It was eight and a half years ago. Nothing but nothing could have prepared me for me husband's unexpected announcement: "I love you but I'm not in love with you. I want a divorce. It's non-negotiable". I had three children at the time, aged 3, 22 months and 8 months. I was 30 years old. There was no fight. There was no warning. I literally fell to pieces. My world, as I knew it, was over.
I literally could not swallow my new reality and my weight quickly dropped to 38 kilograms. I was grief-stricken, heartbroken......crushed. I used to beg God to please take me in my sleep and I would fantasise about having a head-on collision and ending all my pain. I felt worthless, useless, ashamed and a failure. I also panicked about how I was going to manage on my own.
Six and a half years prior, when I said my wedding vows, I had never ever dreamed that divorce would ever be my reality.
I think a part of me died that day when he said goodbye.
What I never realised at the time is that divorce is like a death....in a different way. It's the death of a dream, the death of hope, the death of being part of a unit. Statistically, divorce is rated right up there on the major life stressor scale with death of a spouse. Divorce can be a massive trauma. Divorce can be initially devastating.....but it doesn't have to be the end.
I certainly allowed myself a fair length of time to grieve and mourn and express my emotions. I sought every bit of assistance that I was able to – I saw a therapist and a life coach. I journaled and went to spiritual healers. I leaned on my incredible family and friends. It was one friend, in fact, who actually jolted me onto the path where I find myself today.
I had been crying for about four months. My friend was seated at the foot of my bed. In her characteristic no-nonsense style, she asked me: "When are you going to choose happiness?". She then continued: "If you don't make an active choice to be happy, you will find yourself in the exact same space where you find yourself today....in four years time." Wow – she was right. Until this point, I had literally felt like a victim of my circumstances – as if life was happening to me and there was nothing I could do about it. In this moment, I realised that I still had a choice. Of course, transformation takes time and it was not like I was magically healed in that moment BUT from that day on, I made a conscious choice to take active steps towards creating happiness.
So, how does one do this?
• Allow yourself a little time to think and wonder – what do I enjoy doing? What makes me happy?
• Grab your diary and make sure you schedule in happy time each day, even if it's for a few minutes. It doesn't have to be something elaborate or enormous – it could be as simple as listening to beautiful music or taking your dog for a walk.