5 years ago, I had what I thought I wanted. Diamond rings, a big house, multiple country club memberships, and a document on my computer called ‘address labels’ that contained 200+ names and addresses of my ‘friends.’ Every December I would spend hours stuffing Christmas cards into envelopes to make sure that my ‘friends’ could see the perfect photo representing my perfect life.
I got divorced 4 years ago. Very soon thereafter the house, the rings, the country club memberships and even the ‘address labels’ document vanished. My social calendar, once filled with invitations, was suddenly empty.
As my life unraveled, I felt betrayed and abandoned by the people who suddenly didn’t call me anymore. At the same time, however, I felt liberated. I had hated much of the life that I had created when I was married. I had nothing in common with the women at The Union League. I had never wanted to attend benefit luncheons at the Radnor Hunt Club. And the idea of schmoozing my way up a tennis ladder at Aronimink had made me want to scream. Brick by brick, I had slowly constructed a life that had made me feel trapped. Divorce was the giant wrecking ball to this building.
Divorce was a complete overhaul to my life. My social calendar virtually zero’d out, I removed my diamond rings, and I moved out of my big house into a small house. In the span of a few months, my life was virtually unrecognizable to me. And that’s when it hit me:
‘I have nothing left to lose.’
This realization, albeit frightening at times, empowered me. I don’t need to play by someone else’s rules because I no longer subscribe to the idea that I need to have the façade of a ‘perfect life.’ In fact, I haven’t sent out a Christmas card in years. I no longer pretend to be someone that I’m not, and I’m a far happier person. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s honest and I can stand behind all of my decisions. Over the last four years, I’ve started filling back up my social calendar with people and activities that I truly enjoy. These days I’m more likely to be found at a yoga studio, cycling class or at a race.
I would not have let my parents buy me a Vera Wang wedding gown if I had known that I would be getting divorced. I did not plan for this event in my life. That being said, sometimes the detours that our lives take us on end up being our best teachers.
Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D.
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