I think we can all agree divorce is one of the most difficult things you can go through in life. At first, there is the initial fear of worrying about the kids and how you’re going to make it on your own financially. After the anger subsides and the assets are divided, you’re left with the feeling of loss. Even when you wanted out of the marriage, you go through the stage of regret. You wonder if you could have done more to work on your marriage. You wonder if you let the fantasy of being with someone new cloud your judgment. Reality hits and once the ink dries on the divorce papers you’re suddenly hit with the thought of “What have I done?” coupled with the disillusionment of having to start over.
You feel as though you have a phantom limb that you know is no longer there, but you can still feel it. The remnants of a life shared and shattered dreams you once had. You walk around in a fog, never fully present because you just went through a battle with the person you loved the most. They were supposed to love you forever. This wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. You go through the first year just barely holding it together but you do for the kids’ sake. Then one day you wake up and the fog begins to lift.
You realize that you need to stop dwelling in the past and you suddenly have a glimmer of hope that this is your second chance. You finally step out of your comfort zone and you start dating other people. At first, it’s exciting and you enjoy getting to know new people and having sex with someone new seems like the best sex you ever had. Then you realize that none of these people are really measuring up to your expectations and sex without love ends up feeling empty. Somehow, this so-called “second chance” seems out of reach.
The thing about divorce that hurts the most is when you see your ex doing things with their new love that they never did with you. This is so fucking cliché isn’t it? Suddenly, your ex that never really did much with the kids becomes Disney Dad on the weekends and you wonder why the hell didn’t he do all this fun shit when we were married? Well, it happens to almost everyone and it’s because divorce forces you to evaluate who you are and how you fell short in the marriage and as a parent. It also becomes a competition on who can win the love of the kids and become the favorite parent. This usually happens because of a guilty conscience knowing you really messed up your family and now you’re trying to create a do-over. You’re trying to redeem yourself for acting selfishly and you realize that your kids suffered because of it. This is not just true of men either. I know plenty of women that did the same.
During this stage of my divorce, I tried really hard to stay positive about all the fun stuff he was doing with his new girlfriend and our sons. I figured as long as my kids were spending time with him and enjoying themselves—that was more important than my jealousy of the fact that I wish he had done this all along.
Recently, as you may know, my ex-husband had a baby with his new wife at the age of fifty. Now, I’m going to be perfectly honest, in the past, this might have sent me over the edge, but I’m at a better place now and I’ve accepted that we were not good for each other. That and the fact that there is no way in hell I would want to start over by having another baby at this stage in my life. I was teasing him about it and told him that he could potentially a grandpa and a new daddy at the same time. That our grandchildren will be having playdates with his kid who will be their uncle.
Yes, I admit, I rubbed it in and got so much pleasure in telling him that he is a walking cliché of an old man going his mid-life crisis. Now that the baby is here, it still feels weird for my kids and they don’t say much about it, but I know they struggle with the whole concept a little bit. I just encourage them to be a part of his life as best they can and bite my tongue about the posts I see on social media with my ex going apple picking with his new baby. Seriously? Apple picking with a newborn? Do you know how many times I tried to get that man to go apple picking with our kids? He never did that shit with us and now I see him doing professional photo shoots with his new family and I just shake my damn head. Then I shift my thinking; accept that he is taking advantage of his second chance and so should I. I refuse to be petty and live in the past, but I also think it’s healthier to admit that this shit is annoying. For some people—it can really cut them deep early on in the divorce.
I talk to so many people that have been through a divorce and this a common thread in most experiences. It’s okay to feel envious of the life your ex has created post-divorce, but it’s important not to stay there.
Yes, you need to be honest about your feelings, but you also have to have the strength and insight to be able to let it go. Otherwise, you remain stuck in bitterness and you won’t be putting the energy you need into creating your own second chance.
Don’t blow it. Having a second chance at life and love is a gift. You made mistakes the first time. I know I did. This is your chance to have something better because you’ve learned from those mistakes. Don’t take that for granted. Don’t waste this precious time on being petty and jealous over someone you don’t even want anymore.
Whatever you do please don’t waste your second chance on another asshole either. This is your do-over! Do it right this time. Focus on exactly what you want for your entire life. The first step has to begin with true forgiveness. Forgive your ex for what they did to hurt you and send them love and light. I can truly say I can do that now. I’m happy for him and his beautiful new baby. I’m glad he gets the chance to do it right this time and I really think his new wife has helped him grow in ways I never could. Sure, I may have a moment of eye rolling when I see pictures of them doing all the stuff I wanted him to do, but I quickly turn my thinking into something positive.
I’ve learned to love my life just as it is now and focus on how amazing it will become. This is the second step in your healing process. You have to let go of the past, find gratitude for the present and believe the future will be everything you want and more. This is the roadmap on your journey to your second chance. Be grateful you have the opportunity because some of us never do.