I had no idea what life would look like or if we would all be okay...
It’s five years since my marriage ended.
Overnight, I became a single woman and a solo parent. Pre-separation, I had no idea what life would look like, or if we would all be okay.
It feels like this time has flown, since that terrifying and unknown moment in time. When I look back, I’m really proud of the life I’ve created for myself and my two boys. I don’t see my divorce as a failure – rather, it's been a conscious choice to course correct our lives regardless of the emotional, financial and personal challenges I’ve had to work through. This is what I have learnt in the five years since.
Positive learnings from divorce
1. Life can be incredible
When I met and married my husband, I had no idea of who I was or what I wanted from my life or my partner. This, along with the treadmill of daily life, resulted in me living a very unhappy existence. It wasn’t my marriage that was the core issue, but once it ended, I had the absolutely terrifying (but totally liberating) responsibility and control over my entire life, setting the rules and deciding how I wanted each day to look and feel.
A house filled with love, positivity, laughter and lightness is one thing I’m very proud of creating and super grateful for.
2. Co-parenting is a long game!
If you’d asked me five years ago, I would not have anticipated how challenging co-parenting would be. My ex-husband and I have an amicable relationship – no conflicts or ongoing issues, and yet this is still a tough area to navigate.
Two people who are no longer a team and who obviously see the world differently are trying to guide, nurture, and make both big and small decisions for two small humans. There are different priorities, rules, expectations and vibes in each home, and maintaining alignment with someone you have chosen to separate from can be hard.
I’ve found that the wisdom of ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ and ‘choose your battles’ prove to be insightful guidelines for this space!
3. Modern day/mid life dating is a world of its own
This should be an entire article (or perhaps an entire series!) all of its own!
The dating world is an overwhelmingly deflating and terrifying place, with just enough glimpses of potential to keep you invested. Only those who are dating post-divorce (particularly in those early days) understand that the landscape, language, unwritten rules and standards that can feel like you are visitor on another planet.
Prepare to hit up Google, because to this day, I don’t know what some of these terms are that have been thrown my way in the past five years! Dating apps, situationships, ghosting, speed dating, friends with benefits, cyberflashing, breadcrumbing, lovebombing, cuffing, gaslighting, flags (green, red and beige), soft launching, orbiting… it’s exhausting, confusing and disheartening.
The positives are that it will almost certainly accelerate your personal development and growth, firm up your boundaries, and provide absolute clarity of what you do and do not want in a partner!
4. I can do hard things
I’ve always been an independent woman who loved learning and being able to ‘do anything’, but since becoming single, there are several new things I have had to step up and do.
Going to the rubbish tip for the first time, buying, transporting and putting up a real Christmas tree, becoming a solo homeowner, moving house and cooking the BBQ are all day to day jobs that I felt a real sense of accomplishment doing for the first time.
Post-divorce, I’ve also deliberately and consistently challenged myself with things outside my comfort zone, like jumping off a pier, solo hiking, tree surfing, paddle boarding, walking on fire and travelling solo (amongst many other things) to see what I am capable of, experience adventure , and show my two boys that life is for living!
I should note, that despite living by myself for five years now, I’ve still never mowed a lawn – perhaps this should be added to my goals list?
5. The love I always dreamt about is possible
I grew up with Disney movies, soap operas, and Mills & Boon novels shaping my idea of romance and what a relationship should look like. Somewhere inside, I had an idea of what I wanted in a partner, but the Hollywood rhetoric along with a big feminist push during my teen years had me incredibly confused.
I had a few long-term relationships and then got married in my mid 20s, and all of those relationships seemed to confirm that my expectations were simply too high, so I compromised on the men I was with and on the dynamics within these relationships.
Post-divorce, I dated quite a lot (let’s call it research, shall we?), and once again, compromise seemed like the only option. However, with my personal growth, increased confidence, and clarity of what I wanted in a partner and a relationship, settling was simply not an option, and I wondered if I would be single forever.
After something like 99 first dates (seriously!) I finally met a man who I adore and admire, who loves me in a way I have never experienced ,and am now in an incredible relationship that brings so much to my life on so many levels (but let’s not jinx anything here!)
I have learnt that what I wanted and had hoped for all along was in fact possible, and that it was absolutely worth waiting for!
Upon reflection, I have no regrets and am proud of the way I’ve conducted myself and managed myself and my children through some difficult times. I feel like we’re all much happier, more resilient, and emotionally intelligent humans than we would be otherwise. Along with my two boys, I have created a life and a family unit that I love and am super proud of. I’ve grown so much as a person since stepping into this role.
Now to attempt to mow those lawns…
Laura Petrie is a registered Counsellor and Certified Coach based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a solo Mumma to two gorgeous boys, a nature lover and a joy seeker, who went through a journey of personal development to transform her life from ‘simply existing’, to designing & living a life she loves!