Moving on while Staying Behind: When the Ex Re-Marries First

“Daniella, are you ok?”

“I just heard…how are you?”

“Your time will come, don’t worry”

This, amongst others, were snippets of texts I received the night my ex got engaged. People messaging out of concern for how I would take the news and people messaging for gossip disguised as concern. I’ll admit, it would have been better for my ego to find out while I was out with a gorgeous man instead of at home in my onesie binge watching My 600 lb Life with chips in my lap but alas, c’est la vie.

And then there were the people who said “What do you care? Just let him be happy” and truthfully, I found these comments to be most hurtful and frankly, ignorant. Just because my ex husband’s engagement brings up emotions in me, some more tearful than others, does not for one second imply I want to be in that relationship or that I wish him ill will in his future. In fact, I am just going to put it out there that I wish the father of my children and his truly wonderful and beautiful partner a life filled with happiness and love. It serves me no good for them to be unhappy and have it affect my children’s happiness and stability as well. It is without question the best thing for children to be surrounded by love and happiness, in whoever’s home it may be that weekend.

Still, this new chapter in divorce brings a whole new bevy of emotions. My children will now have a stepmother, my kids will build a whole world of memories and experiences that I will have nothing to do with, my ex is no longer just my ex, he’s someone’s husband. And if I’m being truly honest, it leaves me with the feeling of being left behind in a race I never intended to enter and didn’t even know I was running. But somehow, I am behind and sitting alone wondering if it will forever be this way. People think divorce is like an onion, you cut it in half and shed some tears and it’s done. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Like onions – and ogres – divorce unfolds in layers.  And just as you’re getting comfortable in the new layer, another sheds off challenging your emotional well being and the progress you’ve achieved so far.

Watching someone move on without you is hard. It’s not that you want the person back and it’s not that you don’t want them to be happy, it’s not even about wanting a relationship of your own. It’s the murky water in between, you see the waves rolling forward into a beautiful horizon but your feet are stuck in the sand with seaweed wrapped around your ankles. You want to be swimming forward but it’s not your time, not your turn. So all you can do is watch – watch the water course over you, watch your ex start anew, watch as life continues on without you. You become a bystander, an off duty lifeguard with no whistle or life preserver; screaming out to life to take you forward, not to leave you behind washed up on the shore. But waves roll on and life moves forward all without you.

But the thing about the water is that the tide always comes back in. There’s always another chance to catch another wave when you’re ready for it, when life is ready for you. Standing at the shore, you can either be left behind or at the beginning of your own journey. The choice is entirely ours.

The choice to sit on my couch and binge Shameless; the choice to feel meh and embrace that meh feeling; the choice to know when it’s time to dust off the sand, get back up and catch the next wave that rolls my way. There is so much I cannot control in life, so much that is out of my hands, but my choices are mine. Embracing my sadness is a choice, acknowledging loneliness is a choice but ultimately, choosing happiness is my choice too. And while I may not choose it today or even tomorrow, I can choose it when I’m ready.

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart


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