"I didn't find love again until I let go of the guilt and shame."

By: Olivia Claire for Divorced Moms.

Happiness comes from within, that I have learned through the years. It takes healing, reflection, and hard work, but once you learn to love yourself, you reap the rewards.

Divorce. Such a painful action and hurtful word, filled with so much heartache, sadness, and grief. But yet, so many go through the process and endure the heart-wrenching emotions that follow.

It is a damning blow that literally takes our breath away and does its best to knock us down. One day you’re married and the next you’re not. Broken hearts, separate homes, custody arrangements, separate lives are all a shock to the system and we begin to function solely in survival mode. Giving up is not an option and some days it is all we can do to put one foot in front of the other.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner recently divorced. Image via Getty.

I initiated my divorce so I carried a lot of shame and guilt for a year. For a year, it was eating me alive. But I realised I cannot and will not carry the brunt of the blame for the demise of our marriage. It takes two to make a marriage work, and for many years our relationship was one-sided. I had my faults and so did he, and we determined the underlying issues of our failed marriage. After coming to that realisation, I am okay with the decision. It doesn’t make things easier, but I have learned to accept and forgive so I can move forward.

Moving on, dating and finding love again:

Love. I never thought I would experience it again. My heart was ripped out after my divorce and I was an empty shell. My self-confidence had plummeted and I felt people looked at me with pity and judgment, as if I had this huge label taped to my back screaming, LOOK OVER HERE: NEWLY DIVORCED FAILURE.

Patricia Arquette plays a divorced mother in 'Boyhood'.

I had dated some after my divorce and it scared the hell out of me. Looking back, I probably wasn’t ready. I suppose I try to see the best in everyone, and soon discovered not all people are as they seem. Some thrive on the vulnerability of a newly divorced woman and will take advantage at every ample opportunity.

So, I had my fair share of rebound relationships and dating mishaps. With that said, I decided that I was not going to be a victim of my divorce and I sure as hell was not going to let people walk all over me, especially men. So, I kept my guard up, dated here and there, and overall met some nice people and made some new friends too.

They say things happen when you least expect it, and boy is that true. I had thrown my hands up to the idea of dating and was not going to waste any more time with small talk, games and bullsh*t. I have children. They are my life, my priority, and my focus was going to be solely on them. Who needs a man? I sure as hell don’t.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had both been married before. Image via Getty.

It happened really as a joke and I was not planning to take it seriously. I was visiting friends whom I discovered had met online. So, our conversation turned to my many online dating disasters. And when I mentioned a particular dating site, they had never heard of it and wanted to see what it was all about. Well okay then, let me show you. Ha. Phone apps make things so convenient and it took no time to create an online profile.

It was then I “matched” with him. We chatted and I thought nothing of it. But as we talked more and more, it became apparent we had a lot in common. So one day of chatting online led to an exchange of numbers. Texting turned into phone conversations, and we soon agreed to meet for dinner at the end of the week. For some reason, I was nervous as hell.

It was then I "matched" with him.

I was nervous and I did not expect him to be so great. I did not think my heart was capable of feeling anything for anyone again. And after that first meeting, something inside me ignited. A tiny spark. His calm demeanour, sense of humour and thoughtfulness put me at ease, and the first time in a long time, I felt I could truly be myself and not be criticiSed or judged for it.

The first date was amazing and there were many more incredible dates to follow. He is so caring, so considerate, and such a good man. He took the time to get to know me and enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed his. I knew early on he was different from the others I had dated and that scared me. I did not want my past experiences and heartache to sabotage a good thing. Divorce is messy and I wanted to make sure mine did not have him running for the hills.

I still have days where I’m not my best and I have to take it one step at a time. But he is right there with me. Who needs a man? I sure as hell don’t. And that statement still rings true. But I want a partner and I've found him. He is a companion and friend, and an extraordinary person who makes me laugh and smile. He adores me and my children and adds a little more joy to my life each day.

When did you know it was time for a divorce? Post continues after video...

As a result, the void that once filled my heart has become much smaller. He has made me realise that it is possible to love again.

Divorce - Who knew after a heartbreaking action and such a damning word, happiness could follow.

Happiness comes from within, that I have learned through the years. It takes healing, reflection, and hard work, but once you learn to love yourself, you reap the rewards. Continue to love with all you have; Love yourself, love your children, love those around you, and you will be amazed at how beautiful life can be. And when the time is right, someone will love you and make you realise why it didn’t work out with anyone else.

Have you been divorced before? How did you move on?

This post was originally published on Divorced Moms.

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