5 Lessons I Learned from my Divorce

“I got another woman pregnant.” Those were the words uttered by my then husband to me that fractured my seemingly perfect world on July 3, 2004.

Not long after he said those words I was looking for an apartment and filing my own divorce. To say I was devastated was an understatement. Every day for weeks, perhaps even months, I woke up wishing that the moment I had heard those words was just an extremely bad dream, that I could rewind the hands of time and that those words would not, in fact, be my new reality.

My reality was that I was a brand new mom, at the time my son was a mere 7 months old, still being breastfed. I had just started my law practice, which meant I had no money and my entire world revolved around my then husband. I had been living in the United States less than 3 years and I hadn’t yet gotten my permanent green card. I was still, according to the United States Government, “a temporary resident”, and my entire life was falling apart.

I think I cried every day for about 2 weeks straight. I remember crying in the ladies’ room of the Courthouse just minutes before I was scheduled to go on the record to make oral arguments on behalf of a client. To this day I still can’t believe the remarkable outcome I got in that particular case; it was nothing short of a miracle.

It’s been 14 years since those devastating words and in retrospect, I realize that I learned a hell of a lot about myself, relationships and marriage, in general, as I went through the absolute worst phase of my life.

1. Lessons in Finance

Try looking for an apartment in New York City without a few thousand dollars stashed away somewhere. I wasn’t making a lot of money, to begin with. I had recently started my practice on May 1st of that same year and I only had a handful of clients.

However, whatever I did earn, no matter how small, some of it could have been put away for a rainy day; but in my world, at the time there was simply no need to do that since I had a husband. It’s not that I wanted or expected him to take care of me, Lord knows that was not the case, it’s just that I felt comfortable. Nowhere in my head did I ever think of opening a savings account solely in my own name and putting away even a small percentage of any retainer I had earned.

I am almost embarrassed now thinking of how financially naive I was. My broken heart and wounded pride made me want to take my newborn and get the hell out of Dodge. I wanted to leave but I had no money to leave. Talk about being stuck!

2. Lessons in Victimhood

I quickly learned that I don’t do very well with sympathy. Word of my Ex-husband’s infidelity spread very quickly among people we knew, and after word got around, I would typically be greeted with one of either two looks – either one of sympathy or the ‘Thank God I am not in her position’ look. Oh, how I hated those looks. I was always a proud, confident woman, so having people feel sorry for me was the absolute worst. Those looks served as motivation though, for me to be strong, or at the very least, try.

I remember having dinner with a friend, less than a month after my Ex’s revelation, and she was amazed that I was doing so well. The reality was that I wasn’t doing well at all. I was dying inside! Really freaking dying inside, but every day that I made myself get out of bed and get dressed for work I thought about my baby boy Blake and how much he needed me. It sounds cliché, but I felt like I needed to be strong for him. He needed a strong mother, who was about to become a single parent, to raise him, guide him and teach him life lessons, and I would be damned if I was going to let him down.

So every morning I got up, got dressed, adjusted my crown, remembered who I am, put my high heels on, kissed my baby boy goodbye and stepped out into the world with my broken heart because I was determined to fake it until I could make it.

3. Lessons in Co-parenting

To this day I am very proud of the way I left my Ex. The day had finally come when I had enough money saved to make my exit. It was a regular Tuesday morning when he left for work and as soon as he was out the door I started packing. I had organized a group of friends to help me and I had all of my and Blake’s belongings out of his apartment before he came home from work that afternoon.

I would have paid good money to see his face when he opened the front door to his condo that evening only to find that we were gone. He blew up my phone for several days after that, and I refused to answer when finally he left a voicemail message threatening to call the police on me for kidnapping his son.

Oh really?! How about you bring the National Guard too while you’re at it!

