For years I equated divorce with shame. My parents were divorced when I was little and I was determined not to follow in their footsteps. I was going to be the one to break the cycle that seemed to be plaguing my family. My mother raised me and my brother. And of course, I have my share of “issues” (doesn’t everybody) and my teenage years were a period of time when I really engaged in some horrible decision making, but I survived. My mom — she did the best she knew how and I honestly would not be where I am today without her. There I was carrying around a pregnant belly at nineteen years old, while people shook their heads and stared. Despite having doubts I married a man she begged me not to marry just weeks before giving birth, and oh yes, she drove with me to fill out the divorce paperwork months later because I decided to choose us and by us I meant myself and my child. But I also managed to return to college, work, graduate, and subsequently earn my Master’s degree. I juggled a part-time job, internships and research papers, graduated with honors, took care of my child, who was my top priority, and in the midst of all of this I also found love.
When you are going through a divorce or even ending a relationship with the person who helped you create your most prized possession, it is easy to feel like it’s the end of the world. You buy into the fact that you will spend your life alone and that no one will want to deal with you and your “baggage.” You worry that your child will pay for your choices and while our choices do affect our children I am a believer that love and support can trump the fall out behind your relationship’s demise. The red flags I should have seen or the fact that I should have known better or listened to my gut didn’t put my mind at ease when it came to my fears for my future or my child’s. As a result I poured my heart into being the best mother I could be and getting my education so I could provide for her. I was determined she would have a fighting chance.
Despite the fact that I am a statistic — we’ve all seen the numbers out there on failed marriages, I am also a testament to the fact that there are second chances when it comes to love. A divorce doesn’t have to be the end for you. A divorce doesn’t mean that you failed at anything despite what the small percentage of the population who is perfect might say (and they aren’t really perfect they are just too busy judging in an effort to avoid looking at their own issues). For me divorce means I succeeded. Sure I would have saved myself some headaches had I not got married but I finally stood up for me. I finally decided that I was of value and more importantly my child was. And by leaving an unhealthy relationship I was able to make room in my heart and my life for someone who would love me and my child.
And so here I am, a firm believer in second chances and with each time I share a part of my story I become a bit liberated. I had to get to a place where I realized that there was no reason for me to hold my head down in shame, no reason for me to be afraid of what people would think if they “knew.” And as a testament to the fact that life does go on, and in so many ways it only gets better, I wanted to share 10 reasons why I am thankful for my second chance at marriage.
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Him 2 of 10I'd be lying if I didn't admit that a part of me wondered if I would ever meet someone. Not only was I concerned about me but I had a child as well. History had shown me that I didn't always have the best judgment when it came to relationships so I was scared. I vowed to remain single forever. I didn't want to become someone else's statistic.
Their Father Daughter Relationship 3 of 10My daughter is just as much my husband's as mine. We made it legal on paper but a paper doesn't give our child a sense of security, it doesn't tuck her in at night as she says her prayers, or accompany her to the father daughter dance. Her daddy does.
A Belly! 4 of 10Pregnancy kicked by butt. I was sick every single day. But he was there by my side every single day. That was a new experience for me. A special and humbling experience. That wasn't my normal but he made it become my normal. I am honored this man is the father of my children.
A Baby! 5 of 10Had there been no us there would have been no baby. She has brought so much joy to our lives and her big sister couldn't be happier. She has thanked us for giving her a sister and despite the age gap has assured me that they are and always will be best friends.
Having a Rock 6 of 10I spent so many years trying to be strong and have it together. People always told me how strong I was but little did they know that I was scared. I was scared that I was going to somehow blow it — life. I was scared that I would make a wrong choice or mess up and my daughter would be stuck by my side while I navigated my mess. My husband has taught me that I don't always have to have it together. The days where I am weak he has enough strength to carry the both of us. The challenges I am faced with are no longer just mine.
Making Up 7 of 10One of the most beautiful things about my relationship with him is that I know he is going to love me any way. We mess up sometimes, we hurt each other's feelings or we make each other crazy but we love each other enough to keep holding on. We don't do things out of spite or to intentionally hurt the other person but we know that part of being human means sometimes you suck. But for us, part of being married is that you forgive and you love — not just when the person is easy to love but when it is hard as that is most often when they need it the most.
I Can Let It All Out 8 of 10Having a baby can be hard on your self esteem. I didn't bounce back after giving birth. I also have a weakness for dessert. There have been a few times when I have told my husband "turn around" or "don't look at me." He ignores what I say. He looks, he grabs, he holds me, he smiles, and he reminds me that I am his. All of me. Last night he even baked me cookies.
Accountability 9 of 10Sometimes it helps to have someone you know you are accountable to and not just with small things like your diet or remembering to get up early and exercise, but helping you to remember what you stand for in those moments you are tested. Someone who will stand with you.
Cheerleader 10 of 10My husband has been there cheering me on in everything I do. His eyes are the ones I look for in a crowded room; his feedback is the first I seek out after any venture. Even if he doesn't get why I am doing something or why I desire to do something he gets that it matters to me.
For me my second chance at marriage has given me so much more than I would have imagined. As with any couple we experience our share of challenges but I am spending my life with someone who I can and want to get through the tough stuff with. And everything that I went through made me appreciate him and the gifts I have been blessed with even more. Our love story is by no means perfect but it is a testament to the fact that some things really are better the second time around.
Can you relate to struggling with feelings of shame after a divorce? If so, how did you overcome them? Have you gotten a second chance at marriage?
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