When I got divorced four years ago, I didn’t have anyone in my life to discuss shared experiences with. Very few of my friends had been divorced, and those who had seemed to find love and move into new relationships or marriages rather quickly. I had an amazing therapist who helped guide me and dozens of beautiful friends who held my hand through the process, but no one who could really relate to what I was going through. It was lonely. I felt lost at sea.
I started writing about my experience, first in ridiculously long Facebook posts, and later in this blog. An acquaintance who had unfriended me on Facebook later told me he couldn’t stand reading my blogs. He had been divorced too, and he said I just needed to keep quiet and move on. Other friends worried I was divulging too much personal information; and that people might perceive me as weak or self involved. I kept writing.
I kept writing because it was the purge I needed, but also because people started reaching out to me in private messages to say they were going through something similar, or that they wondered if they should leave their spouse, or they were feeling the frustrations and loneliness of single parenting. Slowly, I began to form relationships with new and old friends who had shared experiences: a former co-worker; a high school friend; a friend of a friend of a friend. It was nothing short of magic. And to this day, those people hold enormous real estate in my heart — because we helped and continue to help each other.
Divorce has become my identifier. I know this. A few months ago I was interviewed by a local publication for a story about successful co-parenting. The first line of the article was, “Courtney Heiser is a divorcee.” I cringed, and laughed, and felt enormous pride at once. While the demise of my marriage doesn’t define me, it is a big part of who I am, and I’m not ashamed of that. In fact, I’m 100% certain I wouldn’t be the person I am today — a person I quite like, by the way — had I not gone through the pain of separating my life from the human I loved most in this world.
So it’s been almost 4 years. Why keep talking about it? What’s left to say, really? I can only imagine people rolling their eyes every time a post includes this subject matter. That’s okay. I get it. I roll my eyes at myself sometimes too. But here’s the thing. Healing is not linear. And while I feel so good about where and who I am today, and all the growth and progress I’ve made, I will always have moments when I miss my first love. I will always have have moments when I feel the deep rooted pain of passing my son back and forth between two houses. I will always have moments when I feel shame and regret for the ways in which I failed my marriage. Those things never go away entirely. They are real, and they are worthy of acknowledgement.
My divorce changed me in profound ways. It brought a host of beautiful new friends into my life; it enabled me to strengthen existing friendships; it broke me first, then made me stronger; it taught me about the value of transparency, and healthy conflict, and brutally honest communication; it made me less selfish and more compassionate; it led me to myself. I’m still learning. And yes, I’m still healing. You can’t put a time stamp on that. And why would you want to? So much of the good stuff is discovered on the journey. ❤️