Whether it’s meeting new people, spending time with extended family during the holidays, or just having a conversation with my hairdresser, I usually mention my first marriage and subsequent divorce 11 years ago at one point or another.
Well, I’m not ashamed of it, that’s why. And it just happened to be one of the greatest lessons of my life.
I wear my mistakes like badges. I write about them fervently because time is of the essence. I’m only here on this earth for a limited time and the experiences I’ve lived through have a right to be passed on.
There’s almost always a lesson that I’m learning, even 11 years after my divorce, that’s relevant or useful to other people who I come across in my travels.
It’s not that I can’t let go of the relationship itself - because I have - and I’m actually joyful that the marriage ended after many difficult years. It’s what I took away from the experience that I can’t help but bring up time and time again.
Even today, I am absorbing the total effect that the experience of “failing” at marriage had on me. And on the surface, I did fail — miserably. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I gave that relationship my heart and soul and — ultimately — my peace of mind.
I was married at 24 and divorced by 27. Add three years of living together prior to marriage and that’s six years of slugging away at a relationship that was plainly doomed from the start. But I’m not going to hide in the shadows of divorce shame.
I’ve blogged about the experiences of my first marriage, including domestic abuse and drug addiction. At the end of the day, the lessons I learned about myself, the depth of my strength, and my vulnerabilities are absolutely priceless.
I’m proud and excited to talk to other people — especially younger women — about what happened in my first marriage and how I dealt with life after the divorce. Knowing that my prior naivety and suffering can be an “aha moment” for someone who may be in a relationship that’s not working — or even an abusive relationship — is 100% totally and completely worth it.
I often say that I don’t subscribe to regret. What I mean by that is that even though there are things that happened to me or mistakes I made that I’d rather forget, I can’t repress them. Those memories will come back around no matter what, so why not be proactive and turn those difficult experiences into a valuable life lesson that someone else can gain knowledge from?