I am not ashamed to say that I was not above being petty in refusing to tell him where we had gone and not allowing him access to Blake. Yeah, it was my way of trying to hurt him; but after 8 straight days of just me and Blake I answered one of his phone calls and agreed for him to come and pick up our son. The truth is I was tired and needed a break from the baby. However, It was at that moment that I realized that I couldn’t do it alone. The reality was that Blake also needed his father, as strong a woman as I am I had the wherewithal to realize that there were things that my ex-husband could teach Blake that I couldn’t. A woman can’t teach a boy how to be a man. He needed his father for that. I had to learn to co-parent with him despite how I felt about him. The truth is that even though my Ex had been a terrible husband he was a great father to our son. I couldn’t allow my desire to be petty to jeopardize his relationship with Blake. It wasn’t worth it; because in the long run, it would only end up hurting Blake too.

4. Lessons in Letting Stuff Go!

When your entire world comes crashing down around you it is extremely difficult to convince yourself that the best way to move on is to let go of the desire to punish the person who caused your pain. It’s human nature to want to hurt the person that hurt you, its human nature to want to see them suffer but the truth is that only cripples you; at least I know it crippled me. Trust me when I tell you that there is no moving forward when you hold on to the hurt.

I had to make a concerted effort to just let the shit go. It was much easier said than done though, but I had to make myself do it. I had to tell myself that I had a choice. I could choose to feel sorry for myself, talk about the heartbreak all day everyday to anyone who would listen and spend my time plotting and planning some kind of stupid revenge on my Ex, or, I could find something to do that would occupy my time and perhaps make me a tad less emotional over the entire ordeal, if that were possible. My saving grace was my budding law practice, I buried myself in my work and my cases. I also joined the gym and found a new love for a new dance exercise that was emerging at the time called Zumba.

5. Lessons in Forgiveness

It took months, maybe even a year, for me to be able to communicate with my Ex in a decent manner, you know the one where you actually talk in a civilized tone instead of saying everything with contempt and derision. The first year following our split was an extremely tough one in which I could never have seen myself forgiving his infidelity; but as time passed and I let go off of the hurt, I was able to move on and it became easier to move towards forgiveness.

It has now been 14 years since my Ex uttered those words to me, words that I thought were completely unforgiving; but life has a way of throwing things at us that we had no idea we were built for.

My Ex’s infidelity, despite being something I could forgive years later, will never ever be something I can forget. I will never forget the way I felt at that moment when I heard those words. I will never forget the time; the date; what he was wearing (a white T-shirt and plaid boxers); what I was wearing, where we were, and even what the room smelled like at that moment. I will never forget how his actions, changed the course of my life; but I have forgiven him and that ability to forgive has allowed me to let go, move on, and set me on the path to what, in retrospect, has allowed me to live my best life and allowed me to be the very best Racquel.

92 thoughts on “5 Lessons I Learned from my Divorce

  1. I love reading the experiences of strong women! The things we go through that really force us to grow are always hard but with God’s help we can really do anything and you are a testament to that.
    “there is no moving forward when you hold on to the hurt.” This reminds me of Colossians 3:12,13 which says, “Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, and patience. 13 Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Just as Jehovah freely forgave you, you must also do the same.” Romans 12:21 “Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.” You did not allow yourself to be conquered by evil and you deserve much praise for that. Your son must be proud to have such a strong mother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was indeed the toughest, most difficult time of my entire life. I hope I never go through anything like that ever again or anything even close. I don’t wish that on anyone. I am grateful every day for the strength bestowed on me to pull through that nightmare.

      Yes, my son adores me. He does adores his Dad and his Step-Dad too. He is lucky to have 3 adults in hid life that lovess him more than words can fully express.

      Thank you for taking the time to not only read my piece but to also comment. I appreciate your biblically inspired words.

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    1. Thank you so so much for your extremely kind words. It makes my heart sing to know that others can find inspiration from my writing and be helped through difficult times. You have no idea how much I appreciate this comment. Thank you so much for sharing it with your friend. Feel free to reblog this piece if you wish and only if it is in your pleasure.

