Lessons through divorce: Taking ownership of my life

It’s almost two years since I found myself walking down a long, straight dirt road holding a plastic packet full of laundry to do at my parents’ house, not sure whether to cry or laugh at my seemingly absurd new reality.  I was 42 years old at the time and at the beginning of a divorce. I had left with nothing, least not a washing machine or a vehicle. If someone had told me a few years ago, that this is where I would be in my life right now, I’d have laughed in their face. ‘Never,’ I would have said.

Every few days, I’d make my way down the farm road to do my laundry. It’s a  road that I’ve known all my life, but one that now felt completely different. With every step I took, this long straight road began to take on a completely new meaning. It felt like a representation of my life at that time and of the choices I’d made.

When walking this road, I felt acutely alone on my journey and exposed when all I wanted to do was disappear and not be seen. I wanted to be alone and out of sight. I knew well that this road I had chosen would be a road that I’d feared and avoided all my life.

I’d be judged, I’d be excluded, I’d be rejected, I’d be accountable, I’d lose many friends, I’d lose respect, I’d be the gossip topic of the town and I’d be very, very unpopular! I’d be in the spotlight. I would take centre stage but for the most part, not out of admiration. People would be confused by me, outraged, disappointed, saddened, and shocked. They’d try to make sense of my choices by creating a narrative about me that fits in with their understanding of who I am and of my life. They’d try to change my mind, and ‘help me’ see sense – how I was making the worst decision of my life and to rather do the ‘right thing’ according to them and their values, their beliefs, their reality and their assumptions of what my life is like.

From the very beginning, I knew these would be the consequences of my choice to change the course of my life and those closest to me.

This would not be an easy road – but I chose it anyway. 

That day while walking down that road, I felt something for the very first time in my life. This journey was hard and often upsetting, but it was my choice.  I was not forced to take this road, I chose it knowing it would be difficult and knowing that there would be consequences. That day was the first day in my life that when it got really difficult, I did not blame someone else for it.  For the first time, I felt accountable for where I was in my life and fully responsible for my own future – that though some things happen to us that are not our choice, how we respond to it and deal with it, is a choice. It’s my choice. And I am accountable for my choices.

That day, on that road, I took full ownership of my life.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.

If in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

For the last couple years, I have been exploring the theme ‘To surrender to what is, before I can go forward.’ Much of it has been while I have been going through a divorce and it’s acutely aligned with where I am in my own life. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s been a challenging couple years, but ‘surrendering to what is’ has been absolutely necessary for this time in my life. There are many layers and steps to surrendering, but one of them which I have been experiencing recently is ‘accountability for my choices, decisions and behaviour – in the past and in the present.’ A huge part of surrendering is to look directly at what is, even when it’s hard to look at because it involves accepting that though things happen to us that are not always our choice, how we deal with it and how we go forward from it, is our choice – as hard as that may be. I have found it a particularly difficult chapter, because I’ve had to look back on my life and identify and be accountable for when I’ve made mistakes, for when I have behaved badly or for when I have hurt the people I love and when I acted from a place of fear and ego opposed to a place of love and truth. Surrendering is very much about looking at what I don’t always want to see about myself and how I have played the biggest role when it comes to where I am today. Surrendering  is accepting full responsibility for my own life and being accountable for the choices and decisions I have made in my life.

I am not quite done with exploring the theme to ‘Surrender to what is before we can go forward.’ But I am nearing the end of this theme.

Before I move on to the next human condition which will be ‘New beginnings,’ I would like to share with you my divorce journey and what I have learned during this time, which is very much aligned with ‘surrendering’ when it comes to how I have approached this time and divorce.

Note that my ex husband is a really good person (!) and I will not be writing about him, or our marriage or my experiences with him during a divorce. It’s all the other big lessons and things I’ve learned about myself and about people during this time that I feel will be helpful for some of you, especially if you are going through a divorce.

I will also soon be writing about the life of an inspiring woman called Nathalie who was sexually abused by a family member up until her teens and her journey of surrendering to what is in order to go forward with her life.  

It’s been an incredible journey so far. I feel like I have learned and experienced so much these last two years. Divorce is hard for many obvious reasons, but it can also be a time of healing, growth, positive change and being true to who we are. As much as it is about a painful ending, it is also about choosing how to go forward with my life and what that looks like, then doing the necessary work on myself so that I can begin again and walk with confidence and direction into this next chapter of my life.

Rosie Goes ©2022

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