One of the most important lessons I learned after my divorce was the importance of dying to my old self. I had to kill her. I had to bury her 10-feet under — not six but TEN! There was no way I could have continued life and prospered in any manner had I continued to be the battered shell that had been left to rot.
By the time I made it back to Louisiana permanently in late August 2013, I was living life in a parallel universe. I was watching myself from a distance. Eventually, I was shaken back into reality and couldn’t believe what I was viewing. I was damaged in every imaginable way and I looked it. I mean I was a mess from my hair to my clothes. I just didn’t care.
That version of me didn’t just appear overnight. That woman had been dragged, half-way rebuilt, dragged again, and then just left to mold. She’d been left to die by someone who didn’t care about the destruction that had been left. The only time my appearance was mentioned was when my ex said, “You look pretty good when you comb your hair.” That came after he pleaded with me to have sex with his friend so he could watch. That night, my sense of self-worth tanked and it would take nearly five years for me to pull my head out of the sand.
The inside of my head and mind had been damaged by a battering ram of mental and emotional abuse. It had been bludgeoned nearly to death.
Once I woke up, though, I knew I had to finish off the old Trease. She would have killed me if I hadn’t.
One day, I woke up and remembered that I’m smart. I’m not only speaking of my bachelor’s degree or my paralegal certificate. I’m talking about being wise to life. Some folks even refer to me as a smart-ass and that’s true, but I’m smart nonetheless.
I realized that I have amazing worth. My friends and family love me. I love me!
I realized that I’m pretty. Nah, I’m beautiful. Don’t take that as conceit because if there’s one thing I despise, it’s deceit, but I know I’m easy on the eyes. Gray hair and all, I’m okay.
Most importantly, I realized that I have so much to offer the world. The old Trease had to die in order for the new one to surface. The two of them couldn’t co-exist. One had to go and I chose to release the one who was no good to herself or anyone else.
I woke up and got a good whiff of the smell of life.
I still have a way to go in some areas of my life, but for the most part, I’m good. I know I deserve unconditional love from a man. I know that I will give unconditional love to the next man. I won’t let the past dictate my future.
I keep myself up even though I could stand to lose a few pounds. I’m working on that, but my love of cheese and cake are undermining my best efforts.
Do what you have to do to be who you want to be. There is life after abuse. There is indeed life after abuse.
Trusting again and ultimately loving again after divorce is hard. Dare I say in some cases, it’s impossible. It doesn’t have to be. It really shouldn’t be. Read on.
It’s not just about allowing a new person into your physical space. Starting a new relationship means that at any point, your emotions can peek around the corner of that wall you’ve so carefully constructed to keep the bad guys out. It means that at any point, your heart can, open itself up to that person.
Neither your heart nor your emotions ask your permission to fall in love. They just do it. They don’t consult your head. They just march right ahead and unfortunately, sometimes, land you in situations you have no business in. In some cases, the divorceé gets thrashed about in heartbreak again, but there are times when he or she causes the damage. Intentional or not, hurt people hurt people.
I’ve watched three guys remarry or get into committed relationships relatively quickly after getting divorced. I’m talking within a year or two. Don’t get me wrong — I know everyone is different. The thing is, the shortest length of time any of them had been married was 19 years. That’s a lot of time to spend with one person regardless of how wretched the situation was. True enough, they had all been in toxic marriages, but none of them were ready for (re)commitment. They were faking it. You can imagine what happened next…
The women they’d jumped into these new relationships with were destroyed. In one case, a college friend of mine got remarried after being married to another college friend for 22 years, posted absolutely beautiful pictures of their wedding, professed his love for the woman he deemed his soulmate, then silently divorced her after 10 months.
Another guy pulled a woman into a “Facebook relationship” within a year and a half of his divorce and what do you know? Their thing is done, too. He had been married 19 years.
Things can fall apart the other way, too. I know countless numbers of women who jump into relationships with guys they deem “the one” shortly after divorce and end up with the same kind of guy that hurt them before. I know too many guys who head into new relationships with women that treat them just as badly as their ex’s because the heart tends to lead the head after divorce.
In the end, I believe we’re all out to find love — not that fake mess that we see so often on social media. We want to love and to be loved. I fully believe there is someone out there for each one of us. Sometimes you stumble upon him or her at the grocery store. Sometimes you know all along, but keep missing that person. I know exactly where my soulmate is. Just know that timing is everything. Timing is everything. Until all things are set in their proper places, the timing will always seem to be off. Patience. Patience, my friend.