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  2. I am going through something similar (without children involved) and understand the immense shock and hurt infidelity causes. You are a strong, amazing person to have come through what you have. I am in the early stages of things but it’s really encouraging to read about people that have come out the other side. Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Initially, it was very difficult to share. I felt the hurt, pain, and embarrassment all over again. It’s not an easy story to tell, which makes me appreciate the positive feedback. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What can I say without over sharing? Suffice to say, that after a terrible spat, hubby took kids out for the day and when he brought them home, practically tossed them out the car and slammed the door. I was watching from the window. My son came in, must have been about 3 or 4 and hissed at me, YOU CHASED MY FATHER AWAY. It revealed so much and I knew I would always be the Bad One in his eyes, I would be portrayed as the Bad Wife and other labels I no longer care about. I learned my lesson, bit my tongue, bided my time and allowed their Dad back. There have been good times and bad but I have not lost my children, especially my son to the negative elements. Married 27 years now, my son is 17.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow! Sunshinysa thank you for sharing that with me. A lot of people stay for the children and that’s a personal choice. I would have wanted my marriage to work for the sake of my new-born. I mean who doesn’t want the nuclear family, especially a brand-new, first-time mom but I would have spent a lifetime worrying about him and the other woman and their baby. I simply couldn’t do that to myself. I deserved so much more than that.

      Congratulations on your 27 years of marriage. I hope to make that milestone and more with my new husband. Things are never perfect in any union, Sunshinyasa, we just all know what we can live with and what we cannot. Thank you so much for reading my story and sharing yours. 🙂

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      1. I thought you displayed such courage no doubt through the adversity that followed. My friend Heather often tells me that God gives battles to his strongest soldiers. I remind myself of this often. Your experience has moulded you into being the strong woman, mother and wife that you are. May God shower you with his favour always. Your son will tell you one day how blessed he is to have you as his Mom. I stayed for me too y new friend. I stayed for fear of recriminations, being an Indian wife (yes, there is a lot of crap and harshness that comes with a mungal sutra). Indians are quick to say, What Will Everybody Say?! The support is nonexistent. For me, it came with previous emotional baggage, so I learned, earned and won small battles. I send a hug, s sisters need to bond and lift ourselves, we have much to be thankful (and proud of). I send a hug, Kavita in Sunshiny South Africa🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This was raw and so deeply moving. I salute you for your strength, grace and tenacity throughout . You are truly an inspiration! Thank you for sharing of yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Maru, for reading my story and for commending my “strength” and “grace”. It certainly was the most difficult period of my life and I would never have imagined myself graceful or strong while going through it but looking back I suppose I was. 😊

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  5. Thanks for sharing Racs. I’m grateful that you turned around to say definitively and from experience that yes, there is moving on; and a different path can lead to someone’s best life and a better version of oneself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are one incredible lady with a great positive attitude that must have helped you as well. I am really impressed how you over came diversity in life and turned it around to work for you. You have wrote a wonderful piece for all of us to focus on finding ways through a tragic life experience. Proud of you Rakkelle !!

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  7. Sis!! Oh My!! You said soooo many things in this post that I could resonate with. Loved your story of heartbreak, deception, and triumph. I know all so well about a person being your life and you have to move on, now wondering how you were going to live and what you were going to do. LOL, I wish I could’ve seen his face too – my mama always said, you never let your right hand know what your left hand is doing and honey, you played them cards like a true player. Forgiveness is hard, especially when someone hurt you really badly – it’s like a knife that consistently stays stuck in your back and yes, you want to see them hurt and as you stated; we do try to punish them…but from an experience I recently went through I had to realize, I’m not God and punishing would be like taking the authority out of God’s hands and placing it in my hands – Vengence is mine says the Lord in which are words you don’t want to come to your mind when you want to put that same knife that’s in your back, deeper in to someone else’s. I commend you for your strength and so happy your courage to share your story. Much Success to you and Blake. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you sooooo much, Roshonda!!! Thank you for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate you becoming a follower of my Blog. Something tells me you and I are going to become fast friends on here. Thanks again, Sis!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow!! This actually falls right into line with some of the things I’ve written as well!! I work in family law and I continue to be amazed with how some people handle divorce (some are great and some are terrible). I, myself, was in that “terrible” category during mine. I handled my so badly, it’s embarrassing to me now. I spend weeks…months…crying and seeking/hoping for revenge or karma or something. It’s now been 3 years for me. My ex husband and I are friends now. I’ve learned so much. I can’t imagine what you were feeling having a new baby and everything. Kudos to you for “faking it until you made it” … I wish I would have learned that sooner. But I know now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey JennyFromTheBlock (I love your handle, by the way) you don’t know ’til you know, right?!

