Year One is Done: My First Months after Separation

It’s been 365 days now.

One full year since my separation from my ex. It was a year of firsts, a year of frustration, a year of knee-buckling agony, a year of growth.

I will not miss 2018, but it will certainly serve as a mile marker.

The first few months of my separation were like a frenzy. My mind and heart were moving in so many different directions. On one hand, I was still very much grieving and processing all that I was going through as well as the prospect of what I would face alone. On another hand, the freedom of life as a single adult opened my eyes to so many possibilities.

For the first time in almost 13 years, I was harnessing an independence that felt bigger than me. My world felt tremendously vast and unexplored. It was both exhilarating and paralyzing. As I edged the great precipice of possibility, anxious to set off on new journeys, I realized I had absolutely no idea who I was.

None.

Up until that point, my adult life had been defined by my marriage and my children. All of a sudden, I wasn’t a wife any longer, and I only had my kids half the time. What was I without all of them? And the more I dwelled on my identity crisis, the more daunting my new situation felt.

In those first few months, I felt an insatiable need to fill the hole my ex left behind. And I think my new-found independence played a role in this phase. No one was there to tell me no or talk me down. No one was holding me back or influencing my decisions. I wanted to get a puppy. I wanted to travel to exotic places. I wanted to get a tattoo. I wanted to start opening myself up to the idea of another relationship.

I wanted to do those things for all the wrong reasons. All because I was in pain and scared.

Year One is Done: My First Months after Separation

Luckily, I didn’t make any insanely hasty decisions. I didn’t buy a puppy. The kids and I ended up taking a trip to exotic Wisconsin. I talked myself out of getting a tattoo. Initially, I set up an online dating profile that I have since deleted.

It’s true, I lived with a void for many months that could have easily swallowed me whole. And though that chasm begged to be filled, I denied the urge, which was far more difficult than it sounds. Giving into the urges would have been easy in the moment, harder over time. I could have easily gotten a puppy. I could have over-extended myself with a costly vacation or symbolic tattoo. I could have forced myself into another relationship that would have inevitably set me back even further.

But I didn’t.

I suffered because it was needed. I pained because as I sit here today, I can tell you it was worth it. Last year was the hardest year I’ve ever experienced in my life. While it was the hardest, it was also the most worthwhile.

Today, I am more sure of myself than I have ever been. Don’t get me wrong, I still have so much to figure out. But I’m leaps and bounds above where I was this time last year. I gave myself the time to hurt, the time to heal, and the time to set free what I needed to rid myself of. That time, while excruciatingly unbearable at certain points, was the most important time I ever gave myself.

That time paved the way for what’s next for me and my kids.

Year one is in the books. Year two, I’m coming for you.


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Jess is a born and raised Iowan who has lived in Vinton for the past 10 years. She has two children, 10-year-old Landon and 4-year-old Fynnlee. Jess attended Kirkwood and UNI and now operates an in-home daycare. She considers herself an independent author and has self-published a few eBooks. She enjoys attending Landon’s sporting events, spending time with her family, as well as writing and reading in her free time.