Two weeks ago was the first anniversary of my Jewish divorce. My first thought when I realized the impending date was “great I’ll have a blog to post”. You know, capitalizing on the purity and sanctity of life events as a new blogger does. I really wasn’t too sure what I was going to say and so I sat down and opened my computer and sat. and sat. and sat. and sat. The blank page staring at me, almost taunting me. This is a big deal, surely I should have lots to say about it-especially someone as verbose as myself.
This completes a full year of divorce. A full year of firsts being on my own. First set of holidays, first set of kids’ birthdays, first wedding anniversary, first time changing my own windshield wipers. All very big firsts.
There is pride that I have accomplished so much in a short year; I’m back at school, my kids are doing reasonably well so long as they’re sleeping and I am on my way to becoming an international internet success and not just because there is a porn star with my exact name. Yes yes, go google it now. There’s freedom in having taken back the reigns of my life after relinquishing them for so long. There’s extreme gratitude that I get a second chance at life and that I’m young and determined enough to grab it by the horns.
I’m not done with feeling sad, nowhere close to being done with feeling lonely. I’m not done with hurt or pain or the constant worry of my children and all the choices I’ve made on their behalf. There is however one thing I am done with for good, my ex aside of course. I am done with the guilt that comes along with divorce. That constant inner battle between I should have tried harder and what else could I have done. That voice that says I should have stayed for the kids but then says my kids deserve so much more than this. I’m done blaming myself for things not ending earlier, for being a bystander in my own life. This milestone isn’t about freedom from my marriage-this is about freedom from the darkest parts of myself. The parts of myself that can’t move forward, the parts of myself that never give me a chance and mostly the parts of myself that constantly blame and fault me. The weight of guilt that holds you down and prevents you from moving forward; It’s like having your feet stuck in molasses or more realistically, my feet stuck in the foam pit at an indoor trampoline park (true story.)
This time last year I said good bye to my marriage, to me as a wife. This past year has been me mourning that loss. But now one year ahead, I say goodbye to my guilt. I empathize with myself in the way I have done for others, I show kindness to myself as I do to strangers. Divorce is not just about forgiving our ex spouses, it’s forgiving ourselves. It’s the hardest thing to do by far, because our thoughts keep us captive long after our divorces have set us free. But if we truly want to move forward, truly want to start anew, we must accept our own apologies. We decide if we forgive ourselves and move forward or if we stay in the proverbial foam pit of our own guilt. It is entirely up to us, entirely our choice, entirely in our hands which makes it all the more difficult. Because at the end of the day, in not forgiving ourselves we only end up hurting ourselves long after others have stopped.