divorce and remarriage, the fear & bits in between
I thought about it a million times and a million different ways.
I think all the thinking, all the worry, all the wonder - it ended up crippling me so that I didn’t move at all.
I stayed very very still.
The problem with divorce is that nobody talks about it before it happens. You hold onto everything until one day, one very important day, it’s released.
It shakes everyone around you. Much like a car wreck, it draws attention in the wake of trauma and suddenly everyone is rubber necking their way to see what’s going on and try and figure out:
“Who was at fault, here?”
Change is inevitable. Change can be good, and change can be bad.
Knowing this, can make us avoid it all together.
I don’t talk about my last marriage, because it’s 11 years to unpack, and 13 years of relationship to unfold, and 3 kids that I will keep protected in the middle. This isn’t just my trauma, or my ex’s trauma, it’s the kids’ too.
So I’m not sharing specifics, but I will speak into my divorce.
Because it was hard. It was lonely. It was filled with shame, and a lot of unknowns.
However, it was also the first time in my life I was able to push back on societal standards. Far before the acceptance of my body came into play, far before I was ready to share my voice, far before I was on my own two feet.
It was funny, sitting there worrying for years about what it would be like to lose my home, lose friends, lose status, lose my stay at home mom job, lose time with my kids, lose some pride in the wake of what would be said about me. All those things happened, and yet, with not a dollar to my name or a house to call my own, and moving in with my parents, 3 kids in tow, and not even a car to drive - I felt peace, I felt freedom, I felt a taste of happiness.
Now that all sounds amazing, losing it all and being at peace. But the reality is that it was a complete rebuild. I had to figure some stuff out, and I had to do it fast.
I was already working a couple nights a week as a server, and I needed to amp that up to about 4-5 nights a week. I had to lean on my parents more than ever. I had to borrow my mom’s car. I had to scrap together money to buy a laptop so I could start applying for jobs and hide the fact that my life was completely shattered from future employers.
Two weeks later after “the wreck” I sat in a coffee shop with my ex husband as he asked me for more time. More than I had already extended. More than I was able to give, or appease.
During that conversation, my phone rang.
In a split decision, I chose to walk away and take that call.
<This is where my faith is gonna just jump in a little bit. No matter what you believe, I’m going to share just my own experience with mine, hope that’s cool.>
This was the moment that God stepped in for me. To be honest, at that point it had been years that I had wondered where God was at all. Why was I suffering? Why was I given this mountain?
In that moment, in that one phone call, God was stepping in. He was showing me his handiwork in all of this great-huge-explosive-car-wreck of a situation. He was showing me his grace.
That phone call was from a friend I occasionally hung out with. We were best friends in high school and then grew up, and grew apart with life, but always stayed in touch. That phone call was her telling me that she was going on maternity leave in a month, and her workplace (the very one I’d been eyeing for years) needed someone to come in and fill her role while she was gone. They weren’t taking applications. They didn’t have time. It was a straight-to-the-interview situation. I was the only one who was called.
I’ve told this story before, but you know what? It bears repeating. A million times over, we need to be reminded that life is not just set in stone. There are things we control, and a whole lot we don’t.
Sometimes we move. Sometimes God does.
I need you to know that all those years I felt alone and that God had left my side, the reality was (for me) that He was doing more. He was laying the groundwork for my life. He had seen my struggles, He had heard my cries. He was waiting for me to do something about it.
Honestly, so was my therapist.
But again, the worry, the change, the crippling thoughts of what life would be if I made this change.
If I wrecked this car.
If I caused this trauma.
In that job interview, I sold myself short. I told the CEO that I was coming out of being a stay-at-home mom, that I didn’t have experience. Heck, I didn’t go to school.
I remember him looking at me and saying that Motherhood is experience, challenged me for leaving blogging off of my resume because it was valuable, and shared that he, too, didn’t go to school.
So yeah, I took the dang job.
And I started shopping for a car.
A couple weeks later, the first day on the job, I met a lot of people. It was overwhelming.
As I was being introduced to people around the room, my coworker-friend pointed at a man walking to the copy machine said to me “and that’s Shane. He wears plaid everyday.”.
In that moment I heard a voice. Call it God, call it intuition, call it the Universe. I don’t care. I heard a freaking voice.
“He’s important” was all it said.
(Cool, thanks for the vague response, inner voice)
It was not love, it was not basic attraction, it was not anything but this simple feeling of importance. It sat with me a bit weird. Especially because I was NOT in the headspace for dating, or the lifestyle for it. I wasn’t interested in that. I was interested in healing. I was interested in being alone. I was interested in my kids, and our happiness.
Men were not currently a focus for me. They were exactly was I was de-focusing, to be honest.
So what the heck do I do with this?
I did what any normal human would do, lived my dang life and got to be friends with all the coworkers, Shane included.
Over the months I got to learn that we had a lot of things in common, so it was easy to talk. We were both in transitional stages of life. He had been divorced before, and was going through a breakup, too. It felt kinda good to have someone else know how hard this stage was. Except, I was doing it with kids.
Flash forward a while, have Shane meeting the kids, have the kids wing-womaning me, have my family all falling for this guy, and have me finally accepting that it was ok. That I was allowed to give myself permission to date, and to be loved.
And the rest was history!!
