I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time. I was unsure about where to start and I knew it would be a tricky one to write so it just went on the back burner for a long time. Why now? Well, over the Summer quite a lot in my life has changed; I got engaged. I’m now in a place where I feel that I can talk about what has happened in the past, my journey over the years and how it’s got me to a positive place where I feel content and settled. If you’re reading this and have been affected by divorce in some form or another, it may offer a little insight into how I’ve handled it and that feeling the way you do or have done isn’t unusual. So, with that said here we go…
Writing about my own journey hasn’t been easy but I feel that talking openly about my parents’ divorce has been cathartic. You’d probably laugh at the number of times I’ve written and rewritten the content in this post. I needed it to be just right and to clearly explain how something positive has sprung out of something negative.
The Divorce – the early years
So, let’s start at the beginning. My parents’ parted ways twenty years ago. I still remember sitting in our big red chair in the living room whilst my parents’ knelt down on the floor explaining to 10 year old me that their relationship wasn’t working anymore. It came as a complete shock and I didn’t cry properly for a few days as I refused to digest the news. When reality eventually hit I was a mess.
Without going into all the gritty details my dad moved out of our countryside home and it was just my mum and my little sister in the house, it felt so empty. Being early September I was about to embark on a new year at school so that boded for a rocky start. I was the first person in my class to have their parents’ split so I stuck out like a sore thumb, even more than usual – great!
Over the coming years, my sister and I divided our time between our parents’ homes. It was hard not to take sides, but we inevitably did when we’d hear them saying things about each other. Next came the new partners and their families which was incredibly hard to deal with.
The later years
Let’s cut to 2006. At this point my parents’ had been divorced for seven years, my mum was happily settled with my now stepfather and my dad had a girlfriend. We’d moved with our Mum from Berkshire to North Yorkshire a few years earlier so that she could be with the man she loved. At this moment in time, the split definitely wasn’t as raw but my whole approach to dating was dictated by what had happened historically. It wasn’t healthy.
During university I dated a few guys, looking back now I regret being in relationships all the time. I was no angel, but I dated some men that I really shouldn’t have been with. I guess I was afraid to be alone.
In my early twenties I moved up to London and dated two guys. With one relationship in particular I dived head first into it holding on for dear life even though I knew it wasn’t right at all. He was unkind, cheated on me and made me feel rubbish about myself, but I still stuck around – idiot!
Dealing with my abandonment issues only came after this relationship. I knew I needed to be single, to get to a place where I was strong on my own without believing that being with a man would make me feel fulfilled. Initially, it was scary, but I had an incredible support network of friends around me, I focussed on my career instead of my love life and a few months later I was in a better place.
This soul searching made me realise that the way I had handled relationships was borne from my parents’ divorce. Be it the lack of trust; the fear of commitment; wanting to hang onto a dying relationship or struggling to discuss my feelings. This new-found perspective made me realise that I didn’t have to double check relationships be it with men or friends and that I didn’t need to seek the reassurance that I’d craved for before. I was enough.
I met Nick, my Fiancée in 2012. We hit it off straight away, but at that point in time our stars weren’t aligned, and we didn’t start dating for another two years. Ever heard that saying When you know, you know? That’s how I felt when I met him. Without sounding like a complete cheese ball I knew he was the one. He was respectful, kind, trustworthy and made me feel good about myself. It was something I had never experienced before. Two years into our relationship he moved in with me and I knew that we were in it for the long haul.
Whilst I knew he was the man for me I was afraid of the BIG commitment; marriage. The predominant reason for my apprehension was a long standing insecurity I had from the time I started dating, that my relationship wouldn’t work out and I would be repeating history all over again, divorcing just like my parents did.
It wasn’t until the beginning of this year when things changed…
The turning point came in January. Realising that I had no reason to be afraid, knowing that I was dating an incredible man who adored me and who I adored. It was like a switch flicked in my head and I knew that I had to stop letting history prohibit me from finding love. If I let this fear dictate my life, I ‘d be stopping myself from being happy.
On 30th June I committed to Nick, he proposed, it was incredibly romantic and I am the happiest girl ever! That day I took a giant leap in the right direction, eradicating my insecurities surrounding commitment and intimate relationships.
How I’m Feeling Now
I read a statistic recently that 42% of UK marriages end in divorce. Sadly, my parents’ were both part of that statistic, but since their split they’ve both found happiness with other people. I used to wonder what it would be like if they were still together, asking myself if life would be better. I think this was one of the feelings I was holding onto for so long, but understanding now that they made a decision for their own happiness.
So, yes, twenty years is a long time, but how do I feel about it now? My parents’ divorce is part of who I am. Going through an experience like that at a young age has undoubtedly made me the woman I am today. Through being in a stable relationship of my own; maturing; learning to love myself; letting someone else love me; knowing that everything will be ok; I’ve mentally moved on. Don’t get me wrong, relationships are hard, they’re no fairy tale, but at the end of the day it was a choice I had to make for my own happiness and it was undoubtedly the right one.