The circumstances leading up to the dissolution of marriage vary from couple to couple, but as I’ve stressed before, not every divorce calls for sympathy. Some are cause for celebration. Either way, though, folks are left to pick up the pieces.
Even though it was surely time for me to be free from the abusive hell I had been caught up in, I was left in such a confused state that I didn’t even know where I was going to live after June 2013. The divorce was final in April of that year, but I quickly discovered that it would be impossible for me to stay in Dallas. I had been a SAHM mom for a lot of years and had lost my place in corporate America. More importantly, I had lost my self-worth, my self-confidence, and my sense of identity.
I didn’t want to leave Dallas. I had wanted to live there since I was a little girl and I was extremely angry because the choice of living there had more or less been taken away from me as the result of the divorce. I will never, ever regret staying at home with Will because I think he’s a better guy for the fact that I was there every evening when he got home, but I regretted the fact that I had trusted my livelihood to someone who shouldn’t have been trusted with the pen he used to sign our marriage license with. Anyway, life as I knew it would never be the same and that, my friends, was the best thing that could have happened to and for me.
My then-boyfriend often reminded me once when I was complaining back in 2014 that I had been brought back to Louisiana for more than regrouping, resetting, and recharging. He reminded me that I had been brought back here to help with my elderly mom whose health was extremely poor. I couldn’t see that for the longest time because I was blinded by the anger brought on by the divorce. Eventually, I realized he was right. I also realized that I had been brought back here to pick up the pieces.
My credit had been left in shambles. I had been without a “job” since 2005. I had let my weight get out of control. I had no real pride in my appearance except when I knew I would see my guy. There were broken pieces of me everywhere.
Today, I’m proud to say my credit has improved by miles and is on its way back to that 800 mark. Even though I didn’t work a corporate job during the years following my divorce, I did a lot of freelance work, but it was not as fulfilling as I wanted it to be. Thank God, on May 1, I started a paralegal job and am working in family law. And guess who’s back? Yep, prissy Trē! I love dabbling in makeup, I think one of the best things about a woman can be a sweet, sweet smell, and I love making my hair BIG! I also make my way to the gym as often as possible, but that committment is going to be just that — a real committment because my health is worth more than gold.
I still have a ways to go to get everything to a place where I’m completely happy, but the most important thing I’ve discovered is a new sense of self-love. I not only like myself, I love myself. That’s a far cry from a time when I hated looking in the mirror. The pieces may still be out of place, but at least they’re all in one place now.
During the time my divorce was in process, four of my very close friends were also either going through the same thing or had recently finalized theirs. We all had been married a minimum of 19 years, we all had teenaged boys who had seen their moms destroyed by their fathers, and we were all left battered and broken. As horrible as my situation was, it wasn’t the worst of the cases. I dare not discuss the details of anybody’s hell but my own because I am of the belief that if someone trusts you with their story and asks you not to repeat it, you are to carry that thing to the grave. Just know that regardless of how bad your situation is, there is always someone with an even messier one than yours.
What I want to talk about is how ridiculous it is for a person to come into another person’s life, knowing the most painful details of that person’s past, but will turn around and cause even more pain. This quote by Bob Marley is one of the most profound I’ve ever seen:
I think it’s horrible for a person to know that a woman (or man) has been beaten to bloody pieces mentally and emotionally, then cause the exact level of damage, if not a greater one, by taking advantage of his or her love. I don’t care what the circumstances are, you don’t trash another person’s heart. A person’s feelings should not be collateral damage. It takes a very uncaring person to trample over someone who he or she knows loves him or her unconditionally. I know it happens every day, but it’s shameful. It’s not about the broken promise. It’s not about the lies that were told to gain the person’s trust. It’s about opening wounds that the person, him- or herself helped to heal, and pouring an entire box of salt into those wounds. Who does that?
Right now, I’m watching someone I love deeply put on a brave face as the man she spent several years with marry someone else. He cheated on her with this woman but continued to profess his love for my friend. I’ve also witnessed another good friend give up on love because the man she trusted with her entire life and heart moved on to another woman, only telling my friend that he’s not ready for marriage. Keep in mind that she never even mentioned marriage to him because she knew he wasn’t ready and she wasn’t ready, but I guess any old excuse will do. I’m doing my best to convince her that love is real and that she just gave herself to the wrong man. Her argument is that she’s afraid to trust her own judgement, but I’ve almost convinced her that the man who treated her so poorly is just unworthy of her love. She deserves better and I know there’s a man out there for her — one who will love her unconditionally as much as she loved the man who took her for granted.
