One of my all time favorite poems is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." I remember telling someone a while back that I'd wished I could have lived a simultaneous life. That of the mother I am and of a single person able to travel and explore new adventures. The separation process has given me an unexpected "gift." Which is how I am choosing to "embrace" my new, unplanned role as a single woman in her 40s.
While I am sad that my marriage failed and that I must share my children with their father, I am grateful for the time I've had alone pushing myself out of my comfort zone exploring new things and challenging myself physically, mentally and spiritually.
I've read two great books that both speak to The "Phoenix Process", Elizabeth Lesser's "Broken Open" and "Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce" by Abigail Trafford. Take my advice, read "Crazy Time" before you start dating. It might spare you a bit of heartbreak. (More about that in another article.) The Phoenix Process is essentially the process of shedding who you once were and reemerging as a better version.
Rules of the Phoenix Process
1. Change is the nature of life, and nothing changes without loss, which is a form of death.
2. When we turn toward what is changing—when we keep our hearts open and allow ourselves to feel a loss all the way through—we move with more grace into a new, energetic and constructive phase of life.
3. We can transform loss into growth, change into insight and suffering into joy if we turn and face that which frightens us most about ourselves and our changing circumstances.
Adapted from Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser.
In the 20 months since I've separated, I have done 400+ yoga classes, studied Kabbalah, done the Landmark Education Curriculum, rock climbed (I hate heights), joined a single parent meet up, started a second business, lost 10 pounds, hiked areas I've never explored, took up paddle boarding, had LOTS of coffee dates, learned about vulnerability and ego, pretty much gave up television and learned to be okay with being "in it."
Even though I've cried more in the past 20 months than I think I've cried in my entire life, I've also had unbelievable moments of connection with people I would never have met. I hardly recognize the person I've become and if I'm being honest, that might be okay.