That brings me to say this. My name is Bethany and I am about to be divorced. There I said it. It only took me 10 months to admit it. For the first four months I was in denial. Then I went through anger and bargaining and depression. Those three were on a constant loop for about 6 months. Finally last month I reached acceptance. Am I embarrassed? You bet I am. I mean this was not supposed to happen. We help other couples avoid this we don't get divorced. But it did and it is.
The hows and whys is not important for the general public. Just know that we both made bad choices and we regret them, but what is done is done. I personally don't believe in divorce so the fact that I am getting one is kinda ironic, but again there were circumstances that led to this final decision between the two of us. We are having a civil divorce. There are no lawyers. We agreed on pretty much everything. We went together to file the papers at the court house. We went to the parenting class and sat together as we listened to the crazy, bitter divorcing people that could do nothing but bash each other. Do we still have the occasional fight? Sure we do and there is yelling and tears, but we are always able to talk civilly afterward and move forward and past it. What we are doing is not the norm, but it is us. It is the only way we can be because we have kids and they come before our feelings about our marriage and so we have agreed to get along. We don't go to movies together or hang out on weekends, but there is no McDonalds transfer of the children. We go into each others place and chat before leaving.
So what does this all mean for me now? Well, I have found myself this summer. Every year we send the girls to his parents for the summer. Yes for the summer and we are ok with that and yes we miss them, but we also know it is good for us all. So this summer was actually the best summer of my life. You may wonder how I can say that. I mean I filed for divorce and spent the entire summer living alone. Sure that part sucked, but I also found Bethany. I wasn't working so I spent a month volunteering at the local community theatre and I learned so much and I had a great time. I could have sat home missing my family and sulking and being miserable, but well I spent 7 years doing that already. This summer I got what so many women with kids never get. I got time to live just for me. I knew my kids were taken care of so I took care of me.
I know most women can't do that. Either they can't stand to be away from their kids that long or it just is not something that can actually be done, but even if it is just a week here or there all women need time away from their kids to step out of the mom role for awhile. See I didn't. I didn't take that time away when my girls were younger. My youngest was sick a lot and we moved a lot so I did not have close friends and money was always tight or so I thought. There was always some reason why I didn't take time for me. I was a stay home mom so I was home with them 24/7. My husband and I would occasionally go on dates, but not often enough and I still didn't really have anything that was mine. I tried to take up photography and I am pretty good at it, but I didn't stick to it because I never really took the time to go out and take pictures. I lost me and that is part of the reason my marriage nearly failed four years ago. God brought us back together and we wanted to help other couples not go through what we went through. I felt called to speak to women and encourage them to be strong. Ace and I talked about it and he felt called to speak to men about being spiritual leaders so we wrote the book and we spoke, but after a year of speaking and writing that book we realized we had not fed our marriage.
From what I have since learned it is not uncommon for people who go into marriage ministry to actually have marriage problems because they spend so much time helping others they don't help themselves. Well that is exactly what we did and we took God out of the marriage. We tried to get it back once we saw it going down hill, but by then things had been said and done that could not be taken back. So now we are here. We are both moving forward without the other one and we are ok with it. We both realized that keeping the family together for the sake of keeping the family together was not enough.
But I have learned a lot over the last year and I am a stronger women because of it. I have been taken care of my whole life. I went from being taken care of by my parents to being taken care of by my husband. I didn't work because I was taking care of my girls so I gave up my life to follow him around and raise our children. I realized this summer I changed everything about myself for him. I even changed what I liked to drink. He was an adamant coca-cola drinker and hated Pepsi. I know that is a small thing, but I gave up what I liked for him. What kind of example does that set for my girls? Sure he let me do it so he played a role to, but this is not about him. It took 17 years to get here, but I am here and I finally know who I am. I finally know what I like and I finally know what my dreams are. People may think I am terrible because I can send my girls away for the summer, but I think it is worse to give up myself for a man. I never want my girls to do that.
God and I had a long talk one day about my future and he showed me why I need this time alone. He showed me that my whole life I have given up who I am for men. I did the same with the guys I dated and the man I married. I let them change me into who they wanted me to be. I did it so much that I turned 37 years old and did not know who in the world I was. I know now though and I know what I am going to do with my life. God told me four years ago I am going to write and I am going to speak. I just got it wrong about the topics and audience. I will work where I have to work to make ends meet, but I will follow my dreams too.
I feel very blessed right now. Some women go their whole life and never know who they are. Sure I wish I had figured it out while I was married, but I don't know if that would have changed things or not. I can't woulda shoulda coulda anymore. Life is too short for regrets. I can either live in the past and be miserable or I can look to the future while living in the present. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so why keep looking back?
I see women who have their lives wrapped up in their men. They don't feel complete unless they have a man. I was one of those women for a long time. I asked a girl not to long ago where would she be if she was not with the guy she was with and her answer, I kid you not, was probably with another boyfriend. Really? Wake up ladies! Sure it is great to have a man in your life, but that is not what defines us. I don't say that because I am divorcing. I don't say that because I have some hatred of men (which I don't). I say that because I want other women to know who they are outside of wife/girlfriend or even mother. A man is by your side, he is not your identity. I once had a name badge that was made for me when Ace was working at a radio station in Nashville that literally said, "Ace's Wife". It didn't say Bethany on there anywhere and I didn't have the self worth to be bothered by it. Never again will my identity be anything other than Bethany. My last name may change, but I will be Bethany first.
So here I am. Almost 38 years old and about to have my divorce final in a month. I am a mother til the day I die, that will never change and maybe one day I will be someone elese's significant other in one way or another, but I won't lose Bethany again. I won't change what I like or who I am just to be with a man. My favorite drink? Yeah it is Dr. Pepper, but if someone offers me a Pepsi I won't turn it down. If someone asks me what I like, I will tell them what Bethany likes not what some guy likes. I like my eggs over medium and without cheese. I like bar b q sauce on my wings not wings sauce. I like the Beatles, that was real, but as for music? Well, I don't like live music and I like pop music more than the blues and I like Billy Joel more than Elton John. I like football and when I care about the team I will watch it, but if I miss a game it is not the end of the world. I like romantic comedies not action movies. I like police dramas not talent competitions. It took me going through a divorce to admit this, but this summer I have watched what I wanted, listened to what I wanted and eaten what I wanted. I picked where I wanted to go out to eat and I picked what movies I saw and I loved it. If there was a man in my life now sure we would do what he wants sometimes, but we would do what I want as well.
So there you go. I am Bethany. I wrote a book about marriage and I am about to be divorced and that's ok. The sun will still come up tomorrow. I will still breathe as long as God allows me to. People will still get up and live their lives and after all the people who have something to say about the fact that we are divorcing have had their say and made their snide comments they will go back to living their lives with no thought of us. The embarrassment will go away and life will go on. Just because this is what is happening in my world right now does not mean it will always be what people remember me for. Hopefully I will do something much better to be remembered for, but if for some reason I don't I seriously doubt that people will care that we wrote a book about marriage and ended up divorced ten years from now. I will continue to grow from this, but as the days pass even I won't think about it anymore. As for now I will just trust God to lead the way.