Today marks exactly one year since my divorce was final. The thought had crossed my mind from time to time over the past month that it was coming, but it wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I realized it was here.
I don’t even know how to describe the past year. The images that comes to my mind are detox or rehab. The kids and I have just been healing…which can be a painful process in itself.
For some of the kids, the loss of the constant stress and tension in the house was as much of a cause of distress as the loss of their father living in the house. It seemed like they needed to act out regularly just to recreate the former conditions of the home.
But a year later that seems to have finally dissipated. They still have their moments (they’re only human after all), but others have been able to observe the change in how they carry themselves and act and react to others. When my parents have come to visit the past few times, they’ve noticed that the kids aren’t having as many temper tantrums and emotional meltdowns.
As for me, it’s been an emotional roller coaster ride. Overall I am happier and healthier, and wonderful things have been happening. The downs have usually corresponded with me falling into the same old emotional and communication patterns with my ex-husband. With the distance of not having to interact on a daily basis, I’ve been able to take each blow up between us as an opportunity for self-examination and learning new and healthier ways to behave.
There’s been a lot of introspection in general this past year. With the help of my priests, my spiritual director, my therapist, my parents, and my wonderfully, awesome circle of friends, I’ve been able to start to find my center of gravity again. I’ve been examining the roots of my codependency issues, looking at my personal strengths and weaknesses, and determining how to use that information to move forward to become the person that God wants me to be. It has not been easy, though, having to expose my own seedy underbelly and poke at wounds that are still more tender than I realized.
One often hears about how healing the annulment process through the Catholic Church can be, and I have found that to be extremely true. The 20+ pages of answers they requested made me really think about the patterns in my past that led me into my marriage, and the mandatory evaluation by a psychologist helped me to gave me some new focus and perspective. The annulment has already been approved by my diocese and is currently under evaluation for due process by a second one; I should be hearing the official word by the end of this month.
Financially, I’ve recently hit a bump in the road. At first I was upset and worried, but God has really sent me an abundance of blessings through the support of my friends and family (I’m talking direct intercession, y’all.) I’ve come to realize that God is using this to help me overcome some long-time personal, stumbling blocks that I’ve had in order to get me where He wants me to be. Through all of these ups and downs, I’ve been reassured of His constant presence and love for me.
Upon the heels of the divorce, it was tempting to try to turn back time and imagine that I could be the person that I was before I got engaged to my ex-husband (which is when things first started going off the rails) or that I could turn our family life into the kind I imagined it would be if the marriage hadn’t always been so dysfunctional. It took me a little time to realize that I am not that person anymore and that I can’t keep thinking about what might have been. So, then I began trying to build a life for me and my kids moving forward from where we are right now, only taking those things from the past (positive and negative) that will aid me in doing so.
On the practical end of things, I will be staying home with my kids for one more year. The older three will all be in our parish school this year. I’ll be homeschooling the kindergartner and taking care of my now 3-year-old “baby”. In a providential turn of events, I’ll also be taking care of the youngest child of friends from church and school.
In the next few months I’ll be applying for my early childhood education teacher aid license through the state, with the intention of trying to secure a full-time work position at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. But I know that lot can happen in a year, so for now I will just do what I can do to keep us moving forward and leave the rest in God’s hands.