My ex-husband and I when we were 15

365 Days into Divorce

I feel like I’ve done it. At some point this month I passed the year mark. From when my husband moved out of our home. From when I found out he was already on dating apps. From when I accepted our marriage was over. From when I filed for divorce.

A year ago, I questioned if I would even still be alive in 365 days. I had so many things to do alone. Sell that dream home. Get rid of all things that are him. Be alone.

This year has been the most life-changing one I have had the honor to live. Here are a few things I have learned.

The Consequences Keep Going

Separation and divorce doesn’t end the moment one of you moves out, or the day the divorce papers show up in the mail. It follows you. Financially, physically, emotionally. In the past year I have struggled financially due to the callous way my ex decided to go about our divorce. I have lost one of our dear dogs who could not handle the loss of his daddy and became highly aggressive. I have lost other relationships, friends, family, and people who just do not understand how as a God-fearing woman I could get divorced. Dating is complicated, people seem to run at the mention of a 24 year old divorced woman, and they run further as they get to know me and realize the extent of my mistreatment.

You Can Love Again

I remember when he left, I thought I would have no place to go with the love that I had for him. I believed it would just consume me forever. It doesn’t. It finds other places to go. I love myself more. I love my family better than I have in years. I have found new people and connections to throw that love into.

Dating is Terrifying…but Worth It

I had never realized how much I sacrificed to be with my husband. My faith, who I was as a person, honestly most of my identity. Getting to date again has allowed me to truly discover who I want to be with for life the next time. To see flaws in others he didn’t have, or strengths he could have never possessed. It has been terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. There are good people out there, you just have to find them.

The Anger Doesn’t Lessen

At this point last year was when I began to get angry. Angry at a man who quit our family without even trying. Who failed to communicate constantly. Who was a coward. I was angry at how he was treating me through the separation process, and how it was affecting my family. I expected that to lessen. It hasn’t. When I think of the tears of my family members when they miss him. How my brother lost a best friend, my parents a son, I am so angry it is almost hard to speak. My husband failed in every way to do anything to be compassionate towards those I love most. When I imagine my sweet dog in his grave, put there by his own father… I do not think that will ever not fill me with hatred.

And there it is. The depth of it all. When I think of my husband, of how terribly he treated me, how better I have been without him, and what he did to our family…I hate him. To my core and like I have never hated someone before. And yet.

There is Love

When I think of the sweet blue eyed boy I danced with at prom almost 10 years ago. Of the man who wrote love letters, sent texts in the middle of the night to tell me I was a blessing. Who was goofy and fun, patient and comforting, and home to me in every way. The man who I snuggled up to and scratched his back at night for him to fall asleep. I am still filled with so much love it shatters me. I fear I will never love like that again, only because if I were to lose that once more, I question my ability to get through it. I pray for him daily. I have never stopped since we got married, and a year out of separation I still haven’t. I pray for his safety, I pray he is loved and happy, and I pray that he can forgive himself and heal as well.

Most New Experiences are Both Joy and Grief

There is so much life that is lived in 365 days. So many things he has missed out on. Family vacations, sibling game nights, our boys growing and changing, my own growth and change. People I have met that he would have loved. People who love him that wish they could see him. And every one of those moments is bittersweet for me. I am so grateful for the life I live, and I know that a lot of those moments have come from the loss of him. But the fact that he isn’t there sharing in the joy is a shadow that I fear will always haunt me. I have moments on family vacation where I need to go and take a long shower just to weep at his absence. But I remind myself he chose to miss them. He didn’t want to be there. I deserve someone who wants to be there.

And so I focus on how much life has been lived. How much joy has been present. The amount of love and support that has surrounded me. The way that even as I wouldn’t recognize who he has become, he would recognize me in an instant. I have always known who I am, but in the past year I have been able to come alive. To be myself again. And I truly believe if he looked he would be startled at how the woman he fell in love with is here in full force, just older, wiser, and much kinder to herself.

Sometimes I wonder if that would hurt for him, to see me how I am now. But his hurt is not my burden to bear. And I plan to live the next 365 days as fearlessly as I can, with grief and joy coexisting, surrounded by love.

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