Finding Yourself Before Love After Divorce

Today, I’m wrapping up my series about Lora and for me, this is the most powerful part of her story.

Lora’s been divorced for nine years now and during that time she has dated. Her youngest is now 15 and is just now beginning to be OK with the idea of her mother dating. So up until now Lora’s arranged her dating around her parenting time – I haven’t dated since my divorce and managing it around my kids is one of my mental obstacles but that’s besides the point.

What Lora had to share about dating was that when she left her marriage, she was looking for someone to be the ideal partner and that was her focus. While she hasn’t found her ideal yet, she has discovered herself, bringing her an inner happiness that will sustain her with or without Mr. Ideal. Here’s how she tells it.

***

I thought I would be dating all the time and that didn’t happen. That gave me the opportunity to realize that I am the source of my own joy. Not in the sense of coming from my head, what I think,  but more in sense of coming from the heart.

I want a good relationship but it’s not something I’m needing or desperately seeking, like I was in the beginning.

I think a lot of people jump into a relationship and they have all the lust and initial attraction. When that goes away, they realize they’re in their old marriage again because they haven’t done the changing.

I feel fortunate that nothing has worked out. I found out the man I was with right after my marriage is a terrible alcoholic. I would have gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. I had no idea! He hid it, he never drank around me.

Dancing again after divorceI was heartbroken when I met him and he was what I needed then. Now I have more trust that the more I do that I love, the more I write, the more I dance, that I will meet the right person. Before I was like, “I don’t care about the dance, I really want a love.” Now that I’m really starting to appreciate the dance, I feel that the love will come in a bigger way than if it was my focus.

I was a dancer in my 20′s but I stopped in my thirties. I didn’t do much even when I got divorced because I was teaching full-time. When I was about 43 I began training again and my body started responding, remembering everything. Ten years ago, I never thought I’d be dancing with 40 Women Over 40 or the companies I’m dancing with now. All of that just blossomed. I had a gift but if I were too focused on the joy coming from a relationship I would have missed out on all this other stuff going on in my life.

I had a relationship that just ended. It wasn’t really a relationship – he was too young. He was 14 years younger. We met at a party, he didn’t notice my age and I didn’t notice his age. We both thought we were much closer in age to each other, maybe five years apart.

He was pretty much everything I ever imagined I would want. Mind, body and soul, I never thought I would encounter someone like that, not in my wildest dreams. But he wanted a family and I already have two children. I was OK with that because really, it’s not like there’s just one person out there for me.

That’s another way my thinking has changed. I used to be a huge romantic, thinking there’s ONE soul mate out there for you. Now I think we encounter wherever we ourselves are at.

Now I’ve experienced that type of love, I realize it’s actually out there. But I could not have encountered that had I not come to this place of discovering myself.

***

As I haven’t dated since my divorce, I can’t relate my experience to Lora’s. However, what Lora says is consistent with what a number of other people have told me. To mention a few, when Anka spent some time in therapy after her divorce she realized she was always picking the wrong man, because of she wasn’t listening to her own needs.

When T talks says divorce isn’t a failure, she’s agreeing with Lora that the type of relationship we get is a reflection of just where we are in our own development.

I also liked Jacque’s comment on Lora’s search for authenticity – growing up we develop these ideas of what life is supposed to be like and we follow those ideas. We don’t do the work of finding out what the life is we truly want until we’ve hit a crisis. I’m tucking this one away because I know I’m going to be able to use it with two teenagers.

It’s also a similar message to Karen Salmansohn’s in her book, Prince Harming Syndrome.

A question I have though is if this self-learning is possible within a relationship? Are the couples that stay together the ones that have figured out how to grow together?

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  • http://www.workeasy4lifebalance.com Jacque Small

    There is a new book out called the Compatibility Code, an Intelligent Woman's Guide to Dating and Marriage. It is about deciding what we want in our partner, prior to falling in love with someone. My saying for many years has been that there are many people that we can love and just a few that can live with. Now Elizabeth George and her partner have written an book about it.
    http://www.yourprefix.com/the-compatibility-code

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/SinceMyDivorce SinceMyDivorce

      Funny you should mention this book – someone else recommended it to me. Sounds like an interesting book.

  • http://tbdetermined.wordpress.com jolene

    Just dropping in to say that this is a wonderful series!

  • http://iamagrownup.wordpress.com KTP

    I'm struggling with this right now. I want time for myself before I let love back into my life. I lost myself and just like Lauren says, I became a different person in order to make him happy and keep the marriage together. I've been apart from my husband for a year, yet the divorce is not yet final. I am loving the time to myself and doing things that I love. However, I've met a man that I really like. I keep thinking it's happened too soon. But I can't bring myself to kick him out of my life because we just click. He's fun. We have so much in common. It's a little casual. We see each other just a couple times a month. We chat pretty regularly. We haven't met each other's children or families and don't intend to anytime soon. I don't know if it's love or he is "the one." I do know that I like him a lot and I'm enjoying the time with him. I just worry that I've not given myself enough time to find me before this happens. I hope that I can still find me in the time I do have to myself.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/SinceMyDivorce SinceMyDivorce

      Hi iamagrownup – I can totally understand why you might be feeling it's too soon to be in a relationship but my two cents would be to let it happen! I think it is important to discover yourself again but nobody said you had to do that alone. If you let him, he may help you. My next series is about the Divorce Encouragist and that's what happened to her. Stay tuned ….