One of the first things I had to relearn as a teenager was identifying what was actually my problem and what others were telling me was my problem. I would spend hours reevaluating everything in my head about what I had done wrong and how awful I was as a person. It was shameful to hear all of the things that I thought about myself coming out of someone else's mouth. It hurt when I finally decided to start changing all the behaviors that were causing me grief.
I learned from many professionals that the key to finding out what I could do better was in this phrase: "If it fits, let it sit. If it doesn't apply, let it fly." This means that while many people may think they know you, the only person whose opinion matters is your own. For example, a few weeks ago I was on the phone with my dad crying about how ashamed I felt about getting divorced. I yelled at my dad when he tried to tell me that there was nothing to be ashamed of. I hurt him, and my dad let me know. I felt very proud to know that instead of lashing out like I could have done, I chose to listen and hear what his feedback was. If I hadn't, I don't think I would have felt as happy and positive as I do right now. He told me that when people you love hurt you and you have to walk away, it only means that there is something better around the corner. My dad is an amazing individual that I look up to for just this reason. While I could turn hateful, my dad reminded me that sometimes those we love will hurt us badly because they do not know anything different.
I feel so grateful to have had these past few months of reflection on how I can better myself as a person. I've taken feedback, even when it has hurt, and learned to let what matters sit and all the rest just float away. What I learned from this experience is that I am a kind and loving person. I am strong, independent, and capable of forgiveness and understanding, even when someone has hurt me deeply. I've learned that I am capable of setting boundaries when it is justified and I am able to understand the situation from a perspective of growth instead of anger. I am capable of moving on from a situation because I did not give up, but instead I put my foot down about things that were not okay with me and the reaction was to walk away.
Having my marriage end in such an abrupt way was traumatizing. It was terrifying and sad and confusing. It was also understandable and had been coming for months. I don't mean it was understandable in the sense that I did something to deserve this. I mean that it is understandable because someone I loved felt like they were in so much pain that they had to do something so drastic. I have watched many people I love change over the years into people I hardly recognize. I have watched loved ones be so wrapped up in their own mental illnesses that they can't control how they react. I've had to say goodbye to a lot of people because of how their own personal issues were affecting my own abilities.
I've heard many opinions as to how I'm supposed to feel, how long I'm supposed to process and how I'm supposed to deal with the end of this chapter. I've heard that I should still be in shock, still be committed, should still wait for whatever comes next. I've been asked what I'm going to do, where I'm going, whether or not I need a fresh start, when I'm getting the divorce papers finalized. I've been told to take power back into my own hands by filing the papers myself. I've listened over the last month as I've processed what's happened. I've sifted through what I thought was accurate and I sat with what I needed to. I've learned that I don't need to take power back when I already have the power within myself. I learned from this experience that I am kind and loving, and that I am a committed partner to whomever I'm with. I've learned the full capacity of how I love others and I've been able to express it to people that I wouldn't have been able to if this hadn't happened to me. That chapter in my life has closed, and I don't need a piece of paper to tell me that I am done when it was done the moment I decided I was ready to move on. I could choose to wait for a piece of paper to tell me I'm free or I could just be free now and to hell with what anyone else says. What happened to me was upsetting, and therefore I do not need an official piece of paper telling me that I'm single when that part of my life was decided for me. I did not get any choice in the cards I was dealt, but I can definitely continue to move forward and not care what others think.
I learned a long time ago that trauma can provide the most change as well as the most opportunity to see the beauty in every day life. I was supported by friends and family, I was supported by strangers that I didn't even know. I've had multiple conversations with men and women who have been in the exact position that I'm in right now and I've learned a lot about what I deserve and what I don't. I've seen small moments in my life where people who care about me have shown up and told me that they love me and care about my well being. I honestly never expected to have so many people be there for me in my time of need, which also showed me that I deserve better.
I'm so excited for what's next, even if I have no clue what that is. I've been able to see lovely things from lovely people that I never noticed before. I also get to appreciate the kind and decent men out there that do exist that I never would have noticed if not for this situation. I had a guy I had known in passing for years treat me with such kindness that it brought me out of a place I didn't know I'd get out of. He was kind and decent, and it meant the world to me to have someone just be kind because they could see I was sad. If there are men out there like that, then there is still hope that I can move forward without hatred or anger in my heart. I can move forward now knowing that there are plenty of people out there that I could share my kindness to that will see me for who I am and appreciate me in return.
I don't need anyone to make me feel loved or appreciated. I don't need opinions or feedback when I already know I'm okay. I don't need to be told when I should be okay and when I should move on if I already have. I don't need to have a piece of paper tell me that it's okay to finally move on. I do however want to still smile and feel happy because that's the kind of person I am, and if someone can make me smile in my worst moment then I would like to do the same for them. It's not selfish or cruel. I don't feel guilty anymore. I won't allow my love for the world to be tainted by trauma. I will however allow myself to express my appreciation towards others that so obviously deserve it.