visit.
Valerie is a San Francisco native who loves overall health and wellness. She content creator and recipe developer, helping brands in the Fitness, Health & Wellness space tell their stories through gluten-free, mostly plant-based food, life + travel.