Over the last few years, I’ve come to firmly believe that mistakes are only failures if I don’t learn from them. Yes, I make mistakes, of course, and I suffer the consequences sometimes. But if I also take away a solid lesson – even if it’s as mundane as “Don’t leave a cast iron skillet unattended on an induction stovetop” or “Plug in the car every night” – I don’t consider the experience a failure.
In the past, I thought of a divorce as a “failed marriage.” Now that my marriage has become a statistic, I’m realizing that my no-failure-if-I-learned philosophy applies here, too.
Yes, my marriage has ended. But I would never consider it a failure, or even a mistake.
Ian and I had so many good years and experiences together; we grew up together; we navigated so many adult milestones together; I grew so much as a person during our time together, that I would absolutely do it again if I had the opportunity. Our marriage shaped who I am today, and fundamentally I like who that is. For that, I’m thankful to Ian for the 18 years we were married and for the experiences we had together.
That’s not to say I feel like I’m done growing. Indeed, the last six months have given me more growth opportunities than I’ve had in many years. You could also read that as, “The last six month have featured the greatest amount of pain than I’ve had in many years,” and you wouldn’t be wrong. I think growth and pain are inextricably linked.
Working through the last six months – a series of experiences I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy – I can feel how much I’ve grown and changed already. I’m a better mom, I’m way more flexible in my thinking, I’m making healthier and less obsessive choices about my exercise (eating is still difficult; baby steps), and through it all, I’ve come to focus on building a foundation of who I am alone that can stand through this storm.
I never had to know who Katie-as-a-single-person is. Now I need to know, and I’m making very deliberate decisions to try to become a certain kind of person. I want to be resilient, flexible, thoughtful, and kind in even the most trying situations. I want to put my hope not in any human being – not even myself – but in Christ, the only strong tower that can withstand life’s storms.
To that end, I’ve created the following affirmations:
- God made me and loves me exactly as I am.
- I am loved and lovable.
- I can make permanent change.
- I overcome obstacles.
- I am intelligent, talented, confident, brave, and beautiful.
- I am successful as a mom, friend, employee, and human being.
- Nothing is forever.
- Tomorrow will be better.
I tell myself these things at least once a day, usually more. I write them down every night. Some are true or partly true now, and all are things I want to be true in the future.
So, no. My marriage has ended, but it hasn’t failed. This ending has opened up new opportunities and a new future. Let it come.