I didn’t know when I was divorcing that I’d eventually come out the other side happier.
I didn’t know that I’d come to love and appreciate and respect my co-parent again, in a fresh and true and far more sustainable way.
I didn’t know that my son would would thrive.
I didn’t know how incredibly resourced, powerful, and courageous I was.
I didn’t know if I’d ever sleep through the night again.
I didn’t know that I’d fall in love again.
I didn’t know if my hair would grow back, or if my body would stop hurting.
I couldn’t imagine laughing, playing, trusting again.
So I set out on what I now call a “Joy of Ex” quest: to find proof that such possibilities existed in the world. To convince myself that there was life and joy and family and hope and healing and relationship and sleep and rejuvenation on the other side of divorce. That there were people living in such bounty right now.
I sought out people who appeared to have made it to the other side. I asked them questions. I studied their lives. I got to know their kids.
What I came to understand is this: When people take responsibility for their happiness, incredible possibilities open up for everyone in the family. As they develop new faith in themselves and new trust in their capacity, the whole family comes into balance. Their children move between two happy (or at least functional) homes. And through their fierce commitment to do right by their children, they repair their relationship with each each other. For those who choose to be in relationship again, this reinvention of family is the taproot of new love.
Not everyone makes these choices.
But this point of view and way of life is available to all of us.
As I understand it now, the Joy of Ex is about letting go of what is leaving, accepting what is entering, embracing the love of our children as the centrifugal force of our lives, taking a clear stand for our blending family, weeding out the stories that keep us tangled together, and letting joy fill in those cleared spaces.
What is the Joy of Ex like in your life? And if you’re not there yet, what do you intend for it to be?