Divorce sucks. It just does. It sucks whether you want it or not. It is the realization that a promise that you made with the best of intentions is now broken. The future you envisioned is changed. And if you take this journey seriously, you will be changed as well. It will be a painful process, but I firmly believe that if you let yourself feel what you feel, express what you need to express, and work through what needs to be worked through, you will be a better, stronger person. Your life will be one of contentment and with very little regrets for living your life on your terms.
One of the criticisms I often hear is that someone leaving a relationship should not start dating right away. I do think that getting into another relationship right away may be a form of escapism which has the potential of hurting an unwitting partner. I chose to join an online dating website about a month after I asked my ex to leave our home. Getting out there helped me to see that there were others who wanted to be with me, so in a way it was a boost to my confidence. My intent was not to have a relationship with one person, but to figure out what I would want in a future relationship. This could only happen through dating a variety of men.
While dating, I am also working on myself. The damage done during the end of my marriage brought up a lot of trauma that I had managed to bury for many years. This trauma is part of what allowed me to stay for months instead of walking away when the emotional abuse started. If I experience discomfort during dating, I find myself questioning where the discomfort comes from. Every decision I make is mine to be made. Yet there are times afterwards that I find myself questioning how I got into a particular situation.
For instance, I started communicating with one man who I will call Tom. He was a successful businessman who owned his own home, had two older children, and wasn’t looking for anything serious. We started texting each other and things moved to more sexual in nature. I don’t mind sexual talk in texting and think that it is fine between two consenting adults. We decided to meet up. We had a drink, talked and then we had sex. I consented. I wanted the sex as much as he did. Yet, after I left, I found myself crying, angry and sad that I was in this position.
What position is this exactly? I felt ashamed for having sex with a man I had just met. In the moment, I felt no shame. In the moment, I felt sexy and powerful. After the fact though, I felt ashamed. This made no sense to me because I knew going over there that we were having sex, so again, it was a decision I made for myself with full knowledge of what would happen.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. When you are sexually abused, there is secrecy and shame that comes with it. You are told not to tell and you are made to feel ashamed about sexuality. As a young child, I remember feeling proud of my body. I remember stretching in the morning and just feeling glorious wonderment when I would look at my body. That joy of my body was taken away by my abusers. I let that transfer into my relationship with my ex which impacted our relationship over time. I let that impact my feelings about sex and thus let my abusers have control over my sexuality decades later.
The year since I asked my ex to leave has been a year of growth, self-reflection and self-love. I have learned by dating what I want for my future. I have also learned that I enjoy sex. That I can be sexual on my terms. Dating has helped me, despite claims that people should not do this right after a break-up, for me it was the right thing to do. I own my sexuality and will not let my past define my relationship with it any longer.
Although my journey has been different(widowed, and then dumped by my serious boyfriend), I’ve learned a lot about myself, my needs, my strengths and my hang ups. It’s all been worthwhile, although much of it has been painful as well.