Tag Archives: life after divorce

Celebrating my Divorce Anniversary!

divorce cake

It was a chilly Friday morning when I drove myself to the court house. My stomach was in knots and I was trembling on the inside. I thought I might throw up but I held it together as I walked through the metal detectors and onto the elevator. I made chit chat with a man that seemed even more nervous than I was. We both got off on the same floor and realized we were headed to the same court room…the one that handles divorces. He asked to sit next to me while we waited for the judge and it was a welcomed relief to have a new friend to go through this with me. I wore dark clothes, like I was dressed for a funeral. It’s how I felt. My marriage had long been dead and I was here to lay it to rest.

Ironically, it was four years ago to the day that I had my first date with my husband. And now, it’s gone full circle and I’m getting divorced from him. The proceedings only take a couple minutes from when my name is called. The paperwork is signed and stamped and I’m free to go. It’s a little anticlimactic after the pain and anguish it took me to come to the decision to get divorced in the first place. But, the bottom line is, “It’s finally over.”

I head down a couple flights of stairs and change my name. I walk back out of the courthouse, as Miss Karen Jerabek. I finally feel like myself again. I’ve shed the pain and disappointment and all the trauma that a divorce creates. I’m free of all of that. I can now move forward and I can create the life that I had always envisioned for myself. I have a second chance.

Several years later, here I am celebrating another divorce anniversary. I can’t help but marvel at the young woman I was on that first date with my now ex-husband, who was so full of life, love and excitement about a new relationship that was about to bloom. And then I wistfully think of the woman that clenched her teeth and filed for divorce. She went through hell and back and yet she still had hope that she could have a second chance. And now, here I am. I’m living that second chance and I’m happier with my life than I ever thought possible. My life isn’t perfect, far from it. But it’s filled with joy and love and contentment. Getting divorced was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Each year, I toast all three of us – the woman that had the courage to love, the woman that had the courage to get divorced and the woman that continues to have the courage to embrace this second chance with all it’s bumps and curves and unexpected delights. Cheers to us and cheers to all of you that are embarking on your second chance. Be grateful for this opportunity to reinvent your life and embrace all of the twists and turns that will make it fabulous.

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How My Dogs Saved Me from Divorce

Karen with Bailey & Sierra

How My Dogs Saved Me from Divorce by: Karen Jerabek

I’m always inspired by stories where someone survives a tragedy because their pet rescued them. I glance at my two dogs, Bailey and Sierra, who are sleeping on my sofa and wonder if they’d pull me from our burning house or alert a neighbor if I was knocked unconscious. I watch them sleep contentedly, Bailey with her head rested on the edge of the sofa and Sierra stretched out on her back with her paws straight up in the air. Would my beloved couch potatoes be able to rescue me in a crisis? Well, they’ve already rescued me once, so I shouldn’t have any doubt that they would do it again. They didn’t save me in the traditional sense,but they rescued me nonetheless.

When I first realized I was getting divorced, I broke down. I couldn’t breathe; I gasped for air. I ran into the bathroom, threw the door shut behind me, stripped off my clothes and climbed in the shower. I squeezed my eyes shut as the water enveloped me, hoping I could keep the tears from coming but they came anyways. Hot, salty tears streamed down my face mixing with the shower water covering me in diluted tears. The pain however wasn’t diluted. It was raw and harsh and kept hitting me blow by blow until I collapsed on the floor of my tub hyperventilating.

The life I had planned and the life that I thought I was living ceased to exist in that moment. The path that I had been walking had brought me to a cute little cul-de-sac house where I lived with my husband and our two dogs. I believed that the cookie cutter happily ever after was just around the corner. But, I never rounded that corner. Instead I was thrown violently off course. I could ignore it, I could refuse to accept it, I could even try to will it out of existence but the fact remained: my marriage was over.

Once I accepted the end of my marriage, which was a feat in itself, I moved out of my cul-de-sac home and filed for divorce. The only thing I cared about was getting custody of my dogs. Nothing else mattered to me. Luckily, he agreed to let me keep both the girls. I left most of the furniture behind and moved into an apartment and started a new job. I felt shell-shocked that my life had done a 180-degree spin. I was unsure of what to make of this new life that had been thrust upon me – the life of a divorcee.

Bailey and Sierra were happy to leave the tension filled house we had been living in and settled quickly into our quiet little apartment. I kept looking into their beautiful brown eyes and asking them, “Now what?” I never expected them to tell me how to survive my divorce; I just wanted to share my bewilderment with someone. As we adjusted to our new life, I realized that they were in fact rescuing me from my divorce and showing me how to live again. Here are the survival tips I learned from my dogs.

Survival Tip #1 – Get Out Of Bed

When I just didn’t want to face the world and I’d rather pull the covers over my head, my dogs lovingly reminded me the most important step in getting on with your life: get out of bed, already! They’d nudge me with their noses, woo at me to make sure I was awake and then go paw at the door until I agreed to get up. Their persistence reminded me that it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, today is a new day and I have to get up and get on with it. Battling the urge to put off reality wasn’t easy but it was the first step to creating a new life.

Survival Tip #2 – Stick To A Routine

Our daily routine includes: morning walk, breakfast, nap for dogs/work for Karen, night walk, dinner, late night potty break, and bedtime snack. Whether I felt like it or not, this was what we did every single day. I didn’t have to wake up in the morning and ask, “What am I going to do?” I had my routine. My dogs taught me that simply putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the basic requirements of each day made for a successful day – and that was good enough.

Survival Tip #3 – Explore Your New Surroundings

Bailey and Sierra didn’t hesitate to head down new trails and explore what the new apartment complex had to offer. They fearlessly sniffed here and sniffed there and investigated everything that caught their interest. They embraced the change as an opportunity to see what new things they could try out. They taught me to start going out again, even if it was just to Barnes and Noble to get a new book. I soon found new stores and new parks and new restaurants that I could enjoy.

Survival Tip #4 – Be Friendly To New People

I didn’t know anyone that lived near our new apartment and neither did the dogs. This fact didn’t stop them from walking up to each and every new face we encountered to say hello. They’d head straight for them, wagging their tails and sniffing hello. In watching their friendliness, I realized it was time for me to start being friendly as well and to quit wallowing in loneliness. I started talking to more people and opening myself up to new friendships. It wasn’t long before I’d created a great group of friends.

Survival Tip #5 – Keep Pulling Forward

When I go out for a walk, Bailey and Sierra head straight for our normal walking path. It occurred to me one day that they never bothered to look behind them. They kept going forward, stopping once in a while but always moving on. They taught me that I needed to stop looking backwards. I needed to quit looking at the life I used to have and start pulling forward into the new life that was waiting for me.

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If you enjoyed reading this article, pop over to Amazon and sample a chapter of my novel, Helping Karma.  It’s about a woman who is struggling to heal after getting her heart smashed. http://www.tinyurl.com/HelpingKarma

This article was previously published in Dog Living Magazine and on The Mini Marriage Website.