Hello everyone, I hope you all had a great memorial day!
I've been wanting to write about something that's been on my mind lately. I tend to write a lot about past hardships and overcoming them, but I don't tend to write as much about my current struggles; post-divorce. I want to talk about those in hopes that it can relate to anyone who finds themself in a similar spot; or even to those who are experiencing different circumstances, but are left feeling the same way as me right now; a bit out of place.
It's hard to entirely explain what it's like to go from being married, over time being completely removed from the "single life", to being thrust back into this world that has felt forever behind you for so long. For me it's felt foreign and strange at times leaving me unable to even know how to handle it.
So I think about it in this light sometimes: I was married when I was twenty years old. Shortly after, my at-the-time husband and I continued our education at BYU-Idaho, living in Rexburg for a brief few months until we moved to California where we awaited our move to Vermont. Even though I was excited for our new adventure at the time, it was very intimidating. I had just found out I was pregnant with Everett, my oldest son, and moving across the country, away from any family or friends, newly married and pregnant, felt very much like being thrust into the real world and out of adolescence.
During our time in Vermont, I became a Young Women’s leader for my church, and all my friends were older than me, with established families and lives. I felt like a grown up - it felt like a very literal evolvement from child to adult as I went from sitting in Young Women's as a girl, to teaching alongside the other leaders and sharing my life experiences.
After a year, we moved back to Idaho, and into a home in a family neighborhood. The neighbors and ward members were my good friends. We often congregated in the grassy center of our neighborhood to watch our children play while we chatted about raising toddlers and others talked about raising teenagers. At this point I really didn't have many friends who were single anymore and most of the friends I had made in the the couple years prior were also established and married. It's hard to explain what I am trying to convey - but basically my point is, my 'single life' or life before I was married, was far, far behind me. Rather than being the noisy, obnoxious kid or young adult roaming the fields with friends behind our neighborhood at night, I was the one opening our sliding back door starring them down until they got the hint and quieted down so my family and I could enjoy a quiet evening.
For a while, my at-the-time husband and I thought Rexburg would be our forever. We loved our little neighborhood and tiny town that sat just outside of the epicenter of "college central". Neither of us were attending BYU-I anymore at this point and we felt completely removed from that scene. Neck deep in this phase of life, my troubles were so different than they were in high school or college. I remember having moments, listening to my babysitters or the Young Women I taught, and knowing I must have felt the way they described about the difficulties and angst that came with friends, deciding what they were going to do, and dating; but it felt just so distant. My troubles were now centered around my anxiety, an intense pregnancy, a traumatic birth, moving, finances, trying to support a husband starting a new business, family functions, raising young children, and my sleep disorder. My social life was not a priority or a focus. It certainly would have never in any way been such a major playing part in my life to ever feel "troubled" about it. It was just a part of my life that I got to come and go out of as I pleased. I was married. I had a family. My neighbors. My extended family. My ward from church. That was enough.
When you get divorced something happens; at least I've found something has for me. Slowly, over time, I've started to notice a gradual shift. Things feel weird at family gatherings - and it has nothing to do with the members in my family. It has everything to do with the major change that has taken place in my life. It's not that they are treating me different, but more like I feel different, because things are different. This feeling then began to extend into all aspects of my when interacting with others. It's hard for it to not.
I often feel like a kid again. Which is always strange considering I have my own. The future is more unknown than it was at the time I graduated high school and left home for the first time. And having two beautiful humans relying on me makes that fear of the unknown that much more amplified. I often feel conflicted and confused when trying to find my next step.
Then there's also this other added piece, of feeling like there is a gap or a hole in my family and in my heart. I will always have my children, for which I am forever grateful for and wouldn't trade. I have my extended family. I've made a lot of friends I am so blessed for. But the reality is, no one will ever be able to fill the space of a spouse, except a spouse. Someone to be a teammate with, to be able to relax with at the end of every night, to share in the joy of watching children grow, and all of the other wonderful things that come with marriage. I know that must sound strange coming from someone who obviously didn't "ace" their marriage and who experienced a lot of difficulty in the majority of it. But I still feel as strongly, if not stronger, as I did the day I entered into marriage. That it is sacred, special, powerful, and necessary. That the family unit is meant to have a father and a mother and there truly is a divine order to things. I'm not judging or criticizing myself for my circumstance or anyone else in a similar situation, life happens. Things unexpected... happen, and it is tricky to navigate, foreign even, but it doesn't change the fundamental truths I know. It strengthens them.
