A few weeks ago I celebrated my divorce in the company of close friends and family. It was definitely a joyous occasion as we dined over good food and great energy. The gathering was impromptu, invites were sent via text and I literally planned it the night before with my cousin who was also celebrating her divorce which was granted just a few days before mine. I was surprised by all the "I'll see you there" responses and the turn out warmed my heart. I've gotten a lot of side eyes as word has spread that I am celebrating divorce but I would like to set the record straight. I don't advocate for divorce. I advocate for wholeness by any means necessary but even this philosophy took me a while to attain. I remember a time that I was fresh in my marriage and still on that newlywed high full of hopes and dreams for our future. The same cousin who just celebrated with me came to me seeking advice regarding her derailing marriage around October of 2014. I'm known to give good advice with my forte being toxic relationships but this was advice on a topic I was not familiar with. I hadn't been married that long and I was talking to someone who was about 10 years in the game. I remember encouraging her to work it out and to stick by her husband and to forgive him and all the other good save your marriage tactics that were taught to me. We continued our conversation over dinner and parted ways later that evening. We caught up weekly over candid conversations that usually resulted in me jokingly calling her crazy. She informed me not too long after our 'save her marriage meeting' that they would officially be parting ways. I knew that God could change anyone and fix anything so I secretly held hope and prayed that they would work things out even in the midst of me knowing she deserved better. That was my first experience with giving advice on a topic I didn't have experience with but a few months after this in February of 2015 I got my second chance at this.
So the gate is open and the chains have been broken, but where does that leave me? Honestly, I'm in the doorway looking out at my freedom and its vast possibilities but stuck between dreams and reality. It’s been a week since my divorce has been final but I can't say that it has really hit me yet. I am still a bit numb. Like it is officially over? Like really over? Like I'm really done!? I know I did a good job of concealing the depth of the troubles in my marriage. I know that God's grace made it look like what I went through wasn't a big deal and maybe didn't even warrant a divorce but the truth is the depth of my marriage woes were ugly and painful. I never thought I would leave. I never thought that I would stop trying. I never thought that I would move on and at a point in time I couldn't even fathom what that looked like or how I would even take the first step. I was under the impression that all that I was going through was what I deserved and it ultimately became my normal. I began to think that I didn't deserve love and that I would never know what love from a significant other felt like. At my breaking point, I remember asking God this can't be all that you have for me. This can't be all that I deserve and this definitely can’t be a reflection of your love. I felt unloved, I felt neglected, I felt worthless and I was emotionally tapped out. I had poured out all that I could to save our marriage the first time and he still hadn't changed, he still hadn't forgiven me and he no longer wanted to try. Despite my unbreakable demeanor, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and being on the receiving end of his bitterness. The little hope left in me led me to believe that I deserved more and the truth set in that I wasn't going to get it from him. He tapped out long before I did but I had finally mustered up enough courage to throw my towel in too. I didn't care that it made me look like a failure. I didn't care that people to this day would be saying I told you so. I was dying inside and desperate to live.
The day I found out that I was finally assigned a court date to finalize my divorce, I immediately reached out to my photographer to schedule a photo shoot. I wanted to do a divorce photo shoot unlike any of the other divorce photo shoots I saw on my google and Pinterest search. Most of those images were fueled by bitterness, rage and revenge. Depicted with burning wedding dresses, destroying property they once shared, or even downing liquor in provocative clothes. None of those photos inspired me and wasn't how I wanted to capture this final chapter of my marriage. I was not bitter. I was not angry. I was not unforgiving. I was not the newly single who wanted to mingle and downing alcohol in lingerie was definitely not an option. Instead I wanted to capture the peace in my release. I wanted to show that it is possible to heal from a divorce and to move forward in full wholeness. I wanted to show that divorce doesn't have to be a sad or angry thing. And most of all I wanted to shift the focus from my emotions for my former spouse to me and my healing journey and show that all this could be done with grace, dignity and class. For those of you who are new to my blog or Instagram you have some catching up to do! I separated from my husband in August of 2016, decided to divorce in October of 2016, filed for Divorce in January of 2017 and have been waiting patiently for this day to come. I've shared this journey of mine throughout my Instagram and via my blog and have self titled this season #BloomingUnapologetically. This divorce was honestly the best decision I've ever made. It took me a while to make the decision and even longer to actually act on it but today was the day. I am divorced and I am ecstatic! Today marked the end to a significant chapter in my life and turned the page to my rebirth.
So after having a conversation with a few of my girlfriends over lunch this past weekend I realized that I'm a little weird. I'm that person who enjoys meeting strangers without apprehension and traveling alone. They asked me about the recent traveling I've been doing, specifically my birthday trip to New York. They commended me for being brave enough to travel on my own but stated they were too scared to try it themselves. I explained that I enjoy going places where I know no one and traveling alone allows me to do this but I usually don't remain alone. I end up meeting strangers and making connections along the way. Sounds a little reckless but the way my life is set up, I only go where I'm led so I know I'll be protected wherever I go. I go without expectation except to be used somewhere along the way. I shared with them the story of the stranger I encountered on my recent birthday trip to New York. I'd like to share that story with you too as encouragement to step outside your comfort zone. You never know who you may meet and encourage if you strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. You may find out they they were never really a stranger to begin with, just a kindred spirit you hadn’t met yet.
What do you do when what God calls you to do sounds crazy? Are you willing to walk away from the life you have created for yourself and live a life surrendered for His glory? My 2016 was just that. In November/ December of 2015 I remember being at my lowest emotionally and physically. I was unhappy in my marriage, receiving less than I deserved. I felt depleted in my friendships, pouring out more than what I was getting in and I was at a point where I could not get myself out of my depression. I had hit rock bottom despite what it looked like on the outside. I remember vividly praying to God asking Him to send a friend who can pour into me.
During my 10 day vacation, I was often fatigued and it was difficult to keep up with our jam packed itinerary. By the end of my trip I needed a vacation from my vacation. Little did I know when I returned home, my journey had just begun and the life I knew would dramatically change.