I have a handful of friends going through challenging divorces; several more have put at least one behind them. Emancipated myself for over nine years now, there are days when being independent and responsible exhausts me, and I want to curl up into a ball on the couch and have someone make me hot soup and clean up the kitchen afterward. And then go mow the lawn.
But mostly, I have come to cherish my freedom, my re-discovered ability to handle life on my own, and controlling my own schedule and my own space. That feeling of empowerment is exhilarating, and hard-won.
I am so, so lucky. I have a solid, stable job that pays me well, if not extravagantly; wonderful friends who love me, as I do them; a comfortable house I adore and a yard, currently under slow and gradual renovation, that I’m coming to treasure just as much. I’m healthy, and I live in a beautiful region. I have retirement savings (at least until the government collapses). My divorce was amicable, and my ex and I are still in touch occasionally. My problems are first-world problems, although I tend to forget that when I’m yawning at my desk in the middle of the day or picking myself up off the sidewalk when my bad ankle gives out or watching my father lie in a hospital bed. After all, we both have insurance.
I am rarely lonely – the benefit of being an only child who, at mid-life, has lost friends and lovers, jobs and illusions, and gained perspective and wisdom. My life isn’t perfect, and neither am I, but at long last, I accept the former and forgive myself more often than not for the latter.
The biggest difference, though, from my days as a new divorcee is that fear is not my dogged companion. These days, I don’t worry about professional enrichment; it will come. I’m not concerned about unearthing love; I’ll find it when the time is right. Barring disaster, the money will last and the house won’t flood. Yes, there are slings and arrows sure to come my way, but now I know that there’s always a way through. That’s not security that’s found anywhere but deep inside. Sometimes, you just have to clear everything else out to be able to find it.