One of the things that I did the poorest job of in my marriage was being wholly myself. Falling in love at such a young age (16) was beautiful, but it did fundamentally alter who I was. I was so much more pliable in my actions than I would have been at say, 25, and as a result, I adopted many facets of myself that I am sure would not have otherwise presented themselves.
The majority of my healing from my divorce has come through a new definition-of-self, as authentic and raw as I can allow myself to be. So few people are offered such an opportunity in life, and I have been determined to make the very most of it, and not to leave any stone of my soul un-turned.
It began in small ways. Making a list of likes and dislikes. I even had a difficult time deciding what my favorite food was (I've since settled on Lemon Chicken from Martha Stewart's website). Next came the bigger decisions. The first of which I had to make was what I wanted to do for a living, as I only had two years of college under my belt and never completed nursing school. I examined my options for financial aid, and realized quickly (and gratefully) that the government wisely supports the goals of single parents who seek higher education. After a year of taking just one class per semester to see "if I could even handle school" as a mother of three infant twins and a toddler, I had decided. Months of deep thought led me to teaching. I took a half-time load while staying home to raise my sons, and I've been slowly chipping away at each requirement ever since. Putting my children first in this way has been difficult, but incredibly rewarding, and I'll always cherish this time I've had with them, regardless of how crazy it has been.
Now that I'm confidently on the path to career fulfillment, I've been slowly burying the hurts of my marriage and life away from myself. I believe that women are beautiful, powerful beings, and while I'm not a feminist, I'm certainly a firm believer that God created two sexes for a reason. We both have a vitally important role in the world, and our caring, nurturing spirits are one of the most important aspects of who we are. Allowing myself to finally embrace this through gardening, home keeping and caring for the members of my community through volunteerism has been the most rewarding part of moving beyond the depths of where my situation led me.
Lastly, I've discovered things about myself that I never knew before. The value that live music holds in my life was drastically under-emphasized, as it would turn out. Also, the value of running every day. These two things becoming an intrinsic part of my day have been an incredible lift to me, and lift me from the floor even when I think all is lost. The freedom of putting one foot in front of the other and having no other responsibilities pulling on me in that distinct moment is such a thing of beauty.
Praying for each of you on your journey,