Divorce is never easy, irrespective of whether the decision is mutual, the marriage was abusive, or the relationship was short-lived.
Things are much harder when kids are involved, but being child-free, it is not my story to tell.
What I can tell you is how I learned certain life lessons when my marriage ended, lessons I would never have learned otherwise.
So if you are going through a divorce, have been freshly divorced, or are simply considering one, take a look at what you stand to gain from your loss.
5 unexpected life lessons I learned from divorce
1. Divorce is empowering
Of all the things in the world, empowering is a word one would never think to associate with the failure of a relationship that is supposed to last forever.
However, that is exactly what it is, especially if your marriage was not healthy. In my case, I was unable to be true to myself when I was married.
Even something as personal as coloring MY hair was a problem for my partner. It goes without saying then that writing about mental health, a topic dear to me, was not something I was encouraged to do.
So guess what I did after my divorce? I started blogging about mental health and dyed my hair red.
Uncoupling is what enabled me to be true to myself on every level.
I used to be a directionless writer, today I have found purpose as a sociocultural and mental health blogger.
2. Anyone can get PTSD
It’s a common assumption that only certain people can get PTSD, like soldiers back from war, or survivors of violent crimes. However, anyone can get PTSD because the definition of trauma varies from person to person.
An event that barely affects me might scar you for life, and vice versa. And I learned this personally because the way my marriage fell apart caused me Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder aka PTSD.
A therapist diagnosed me with it after a suicide attempt and low-functioning depression landed me in her office. It took a while, but I’ve learned to function pretty well in spite of my deep-rooted trauma.
Some days, I’m surprised I’m able to even breathe, but it never fails to astound me how far I’ve come along in my recovery. Trauma can be reduced and managed with the help of therapy and coaching.
3. You can learn to be resilient
If anyone had told me I would lose my life partner and survive the heartbreak, I would have laughed in their face.
I am a highly sensitive person and honestly, struggle with codependency issues.
So when I was officially single again, I didn’t think I had it in me to heal my heart and rise from the ashes. I had crumbled and I thought I was always going to be broken.
My psychologist proved me wrong by teaching me how to build my resilience, that is, my ability to bounce back. And if someone as weak as me could become emotionally strong, so can you.
Given that I also have traits of Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition that makes it hard for one to have emotional stability, there could be no better proof of the fact that over time, resilience can be learned by anyone.
4. There is no such thing as undying, unconditional love
Like most of us, I too used to believe that true love is unconditional.
This is nothing but a toxic lie perpetuated by pop culture, and I snapped out of it only because my marriage failed. We all know marriages end and divorce rates are on the rise, but for some reason, we all think we will be the exception.
Psychological reasons aside, I think the primary reason behind this is that we have romanticized till death do us part to an unhealthy degree.
It’s unrealistic to think that love is unconditional and marriages should last forever — every relationship is built on the foundation of some condition or the other, and it’s perfectly normal for a relationship to run its course.
Like me, once you see the illusion for what it is, you’ll be thankful for this much-needed reality check that will change your entire life for the better. Of course, true love exists, but is it conditional? Yes, and that’s a good thing.
5. You are not your relationship status
Just like your job, your marital status doesn’t define you. Your self-worth does not rely on whether you are single, married, separated, divorced, or widowed.
The most important thing you need to remember is this: you are not divorced, you have been divorced. It is an event of the past, not a label that you need to define yourself in the present. I learned this empowering life lesson not in therapy or from personal experience, but by reading a piece of writing of the inimitable Bhavana Nissima.
The second I realized the truth in her words, I felt powerful and back in control. There’s no denying that it hurts to get a divorce, but sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is accept reality and do our best to work with what we can.
No matter how bad it gets, life goes on and time heals most wounds. At the end of the day, you are all you have, and the most important relationship you need to work on is the one you have with yourself.
I have learned to put myself first without feeling guilty about it, and I hope with all my heart you learn to put yourself first too.
Are you ready to turn one of your hardest times into your greatest achievements?
My name is Mahevash (pronounced Ma-hey-vash) and I am a blogger, author, and poet. I talk about culture, society, and mental health so that you and I can help make the world a better place — and be whoever we want to be. You can find me at https://www.mahevashmuses.com/.