• Shona Dee

What I Learned From My First Year of Divorce

What I Learned From My First Year of Divorce

Divorce was never a part of my five or ten year plan. My mother and grandmother both had failed marriages behind them and after a few years of marriage I was certain that I had beaten the family curse. I was different. My husband was different – we were better than all of them. #deluded

When my husband announced he was leaving – for a younger, brighter, shinier version of me – I refused to accept his decision. I was in complete denial of reality and thought that with a little time and a little persuasion from me, he would come to his senses. I simply wouldn’t allow my family to be shattered because of an ill-thought out decision by him. #orsoithought

When my attempt at shocking him to his senses by hurling a push-bike at him (he wasn’t injured) didn’t work, I was forced VERY abruptly to come to terms with the fact that sometimes I, the girl who was used to fixing things, couldn’t fix THIS thing. #massivewakeupcall

So he left, and so began a journey of grief, sadness, hope and enlightenment for me – the girl he left behind. It was a long journey, and some of it is ongoing.

Here is what I learned during my first year of divorce:

I learned that despite the pain I wouldn’t stop breathing

As much as I sometimes longed for my heart to stop beating – it just didn’t happen. The sun still rose each morning and two children still expected their mother to get out of bed, prepare their school lunches and pretend that all was OK with the world.

I had never endured pain or grief to the extent that I did during that first year of divorce and there were days I actually found myself shocked to find that it hadn’t killed me. But you know what? The fact that it didn’t gave me strength and tenacity – the likes of which I may NEVER have otherwise acquired. For that alone I am grateful for the experience of heartbreak and divorce.

I learned that I wasn’t an ugly and undesirable woman

Being left for a woman almost twenty years your junior is a frightening and somewhat humbling experience. My sense of identity and worth was shaken to its very core – I no longer saw myself as even remotely attractive. So, I resigned myself to a life on my own and told myself that that was just the way it was. Who would want me if my own husband didn’t?

But the hazy fog of grief eventually started to shift (funny that) and with it, my sense of self-worth. I saw that I WASN’T a horrible monster. I saw that I managed to turn a few male heads every now and then. And I eventually learned that the issue of my husband no longer wanting me was HIS issue – not mine or anybody else’s. And boy was that a sweet epiphany!

I learned that I would have to work hard for the rest of my life to re-learn TRUST

When you’ve been in a relationship for more than a few years, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about trust. For the most part, you just get on with your days and do what needs to be done. Until the day that your husband leaves you for a woman almost twenty years your junior. From that day on, you find yourself second-guessing and questioning EVERYTHING. People, motives, life – everything.

It is not a pleasant way to live and that is why I made the conscious decision during that first year of divorce to work on my trust issues – for the rest of my life if necessary. Today, I’m pleased to report that I have come a long way. When triggered with something, I’m now able to stop and challenge my thoughts BEFORE descending into the negative spiral of fear and doubt.

I learned that I was a survivor

I learned the art of resilience. Before my husband left me I was often afraid – afraid of failure, afraid of rejection and afraid of abandonment. My divorce forced me to face all three of these things head on. With the breakdown of my marriage I had in effect failed, been rejected and been abandoned. And I survived. In fact, in time I realised that not only had I survived – I had positively thrived.

Now, it takes a lot more to ruffle my feathers. Of course, I will always be the same girl but I wholeheartedly believe that it is impossible to go through an experience such as an unwanted divorce and come out the other side unchanged. It changes a LOT. It changed me from a frightened and uncertain woman into a survivor.


I learned that nothing in life is permanent. That those things that almost destroy your soul and crush every fibre of your being and that you feel CERTAIN you will never get over - you get over. I learned that life is a series of highs and lows, and that if you work consistently towards making your life the BEST life for YOU – you’ll receive your fair share of highs.

I learned that life is a gift and that I don’t want to waste further precious moments stressing over things beyond my control. I learned that no matter how horrible a situation may seem in the current moment, there will always ALWAYS come the dawn of a new day. Life does indeed go on.

Have you been shown taught significant life lessons from divorce - or any other major happening in your life? Please, share in the comments!

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