Today I’m happy to bring you a guest post from Jolene, author of Determined To Be. I’ve been following Jolene for about three years (years?? already???)… through her singledom, job change, dating adventures, etc… Jolene is a shining example of how a divorcee can be a victor instead of victim of one’s circumstances. I’m proud to know her and I’m delighted to share her inspirational (yet totally *real*) story here (and for the record, all images are her choosing)… enjoy!
When Tara asked me to write a post about my journey, and my evolution, from divorce to today, happy and in love with the man I was truly meant to be with forever, I was honestly not sure what to write (even though I’ve written my blog, chronicling this very journey for the past three-ish years!). Because my life? It’s nothing like my life then. And my journey? Is nothing like my journey then. And for some reason, I was struggling with how I wanted to capture my journey for the readers of Relative Evolutions.
But as I was telling M (M is the love of my life and soon-to-be husband (!), who I met 2+ years ago) about this guest post, it sort of came to me. My life then? I honestly cannot remember it. I can’t remember me. I can’t remember being in love with my ex-husband. I can’t remember anything but the here and now.
And I truly think that is a sign that my life now has completely infiltrated my being. Everything in my life is purpose-built. It’s what I created for myself, and that? Is incredibly uplifting and empowering.
Now let’s back up.
My ex-husband I separated (read the abbreviated story of the end of my marriage here). And I was lost. I didn’t know who I was, or what I wanted in my life. I had never been alone as an adult. My ex and I were together since I was 20, and he was 19 – hardly ‘adults’ in my book. I’d never dated and he was only one of two men I ever fell in love with. So, picture me, at 29, feeling about as mature as a 20 year old, in many ways, not realizing at the time how stunted I’d let myself get, no growth in ME, no growth in our LOVE over the past 10 years, no growth in…life generally.
I was afraid to sleep alone. I was afraid to live alone. I was afraid to BE alone. And this was ingrained in me far before I got married. As one of three (I’m a triplet), my sisters and I did everything together. Two of us even went to the same college and had jobs at the same company for 8 years. I did NOTHING alone. Pretty much literally.
So, sitting on my living room floor, crying to my sister Jen, on the phone, I so vividly remember, and trying to grasp the gravity of where my life felt headed, was…insurmountable. And as I gathered an overnight bag on the first night of being alone, to stay with my other sister Jess, walked through her door, and crumpled into her arms, I didn’t think I’d ever get past it. I didn’t ever imagine that on the cusp of 30, I’d be heading towards divorce. But I was, and I had to find a way to get through it.
I started my first blog – To Be Determined – to chronicle my journey through divorce. This was a turning point time for me, as I felt like I was finally getting through the fog I walked through, those first few months, those first holidays alone, which were painful and sad, even though I put on a brave face. My ex and I had gotten to a point where we were friends. We were past the hurt, and were just trying to get the divorce finalized and our house sold (short sale, very unfortunately). And then I ventured into dating. Dating for the first time in my life at 29 was probably one of the biggest catalysts for change and growth in me. I had never dated. Obviously. And I had no idea where to start. I ventured into online dating (match.com), and with each and every one-date-wonder, two-date fizzler and a couple of almost-not-quites, I learned something. About myself. About my dealmakers. And my dealbreakers. I honed from that the image of what I wanted my future to look like, including the man in my life. I never wanted to BE their life. And conversely, I didn’t want THEM to be MY life, either. I treasured my me time (for the first time ever), I treasured my friends and family and the ability to do as I pleased. And I didn’t want that to change drastically when I fell in love.
Dating also got me out of my comfort zone and made me realize that the only way I was going to grow, learn and change was to be OUT of my comfort zone as much as possible. And I think that’s truly where my drive for challenge, goals, and perseverance really set in. Instead of balking at challenges, I began to embrace them.
Speaking of comfort zones, I’d been in my job for more than eight years. Hello comfort! But also? Stagnation. Boredom. In came an opportunity for a new beginning…3,000 miles away, however. A job that would require cross-country travel to my job about once a month (to start). But rather than walk away from it because it scared me (as I most certainly would have when I was married), I faced it head on. I stepped on that plane for my job interview in late-fall 2010 and never looked back. That is, again, one of the biggest changes for me since my divorce. I never would have even considered a job that would take me so far from home and for a week at a time, traveling alone, sleeping alone, eating alone, you name it – alone, alone, alone. But instead? I embraced it. Fully. And to this day, I am still at this very job, and I love it.
At around the same time, as I made another effort at match.com, just one more time, I met M. September 9, 2010. He embodied everything I had ever hoped for in a man and partner in life. It almost felt too good to be true. He was driven, intelligent, funny as hell, and incredibly good-looking. He was also divorced. And we were born three days apart. That date was the first date in the next two years of our lives.
M and I have been living together for about a year and a half and as of October 19, 2012, we are engaged (!). M asked me to marry him and I couldn’t be happier, prouder or filled with more gratitude about where our lives have taken us, and how strong we are together, yet also strong apart, as individuals. Sharing our lives, but having our own lives too.
I’ve also continued to find my passion in life, in fitness. I’ve always felt drawn towards becoming a fitness instructor and as yet another thing that I never would have done when I was married (far too shy and unconfident for that!), I embarked on my own fitness journey. In running. (running two half marathons but also just running ‘happy’ as I like to call it). In working towards my goal as a fitness instructor. I work at a local barre studio almost daily (part-time) and it is the most rewarding, most fun and most challenging experience of my life. I look around at my life and can’t believe how far I have come. I can’t believe who I used to be, I don’t recognize ‘her’ at all. I can’t fathom my marriage then. And can’t fathom it now. What I can fathom is this: marrying M, and spending the rest of our lives together, the man I was truly meant to marry.
Wasn’t that a wonderful story? And it’s true! You can follow Jolene’s continuing story at her current blog, Determined To Be or follow her on twitter @jobo_determined. If you want to hit her up on email, her address is firstname.lastname@example.org.Google+