No matter what age you are when you experience a divorce, it is an immensely painful and life-altering experience, but becoming a divorcée in your 20s comes with it’s own unique hurdles. It is safe to say that most of us have not yet fully discovered who we are, nor have finished maturing completely until we are well into our 30s, if not 40s. We didn’t have the same experience and wisdom to lean upon during this tumultuous time, as we would have later in life.
I was 25 years old when my first husband filed for divorce, 26 when it finalized. We began dating when I was 17 and he became my world. At 18 I immediately moved out of my parent’s home, to live with friends for a few months, and then moved in with my boyfriend (ex-husband) and his family. I had never truly experienced life on my own. The person I had become in our time together completely revolved around him. Part of me changed to impress him and over the years the other parts of me were forced to change to please him.
He was a controlling man, who viewed me as someone he could mold into the person he wanted me to be, rather than loving me for who I was or finding someone he was better suited to. When he didn’t like my taste in music, he pushed his music on me. When he found my favorite movies appalling, he belittled me and taught me to read reviews before watching television. When I used foul language, he would demean me and shame me into speaking differently. He dictated my education, the food I ate, my friendships, and even what I was allowed to laughed at. I went from living with over-protective parents, to marrying a man who was like an emotionally abusive father.
I mention all of this to set the stage for how life smacked me in the face when I was set off into the world as a single woman for the first time in my life. It was as if I were a teenager all over again, about to flee the nest and experience life for the first time as an adult. I had no idea how to live alone, budget, date, and I had no clue who I was without a man there to tell me who to be. It was liberating, exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Part of me felt lost and embarrassed having to experience this at the age of 26, when all of my friends had figured it out years ago and were just now moving onto the marriage and children stage of life. It was as if I had lived my life backwards. I had never went through a party stage of life, because at 21 I was married and expected to act “Like a wife”. So my late twenties were spent blacking out, making mistakes, and eventually discovering who I was.
Unlike others, who experience divorce later in life and have people around them who can relate, I had no one my age to turn to for support or comfort as I navigated the world as a divorcée. It was a very lonely, discouraging time of life. Looking back on that horrible time is what inspired me to create a blog for others who are going through similar situations. You don’t have to feel alone or like a failure, just because your first marriage hasn’t worked out.
I speak from experience when I say that life goes on, even though it may feel impossible and hopeless at the moment, stay strong and know that you can make a life for yourself that is better than anything you could have imagined. I did this, I took a life that crashed down in my 20s and through many disappointments, challenges, and mistakes, I discovered true happiness in my 30s. It isn’t easy, nothing in life is, but take peace in knowing that all is not lost. Just because life hasn’t turned out the way you had planned, doesn’t mean that it can’t eventually become something beautiful.
Check out my other posts to find advice and comfort for whatever it is that you may be going through right now. You are stronger than you know and you are worthy of love, so hold on and know that you are not alone!