After my separation I literally fell off the map...for years!
I hardly kept up with any of my old friends, and even when I did, the contact or the communication was very brief and usually inconsistent. Thinking back on it, I felt a lot of shame and anger and grief about my marriage ending and how my friends would take me and what they would think! (Honestly: I was also flat out overwhelmed with just basic day to day things like raising kids and working full-time.)
And so, apparently, my way of working through all those feelings (while keeping a job and raising good kids) was to become a bit of a hermit, and re-discover myself in solitude.
As in, what was it like to be me, with as little outside influence as possible.
I had to really get confident and straight about what was working and what needed to be let go of. I needed to break it all down, way back to the very beginning, and just find myself again. Or actually, find myself completely for the first time ever.
Up until my separation, I had been living my life based on mainly external views of success and external pressures as to what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. Generally, what I felt was the right thing to do. Even if it didn't sit completely well in my gut. So the solitude allowed me to really analyze what felt good to me, and what I wanted to do and whom I should spend time with. What felt aligned with my own passions and values. What did I value for that matter? What was important for me and my kids? What did I love to do, for no other reason than to do it? Those questions were pretty soul searching for me, which I guess is why this process took me years, and I’ll certainly continue to check in with myself for a lifetime :)
Now that I've got a better handle on myself overall, I feel fresher than I have in years, and I’ve been enjoying being around people a lot more than I ever have in my life!
An old girlfriend from university was in town the other day and we got together over lunch and it was fabulous to catch up and hear all of her updates in more detail than just the random facebook posts.
However, when she first contacted me, I realized I had unresolved feelings, since she’s married to one of my ex’s good friends. We’ve all known each other for decades, but I’d given her ‘a side’ - which I quickly realized in horror! ..since I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t limit people and their relations like that, after a break-up.
Once I became aware of what I was doing though, I sat with it all for a while. And then realized that I should just follow my heart and connect with whoever I want. Genuine caring and consideration and relationships shouldn’t be restricted to boundaries after a separation or divorce. For heaven sake, after my separation, I’d never think of imposing boundaries/restrictions on who my children are free to love and continue relationships with.
So, if I would never impose that sort of thinking on my kids - why would I do that to myself?
Because in the end, aren't life’s best moments, moments of human connection? So, why limit that? I’m certainly trying not to anymore – no one’s perfect though - and where I discover I inadvertently have, I’m now walking through those self-imposed barriers into more connection!
What is your experience with old friendships after separation/divorce? I'd love to hear from you! And if you found this post helpful please share it!
All my best,
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