So if it wasn't clear, yes, I would like to get married again. I am in no rush and will absolutely take my time in these things. But, I also do feel a sense of need to be putting myself in positions where I can have the opportunity to meet and get to know people in order to find that person. So, I've done what you do when you're single and would rather not stay that way for long... gone on dates.
It truly was really fun at first, I really didn't date a whole ton before I was married to my ex, so it was kind of a new experience. Not to mention, any experiences I had were completely different with this new world of dating apps and social media. However, after being in the dating world for a little over a year, I can honestly tell you... it sucks.
There's nothing worse than having to go on a first date, in my opinion. It's awkward, it's time consuming, it takes a lot of energy, it's a lot of the same questions, and let's just say it like it is... it's a shot in the dark most of the time. So then there are times where I am perfectly content filling my that void with friends, having bonfires, movie nights, game nights, chilling, and just skipping the whole dating thing all together. But then that can feel almost a little eerie at times... because it feels like I've jumped into a time machine and gone back in time.
It’s just odd. Because there are times where I yearn for that settled, "adult life" and feeling of normalcy back. I crave independence, having my own home, and developing my own life again - with my own neighborhood and community. Then there are other times where I love to embrace being single again. I love having so many friends and talking about dating with them, I love being with people and realizing just how spontaneous and outgoing I really can be. I've gotten to know a lot of different, amazing people and realized my own ability to make friends.
It’s like this constant tug-of-war though. This "stage" of life I am in has polar opposite ends, probably because it's not even really a stage. I go out and have fun with my friends, then I come home to my apartment that sits above my parent's garage. When I walk in I see my sweet six-year-old's door cracked open as he is sound asleep. I hear the sound machine going as I walk past my sleeping three-year-old’s bedroom. There are toys on the floor and dishes in the sink. Everything is peaceful and quiet as if life has always been this way. But it wasn't. And sometimes, I just sit on the edge of my couch, a bit perplexed about how I got here, knowing that not only has it not always been this way, but that things are certain to change again - I just don't know when or how.
It's a surreal feeling and it’s hard to always know what direction to go in and what to give time and priority to. It's like I'm running in place. I sometimes feel like I'm trying so hard to move forward, but I'm not even sure of what that is, or how much control I have over it. I'm doing all I can, but it doesn't always feel like it's getting me anywhere. And I think a lot is because these two places in life I am in are in constant opposition with each other.
I know I’ve often talked about healing being an up-and-down process before. It's a lot easier to say during the ups, and I'd be lying if I said that lately hasn't been one of the downs. The other day as I was driving out of the canyon, after studying the talk about spiritually defining moments by Neil L. Andersen, I thought about my life as a whole. It really has been rich and full - and I'm only twenty-seven. I’ve been able to experience so many incredible spiritually defining moments and this may a hard spot, but I think perhaps it has the potential to be one of them. I know I’m going to get through it.
It's just hard sometimes, when I feel like I’ve come so far and made all this progress in the last year and a half, to then feel like I'm back where I began. So aimless and without direction, because the world that I thought I knew, that I thought was my reality and forever, was suddenly ripped up by the roots, leaving me standing there only to look at it and realize it’s time to start again.
I suppose what it all comes down to is growing pains... right?? We're all on this journey of life together, each of us in our own unique circumstances. Whatever your circumstances may be, I'm sure many of us have had moments, at one time or another, where it felt like our lives were ripped up by the roots, finding that it was time to start again. Healing is not linear. It is a process. Sometimes we heal, for those wounds to remain healed, and sometimes we heal, but our wounds reopen.
Whatever it may be, there is beauty in knowing, we have healed before, so we can and will heal again, through our Savior. And each time we go through that difficult process, He will be there every step of the way. Progress is progress. I'm learning to not undermine my own progress simply because I have setbacks. That's just part of the process. I still don't really know what I'm doing entirely... or how to properly navigate these two different "phases" of life I seem to simultaneously be in, but every phase of life has their growing pains, and I'm certain that one day I'll be able to look back, older and wiser, and feel gratitude for my younger self who went through it to get me to where I needed to be.