When Kate pitched the topic of ‘Love Your Status’ for February, I wasn’t sure what to think. My status isn’t something I normally dwell on, aside from checking that pesky box on doctor’s office forms: divorced.
Near the end of my thirties, with a small child in our midst, my husband and I found ourselves at the end of our marriage. So final, so devastating, so not what we’d hoped. Yet, here I was, a working professional, a mom, a friend, a daughter – going through the toughest experience of my life. I did what I do best, throwing myself into work + motherhood with great abandon. Convincing everyone around me (including myself) that I was FINE. Underneath all that ‘fineness’ was a growing layer of anxiety, major insomnia, and big-time self-doubt.
Slowly, oh-so-slowly, with distance and time I began to truly process the divorce and unravel the life I had built for myself. Through lots of self-reflection and therapy, I began to process my role in the downfall of the marriage and what led me to become someone I barely recognized along the way. I began dating myself and learning about what I like to do, spending time on activities and events that fill my bucket.
This is what I learned about MY happiness that I’ll carry forward always. No matter my status:
It’s important to have hobbies outside of your relationship. I had all but given up hobbies around the time of our separation. We had a toddler at home, I was working full-time at an all-consuming job and honestly, I was too exhausted to even think of adding anything else to my routine. After we separated, I made creative time a priority in my life to help me reconnect to my center. I’m a happier and better person for it, which only benefits others in my life.
My brain needs movement to be still. During our separation, I found it hard to carve out time in my daily schedule to fit in a workout. I started slowly, going to yoga and running during the times my daughter was with her dad. Quickly I learned my brain just works better with time to move daily. Today that’s a kitchen dance party or a long walk around the lake mixed with quiet yoga for flexibility and reflection. Too long without it and I start to nit-pick the things (and people) around me. My inner perfectionist tends to be calmer when she’s spent some time getting her wiggles out.
The power of friendship. For a long time, I kept to myself post-divorce. I had (and still have) the most supportive group of girl + guy friends, BUT I had so much to process, I wasn’t ready to share. Eventually, I started sharing my story, my feelings, my journey – allowing myself to be vulnerable and ask for help where I need it. My friends have continually shown up in ways I never would have imagined. Now, 2 years post-divorce, I feel so lucky to have a second family to lean on when my daughter and I need some help.
Being a grown-up is tough. But it’s so much better than acting like a child. During our separation and post-divorce, my interactions with my ex-husband were child-like and awful at best. Now, I’m proud to say, we are good co-parents and communicators over the shared goal of raising our daughter. We’ve both learned to put her needs first in our relationship, which grounds any interaction we have in compassion and family.
Happiness is an inside job. When I’ve gone through anything tough in my life (divorce, work stress, friend fall-out) it’s far too easy to place the blame on those around me and their faults. This experience forced me to do some deep processing, realizing that my happiness or lack of rests solely on me. If I’m not committed to keeping myself healthy + happy, why would anyone else be responsible for that?
I went into the divorce process shattered, angry and heartbroken. I came out the other side whole-hearted, confident and feeling like more of my true self. Divorce may be my status, but it sure doesn’t define me.
Jill Elliott is an artist, wallpaper designer and writer constantly seeking inspiration and balance. You can find Jill’s wallpaper and original art at Color Kind Studio. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her daughter and puppy.
BY Jill Elliott - March 30, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.