I was always one of those women who would say things to my single mum friends like, “Oh, I could never do what you do!”
I was never being condescending, I really meant it. I was in awe of all they managed to do on their own.
I was a happily married woman and the idea of being alone was not something I liked the idea of at all.
The night I met my husband (in a pub as we did in the days before Tinder) I came home to my flatmate and declared I had met the man I was going to marry. He was tall, hilarious, charming and very clever. He had that rakish, Mad Men vibe about him and I loved that he was a little quirky and a lot cool.
As predicted, we were excellent together and eventually decided to get married. All the normal things ensued such as buying a home, and having two gorgeous sons together.
I was living the life I’d always assumed I would, and I loved it. People always told me they were jealous that I had such a fantastic relationship with my husband. He was my best friend and my biggest advocate. I felt lucky every single day.
I was so used to being with someone and comfortable in my relationship and in my role as a wife and mum that the idea of being by myself became one of my greatest fears. I didn’t even like going out into the backyard at night on my own. I was scared of the dark, scared of the thoughts that would tumble around in my head, and pretty much scared of my own company.
So then of course, as tends to happen, my greatest fear came and pulled the rug out from under me with a nasty flourish.
Out of nowhere (at my end anyway) my husband told me he didn’t love me any more. I will never forget the sound of those words. I remember him saying “you can’t be surprised” — which was astounding to me because surprised was what I most definitely was.
I truly didn’t see my divorce coming, and I was someone who thought I was pretty smart and intuitive, so it was a nasty shock to realise how in the dark I had been over the past 16 years.
What ensued for me was a period of shock, horror and grief that I can’t adequately describe in words. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t imagine the suffocating sadness that enveloped me like a weighted blanket.
The night terrors were the worst. I would wake up crying, or what was even more awful was waking up all happy and then remembering what was happening and feeling the fear come at me like a freight train, sucking the breath out of me.
I worried endlessly over my finances and the wellbeing of the children. I couldn’t imagine how I could live and parent on my own.
But, having no other choice, I got on with it, one day at a time and with the support of my best friend Carolyn, my family and my community, putting one foot in front of the other.
And then the craziest thing started happening.
It was only early days but there was a faint glimmer of joy when I realised I actually enjoyed my day-to-day life on my own. I had spent years as one half of a couple. But now I was just me, and I realised I actually like it.
I had changed a lot over 16 years and I was a very different woman from the girl I was back when my ex and I had got together. The more time I spent alone, the more I noticed my fears starting to fall away as I found myself and my independence.
My psychologist gave me a mantra that I recited every day, “Now I get to live the way I want to live”.
I didn’t ask for my divorce to happen, but once I realised that it happened for a number of reasons, I could see that my ex had done the right thing. And the upshot was that being alone was starting to feel empowering and comfortable, like a gifted coat that fit beautifully and looked good on me — even though I probably would never have chosen it off the rack myself.
I had always believed I could not live without my husband. But it turns out I can. From a place of my greatest fear, I have emerged into a place where I realise I am capable. And resilient. And I love my life.
That was the beginning of a whole new and wonderful chapter for me and why I am now so passionate about helping other women turn their divorces into the best thing that ever happened. From the darkest places come the greatest opportunities.
Gillian Moody and Carolyn Tate are the founders of Champagne Divorce Club, a membership programme and community that empowers newly single women to navigate their darkest days and design their own future.
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