Nothing in this world will ever make me believe that true love doesn’t exist. I am convinced that we each have a soulmate. I only caution people to be mindful of who they allow to hold the title of “soulmate” in their life because it may just be a case of someone who’s hip to the game, out to find someone to wipe their feet on. Love hard, but love wisely.
It’s hard to rebuild. It can be exciting because there is an element of newness involved in starting things over, but for the most part, rebuilding is hard. It’s been hard for me. I realize everybody’s story is different, but my story of rebuilding is not a particularly pretty one.
Since my divorce, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of an emotional ride. I started out with a plan to be alone for the first five years after I left the social status of being a wife, but that plan was blown to pieces when my ex-boyfriend, who had been an ex-boyfriend twice before we reconnected in 2013, re-captured my heart and we began an extremely intimate relationship. It was exhilarating, but there was enough baggage carried into that thing to fill an entire carousel in an airport. We needed some time apart. Anyway…
I’m finally back in paralegal work and I can’t begin to explain how much I love my job. A long time ago, I vowed that I would never be a family law paralegal, but here I am. It’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. I’m also getting back on track with my book. I’m a stickler for scheduling so the fact that I haven’t had any real structure in my life the past few months has taken its toll on me. I’m on it so things are back under control. There are some other things in the works that I can’t talk about publically, but things are going to be pretty amazing very soon.
For a while there, there was nothing left but scraps. There was nothing left but the shell of a woman who had been everything to everybody except herself. The one thing that the two men who have had hold of my heart the past 30 years will tell you is that I love hard. They both received some of the best treatment a man could possibly want. One had it but threw it all away. Welp, too bad for him. The other one didn’t let me love him with my full heart and I really do feel sorry for him because true love is a treasure, and to have someone willing to give it to you unconditionally is a blessing from God.
If he is not willing to accept all that I am, there is a man out there who will. I believe that. I’m well on the road to becoming an even stronger woman than I was before so for the right man, I’m going to be irreplaceable. I’m nearly 50 so I’m not in this thing for games, indecision, shenanigans, or anything else but commitment. I’m an old-fashioned, country girl so I believe in letting love find me. I’m not going out looking for a man, but I believe, with all my heart, that the man I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with is very, very close and that we’ll cross paths at just the right moment.
I’m rebuilding from the scraps left over from years of damage, but the package is coming together nicely.
Internal bleeding is never good. It’s the result of trauma, fracture, pregnancy, or any number of things. Internal bleeding is indeed a physical condition. It can also, however, be experienced in love.
I’ve reached an age where more of my friends than not have been divorced or have suffered some major blow to their relationships. Both my male and female friends have been devastated by love that eventually failed them in one way or another. Perhaps they fell out of love with their significant other; maybe it was the other way around. Maybe it was a toxic relationship to begin with. Maybe it’s one where it never seems to be the right time. Whatever the case may be, the result is internal bleeding of the heart.
This one, I know about from experience. By the time my marriage ended, I was all out of blood. My ex-husband had drained me, not unlike, a vampire who couldn’t have cared less about the condition in which he left me. He took and took and took until there was nothing left but the shell of the woman he’d married 19 years earlier.
The good thing, though, is that, magically, my blood supply was replenished. Y’all know the story. It replenished, but the relationship that brought me so much happiness at one point eventually tore my rebuilt heart out. It’s hard to explain, but the tumbling of my last relationship was far more painful than my divorce. Maybe it’s not so hard to explain. Maybe it’s just that the man I trusted with my heart was so damaged and worn from his own divorce, he wasn’t capable of loving me like he thought he could. I lost my soulmate.
He is a good man. I’ll always believe that. I think he just got caught up with a woman who, like my husband, entered marriage with a mask on, which ultimately fell off, causing chaos and confusion. He was damaged, but I did my best to help him heal. He had my shoulder and my ear. He had all of me, but it just wasn’t enough.
The internal bleeding has stopped. It stopped a few months ago, but as with any great love story, I miss him. I guess I always will. We are at least on speaking terms again, but I don’t know that we will ever reach that fevered pitch that made us JDW and TSH. That thing was rare and coveted. Not many couples have (or ever will have) what we had. They just won’t because love is not just about the physical. A true love relationship involves the heart, mind, body, and soul. We had a connection that could easily be the topic of one of those “how they stayed together” news blurbs.
Who knows what the future holds, but I sincerely wish everyone could experience love on the level that we shared.