I was very young when I married - in today’s terms at least. I was twenty-two and thought I knew exactly what I was doing. I didn’t.
Sauntering down the aisle, I believed the future course of my existence was set in stone. I was getting married; I would soon be having babies, making a home, helping to pay a mortgage and preparing cupcakes. It was all going to be perfect!
Fast forward almost two decades and that whole idea was swiftly AND efficiently ripped to shreds with the unexpected departure of my husband from the scene. To say I regretted our relationship and marriage would be a massive understatement.
I was heartbroken, humiliated and angry, and I feel slight shame now when I recall the unsavouriness of my thoughts at that time.
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 lost – that it was all for nothing.
But grief, like all things given space and 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.
I was still a mother, and for a very good portion of my life, I had been a wife. My ex-husband gave me that opportunity and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Here are three things which helped me deal with regret during and after the divorce:
The relationship gave me my CHILDREN
My most important role in this life is, without a doubt, that of a mother. When I was young, the idea of being a SINGLE mother was so foreign to me that I probably would have laughed out loud if someone had told me then of my eventual fate. But, here I am, still caring for my kids, still getting annoyed with them, still tired, and for the most part still loving it.
I have come to learn that mothering is mothering. It is great with a partner, and it is fine without. My ex is still my children’s father and will always be a part of their lives and so by default – for better or worse - mine.
There will always be milestone birthdays, graduations and whatever else pops up along the way. With any luck there will be grandchildren and weddings – him and I may even share a dance at one of those weddings (god forbid).
The relationship helped SHAPE me
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.
And the END of our 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 he 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.
The relationship taught me that NOTHING is really permanent
I was young when I married, and my ex was my first love. He will always hold that place in my heart. But now that phase of my life is over, and it is time to try something new. 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 thus far.
Have you struggled with regret at the end of a relationship? How did you get through it? Please, share in the comments!
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