The moment when everything changed and nothing would ever be the same.
He wasn’t open to counselling. Wasn’t willing to have a conversation. There was no warning. It was over. My husband wanted a divorce.
I had a 9 month old and a 3 year old and was still off on maternity leave. I didn’t have a job to go back to because for the previous 6 years I had worked with my Mom at our family business, and she had recently shut her business down because she was healing her body from cancer. Obviously, her health was her main concern, not running a business!
And then the real journey began.
The 7 months that followed those few words were absolutely devastating. In a nutshell, my husband refused to leave the family home and I was advised by my lawyer that I could not leave it either. Well, I could. But not with my kids! Not until we received a court order outlining our visitation and custody arrangements. So…………I waited for us to get before a judge. And that took 7 months!
It’s probably important to mention that shortly after those words were spoken, it became clear that my husband had started a relationship with “the woman downstairs”, our tenant. So, for 7 months we all lived in our family home together. My ex, myself, my 2 daughters, his girlfriend and her 2 daughters. We didn’t live together as in, sit at the kitchen table and chat over dinner together! We each had our “corner” of the house and co-existed together. That 7 months was a living hell. I know that’s not a positive way to describe it, but that is how it felt, so no point in pretending it was otherwise!
How did I do it?
In my deep desire to help other women overcome their personal life challenges, I often look back on that time to gain clarity on how in the heck I got through it. How did I get through this challenging time in one piece, with two amazing kids and with my dignity intact?
It was an awful time. There’s no sugar coating that! But, what got me through? If you’re a Mom, I’m sure you’ll guess. It was my girls. I knew I had to be okay for my girls. They needed a Mommy, and a sane one at that! I needed to be okay for them, especially now that our family had been torn apart.
So, what got me through?
I held on tight (like with a vice grip tight!!) to who I am at the core and reminded myself of that over and over again.
Who I am?
I have always defined myself as a kind and loving person. It’s very important to me. I won’t pretend that it is only motivated by wanting goodness for others. The truth is that it’s also fueled by what could even be considered as selfish. I want to feel good about who I am and look back on my life and have no regrets. Selfishly, I want to be “good with me” at the end of my life (which also explains the birth of our company, Life Without Regrets). I knew this long before we started our company……..this is how I’ve always wanted to live my life and also want to help others do the same.
During those “7 months”, I reminded myself constantly………..I am a kind and loving person. I am kind and loving person. I am a kind and loving person. It was like a mantra, and I said it over and over again in my mind.
Why, you might ask? You might be thinking………they did something awful (my ex and our tenant). They were wrong. They hurt me. They betrayed me. (And I haven’t shared with you what actually went on in that 7 months…….I’ll save that for another time) And, yes you’re right.
However, there are two important points here. First of all, if I responded like a “mad woman” and did awful nasty things to them (as many said I should!), I would have had regrets, and likely been embarrassed by my behaviour at some point in the future. And, more importantly, I would have behaved in a way that wasn’t aligned with me. I stubbornly refused to allow them to change me! Honestly, I felt like they would win if they changed me into an angry and bitter person (and in some ways I think they would have liked that!).
I imagined how that would “go down” if I did freak out at them. This is what I saw. Them smirking snuggled up together, laughing at my crazy behaviours……..and it was clear to me that wasn’t going to happen! Not a chance!
And, here’s the real deal.
More important than anything else was my girls. They would have seen a nasty, crazy, angry lunatic for a mother. And, I don’t need to go into all the ways that this would have messed them up. It just would not have been fair to them………at all! They needed to feel loved, safe, secure, cared for. They needed something in their life to be “the same” while everything else in their life was changing. And that something was me. The kind and loving mother they knew and loved.
I was not perfect. I wasn’t joyful. I was in a lot of pain and quite sad a lot of the time. But……………….I got through that time with my dignity intact and can honestly say that I look back on that experience and I have no regrets with the way I handled myself. Sure, I wished it had all happened in a different way that hadn’t created a 7 month period of hell. And I wish my beautiful children hadn’t experienced a sad Mommy, divorced parents and all that comes along with that. But, given the circumstances, we did pretty good! I didn’t turn into a mad woman!
And no-one can ever take that away from me.
The One Small Tip with Huge Rewards
Don’t let the situation change you into someone you are not. Whatever is causing your pain right now (and assuming another person is involved), they don’t deserve to have the power to change you. One day this will be over. And if you make choices to behave in a way that is aligned with who you are at the core, you and your kids will be okay. You have each other. Love and cherish what you do have now. And if you do that throughout your journey, you will create a Life Without Regrets.
Written by Melanie Robinson / firstname.lastname@example.org