See part 2 of this story is the messy in-between: The recovering from the car-wreck-style-trauma, three kids, a new independence, two jobs, living with my parents, and come out from a significant weight loss, and trying to find myself in the middle, WHILE DATING.
Meeting Shane didn’t mean that everything just worked out. It meant I still had to work through a lot (a lot, a lot). Things I didn’t expect. Fears that were holding onto me like nothing else. And then, the other side of fear.
I guess that’s the whole point of this post. The things I learned in the in-between. Sure, there’s this beautifully woven story of two people in the shambles of life coming together and being a family. There’s God’s hand. There’s the universe and probably the moon and all it’s power just making things right.
But this was my mess. These were my fears. These were also, my lessons.
I want to walk you through some of those first fears, the ones that really played with my head before and after the wreck. The fears that held me down, and had I not journeyed through, would have prevented me from all of the rest of the story, which is what I’m living right now.
So here we go.
Fear 1: “But I Have 3 Kids”
Reality: I am not someone with baggage, I am a Costco-pack of a deal. You get a 4 for 1 bundle of relationships. We are lucky to have him choose us, he is lucky to have us choose him.
Fear 2: “My Mom Bod Will Be A Turn Off”
Reality: My body has served many purposes. One of which, brought me the best three gifts in the world. It’s also stretched and shrunk a few times, and it’s shown for it. I deserve to be seen. I have worth. My body is not a scratch and dent. It’s designer.
Fear 3: “What If We Break Up?”
Reality: I am not complete because of a relationship. I am not someone’s half, I am my own whole. I am here by choice, not by necessity. (As an add on note to this: Shane also committed early on that he would be an active participant in the kids lives, if I wanted, if we were to break up. This was key for me. It continued to allow me my own choice without fear of the kids having to lose him if we did . Something to keep in mind if you’re dating someone with kids!)
Fear 4: “Will I Have To Sacrifice My Career, Because He Has A Big One?”
Reality: Both partners can both have careers. This wasn’t my experience before. I was used to being the supporting partner. I was used to being the one at home. I am now able to be both a contributing partner, and a supporting partner. I am allowed to ask for help. I am worthy of support, too.
Fear 5: “My Mental Health Is Unstable, And May Be An Issue”
Reality: That’s true. My mental health includes PTSD recovery, triggers, and anxiety. These are pillars of me, they are NOT me. I am not those things. I am someone who deals with these things. I can share, I can be open, I do not need to hide these pillars in order to be loved and accepted.
Fear 6: “What If Things Change As My Body Changes?”
Reality: Meeting someone at a low weight or certain body type is not a contract to never change. Meeting someone when you’re at one stage of life, is not asking to stay still. I am allowed to grow. I am allowed to be well. I am allowed to gain in my wellness journey. I am still worthy of love and admiration. I am more than my body.
Fear 7: “A Blended Family Is Going To Be A Disaster”
Reality: It is not me and the kids vs Shane. Him coming into our lives, makes him part of the village. He has rights here. He has a voice. He is my partner, my newly appointed co-parent. He is loved and adored as a father-figure, blood or not. He will build a relationship with my children based on a desire to love them, apart from just me. They are in good hands, because I chose the hands that would hold theirs.
Fear 8: “What If I’m Wrong, Again?”
Reality: Trusting yourself to make wise relationship decisions when you failed once before can be scary. However, it was in my first marriage failing that I was able to learn and create awareness and authority over my voice, my needs, my love. I am aware that not everything lasts forever. I am aware I have choice here. I am honoured that we choose this every single day. I am excited for what’s next. This relationship feels like freedom, not an obligation.
Fear 9: “Should I Have Stayed Single Longer?”
Reality: There have been times that I’ve wondered on this a lot. Why did I meet someone so newly after my divorce? Even if it wasn’t pursued for some time, it was there. I went from one marriage to the next, in the span of a few years. But, I’ve realized something. I’ve realized that I don’t know I was ready or able to take on much else. Dating, may have caused more pain and trauma for me. Maybe, just maybe, God wanted me in the right hands, right off the bat so that I could land safely. That the kids, could land safely too. That we, collectively, would rebuild on a firm foundation, instead of having to sort through a rocky one to get to it.
Honestly, there’s been a lot of fears over the years. There’s been times I didn’t know if we would make it because my fears were so great and so strong, that I was ready and willing to walk away to listen to them.
I don’t live fearlessly.
I live with fear.
But I also live through fear.
And that’s where I am right now, on the other side of fear, having journeyed through it, and living with the beautiful gift of perspective that it’s given me.
I did something really right that day. That regular Wednesday in November. I did something that scared me. I did something that would change our entire lives.
If only I could have seen then, what I see now.
Everything that was waiting for me, on the other side of fear.
Today, I don’t know what your story is. When writing mine, I can’t tell you what’s on the other side of yours.
But I can tell you this: we all have a voice, and we all have choice.
It’s something I didn’t always know or acknowledge for myself. Maybe it’s something you’re still struggling with today.
And while this all sounds like a romantic love story with another person - the reality is, it’s a love story of a woman with herself, her three kids, and the choices she made to support them all. It just happened to be that someone made a perfect addition to the mix.
His name is Shane. He is my husband. My partner. My love.
He was placed in front of me, and fear stood in the middle.
All photos by @PaintedWhitePhotography