You know how your parents do something during your childhood that grates on your nerves, and you tell yourself, “When I’m a parent I’m not going to do that?” And you make every effort to do the opposite? For me, it was weekly grocery shopping. My parents were born procrastinators. They’d literally go grocery shopping every night around 9:00 for dinner, and we’d eat at 11. It was a horrible way to live and I’d be a zombie during the school day as a result. As a parent now, Saturday afternoons are set aside for weekly adventures at the grocery store. Okay, so my kids may not agree with the adventure part, but they don’t know how lucky they are to have food at their fingertips all week long and a reasonable dinner hour.
This same notion of “When I’m a parent…” came into play during my divorce, as well. Except it went more like this: “When he’s out of my life, we’re going to Disney World come hell or high water.” You see, my friend has been a Disney Vacation Club member for years. For the past ten, she’d come to me and say, “Want to go to Disney World? You can stay in our villa with us for free.” Sweet, right? We’d just have to pay airfare (or drive), tickets, and food. Any family would jump at the chance. Every family but ours.
See, my ex is self-centered. At times, I wondered if he considered me and the kids roommates. Any tax refund or extra bit of money we’d miraculously manage to save would burn a hole in his pocket so fast, it singed his leg hairs. Video game systems, motorcycles (yes, the “s” is intended), new cars, you name it. If it was a toy for him, he wanted it, giving me a guilt trip if I tried putting my foot down. Disney World seemed a distant dream, an unattainable goal I’d never achieve. Every year I’d have to tell my friend once again, “We just don’t have the money.”
So when we separated our bills three years ago, and he moved out, I felt financial freedom for the first time in twelve years. I could actually spend my money how I saw fit. Mind you, divorce isn’t hearts and flowers. It’s ugly and brutal. It brings out emotions I never even knew I had. Especially, when adultery is involved. At times, my stomach was so cramped and twisted I thought I was going to keel over and die. But to keep from going into full-on depression, I learned you need to focus on the small things that make you happy. Give yourself little treats for making it through another day. For example, on my grocery trips, I’d buy one small item for myself each time. A new tube of mascara. A can of soda. Chapstick. Symbols of me flouting my financial freedom.
But there was still that glowing star in the distance, one had I vowed to pull down for me and my kids. And I did. Tomorrow, for the first time ever, I’m going on a vacation to Disney World.
And boy does it feel good.
This trip means so much more to me than a week off of work, or not having to cook, or going on cool rides. It’s me succeeding. Making it to the other side of divorce past tears cried, pillows punched, lawyers and hurtful phone calls. And let me tell you, the other side is wonderful!
If you’re going through divorce right now and feel like your life is ending, you’re wrong. It’s just beginning. I know you may not believe it right now, but take heart. Try making small goals for yourself. Achieve them. And always keep your eyes on the horizon. It will happen for you, too. I promise.