Why Your Failed Marriage Was Not a ‘Waste of Time’
I married at an age when most of my peers were still firmly entrenched in the world of cocktails, nightclubs, partying and travel. It was 1998 and I recall feeling blissfully grateful that I’d met my life partner so young because I’d never really been interested in being a young person. I was twenty-two and ready start my grown-up life already.
I wanted a husband, a house and a secure job. More than anything I wanted babies. I got all of these things because I made it my absolute life mission to get them. It was only after the birth of my second (and final) child that I was able to relax a little, secure in the knowledge that I’d made it – I’d successfully built a nice secure little world for myself.
I now know that I was actually so insecure in myself that I truly felt I needed all of these things in order to feel successful and safe. I attached myself fiercely to my family and my things lest they suddenly be ripped away. I’d worked hard to build my little world and clung to it fiercely.
Fast forward to 2015 and my world was in fact ripped apart thanks to my husband’s announcement that he no longer wished to be a part of it. His declaration sent me spiralling into a pit of grief, and with that grief came a BIG dose of regret. I was heartbroken, humiliated and angry and had never felt as scared or defeated as I did then.
All I ever wanted was to be a mother and a wife. When my husband left, I felt that he had robbed me BLINDLY of that opportunity. The hurt was unbearable and it warped my sense of logic and reasoning. In my grief, I honestly felt that seventeen years of my life had been wasted – that it was all for nothing.
But grief, like all things given space, time and allowance, has a funny way of subsiding. Once I allowed it to loosen its steadfast grip over me and my life, I began to see the situation a little clearer. Nothing had been wasted. A lot had been gained.
If we can teach ourselves to look at everything we’ve been through – the good, the shit, the devastatingly beautiful AND the heartbreakingly painful as lessons, then we begin to see that none of it was for nothing. Nothing we’ve ever been through has ever really been a waste of time.
When you feel that your failed marriage or relationship was a waste of time:
Here’s three things you can do if you’ve found yourself stuck in the ‘All of those years were a complete waste of time!’ mindset:
· Look at what the relationship taught you
My divorce taught me that everything truly does happen for a reason.
Our experiences – good AND bad – shape who we are. And my marriage was a good one for the most part. We shared happy years together – the births of our children, family holidays, Christmases, milestones. Being married allowed me to become a woman and face adult responsibilities, and I learnt some valuable lessons during our partnership – not least of all grown-up, messy love.
And the END of my marriage shaped me into the woman I now am. The perhaps cruel irony is that I absolutely would not be who I am today had my husband not forced me to face my demons by leaving me.
I was pushed, maybe for the first time in my life, to be a big girl – to stand on my own two feet and look inside, rather than out, for love and validation.
If you can be willing to step outside of your pain, hurt and anger for even just a moment, I’m certain that, like me, you’ll find answers. You may see a bigger picture at play. You may come to see that you’ve grown and evolved and are no longer the person you were at the beginning of the relationship. You may also see this of your partner.
In time you may even dare to wish for an even brighter life than the one you’ve left behind! And you may come to the realisation that the strength and wisdom you gained at the end of the relationship is the force you need to propel you forward.
· Be grateful for what the relationship gave you
Obviously, if you and your ex share children together, it will be a lot easier to see the rewards of the relationship. Yet that does not automatically mean that childless partnerships served no purpose at all.
If nothing else, be grateful for the strength that surviving the breakup has given you. Surviving my very unexpected divorce gave me the strength and courage to look at allof my relationships and sever those which were toxic and needed severing(sadly, there were a few!).
My marriage also gave me lifelong friendships and experiences that I will treasure forever. I remind myself of this whenever I feel I’m drifting towards the ‘waste of time’ mindset.
· Make peace with the fact that nothing is ever really permanent
NOTHING in life is permanent, and finding the courage to accept this truth has helped me so much in moving forward.
I was once a control freak; I would cling fiercely to situations and people and try to manipulate outcomes so as to feel safe in the world. The ending of my marriage was something I could not manipulate or control. It just happened – and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
The realisation - after a lot of months and a lot of soul searching - that I would be okay no matter what, has been the greatest and sweetest epiphany of my life so far.
If we can adopt the attitude (hard as it may be at first) that for every loss there is usually, eventually, a greater gain, we truly can learn to live in the present moment – to enjoy the good whilst it lasts and to stop fearing the loss. It is truly the most empowering way to live.
Have you ever felt that a failed relationship or marriage was a 'waste of time'? How did you get through those feelings? Please, share your story in the comments.
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