      The forgiveness part is tough. It takes a helluva long time, for some longer than others. I, do, however, think that you need to forgive to properly move on. It’s great you were able to do that in only 3 years. Kudos to you too, Lady. Life isn’t easy but we always have to keep fighting the good fight. It’s also good you and the Ex are now friends.

      Thank you for not only reading, liking and commenting on my Blog but also becoming a follower too. Yaaay! I promise to write some more amazing pieces for you to enjoy.

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  9. Hi Racquel, just wanted to reach out and say how moved I was by your blog post. I always knew you were a strong person, but this just shows how strong. To live through that, as a newly single mother, getting a business off the ground? Amazing. Even now, it takes undeniable strength to bare your soul in the way that you have through your writings. I’m sure it must be cathartic for you. Bless up!! And by the way, you don’t need me to tell you how great your writing skills are. There’s definitely a book or two in you. Take care. Your “old” friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tanya, my “old” friend. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to hear from you. I’m ecstatic that you’re reading my writings. Thank you so much for keeping up with my life, aka my shenanigans. 😂 One day I’ll write about our College days, those were some of the best years of my life. So great to hear from you.

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    1. It’s was the most difficult period of my life. You know how hard divorces can be but there are lessons to be learned from it. There are always pertinent lessons to be learned from all of life’s difficulties…Thank you so much for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful and inspirimg read. Your selflessness in sharing your experience and the courage to have chosen forgiveness is admirable. Damn…you were strong!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Being able to let go of what others has done to you is taking back your power. Hate will consume and eat away at any light that you have within. I know this first hand. Love the post, can’t wait to read more.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. At some point I’ll need to share with you how my first marriage ended – similar, but with some distinct differences. Remembering how vulnerable *I* felt, I can’t imagine adding the stress of not being a citizen to the mix on top of it all. If I were closer, I’d give you a bear hug, then immediately follow it up with a fist bump.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. As someone who has been through the whole spouse green card before a permanent green card I understand the precariousness all too well! Apart from the infidelity and financial issues there was that ‘can I even stay in the country’ fear? ESPECIALLY since your baby was an American citizen and you could have been prevented from taking him if you left! What a nightmare. I’m glad you’re through it. Did you become a Citizen?

    Liked by 2 people

  14. There you go again…as I read the previous comments all I could do was nod in agreement. Girl you kept it real but so engaging that I was ready to read on….what you revealed is powerful in the darkest moments we find our strength…our power…to be more than we imagined. You put that crown on and really demonstrated the woman you are! I hope other women who may face these situations see the lesson…to face the music but do that dance that gives you back your life….a better life. RakkelleWrites is a growing blog that truly is Empowering!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Wonderful article Racquel! There are just great tidbits to be applied when dealing with relationships that have gone sour. I especially loved the fact that you realized that forgiveness was needed for you to truly move forward. So many hold on to the hurt and that causes them not to be able to forgive. One cannot truly live in bitterness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed, Darcia; in order to properly move on, we have to forgive. As you rightly stated, “One cannot truly live in bitterness.” Thank you for taking the time to read.

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    1. 😁 I was taught by my Blog Writing Instructor that brevity is best so I try not to make my Blog posts too long. Glad you wanted more, that motivates me to keep writing every week. Thanks, Cerise!

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  16. ‘So every morning I got up, got dressed, adjusted my crown, remembered who I am, put my high heels on, kissed my baby boy goodbye and stepped out into the world . . .’

    Hey Racquel! You are such a brave person not just for what you have been through but also for writing about it. You own this crown, girl ❤ ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Racs you never, ever fail to amaze and inspire me. It is so generous of you to share your experience… you probably can’t imagine just how much it will help others.

    Liked by 3 people

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