How divorce made me a better person

It’s my divorsary again. In an excellent sign, I nearly forgot about it this year. Finally – finally!

I seem to be getting over that series of unfortunate events which left me feeling like the average iPhone screen after it makes encounters with a tiled floor at high velocity.

Judging by the spike in our divorce rates, quite a few of my fellow South Africans are going through the same thing.

So here’s some good news for all of you. If you’re anything like me, divorce will make you a better person. Yes, really.

Since my marriage ended, I’ve become kinder, more considerate and much more generous - to the point where a friend calls me a crazy cow (I take that as a compliment).

How did this happen? How did divorce make me a better human being than I was before – Sarah 2.0 , if you like?

Well, firstly, there’s nothing like an extended sabbatical in hell to make you more empathetic and caring. Divorce can make one bitter and angry – and for a while, that’s exactly what happened to me.

But I found that the solution to my own despair was kindness to others.

After more than four years of having to pick up the pieces and start again, I found that the things that used to matter to me don’t matter as much any more.

I’m much less interested in owning things, and far more interested in making a positive impact on other people.

I’ve found meaning through donating to charity, raising funds for good causes, and painting cows with lipstick. Thanks to my divorce, I’m the person I am today.

Then there’s the question of money. Not having to ask permission for what I choose to do with mine has been wonderfully liberating.  Now I can donate as much as I like to charity.

I can lend money to friends if they need it, and I’ve bankrolled the business I started with my partners. If I were still married, none of that would have happened.

My husband would have had a cadenza and burst a major blood vessel long ago. (He once screamed at me all the way to a friend’s wedding reception because he felt I’d spent too much on the gift and forbade me from giving it too them – I can’t begin to imagine how he’d cope with my wild spending on others now.)

Yes, I ‘m often lectured by friends appalled by how much money I have given away this year – but I’m not married to them, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Lastly, anyone who has been in a toxic relationship will know how easy it is to become imprisoned in a petty, vindictive version of yourself. My husband was always angry with me because I turned out not to be the dutiful, organized wife he wanted.

For my part, I became resentful and sullen because I was always In Trouble. Long story short, we made one another miserable - and both of us are much better off now that we’re apart.

A failed relationship certainly teaches you what you don’t want in a partner, and, if you have enough self-awareness, how you yourself contribute to unhappiness. 

I’ve avoided serious relationships since getting divorced but if I ever went there again, I’d do my best not to fall into the same traps. All in all, I’m probably much more mature, considerate and a better prospect as a partner than I was when I said “I do” at the age of 26.

So, yes, divorce is painful. It can take a long time to get over it, especially if you have a previous history of depression. But it’s also a fine test of character, and chances are you will come out a better person on the other side.

Here’s to being a crazy cow.

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