SHARED BY STACEY HILL
I was married for twenty years. From the outside looking in, my life was a storybook. Beautiful home, successful career, two beautiful and wonderful daughters, two awesome golden retrievers, and of course, a happy marriage.
We married when I was twenty-seven; he was five years my senior. We didn’t rush into it. We dated on and off for more than a year and a half, until we finally gave in—to what we thought was forever. But the purpose of this is not to discuss why the marriage ended. My ex-husband and I have a fairly good post-marital relationship. He is the father of my children, and the blessing of that marriage as I look at the big picture are those two girls, now teenagers.
More Downs Than Ups
We weren't happy. There were issues present from very early on in the marriage, perhaps going back to our dating years. I think we chalked that up to idioms like "every marriage is hard" and "every marriage has its ups and downs." While those are true statements, we had more downs than ups.
As the years went on and the girls got older, I gradually became depressed. Depressed because I was deeply unhappy. Depressed because no matter what we tried, my husband and I couldn’t get past our personal issues with one another. I withdrew from my mother, specifically because I didn’t want to share with her my sadness. I became an angry parent. I sought counseling for years on my own to try and learn how to cope and keep peace—but mostly to try to stay in the marriage. I truly did not want to get divorced for the sake of my children. I told no one about my sadness or my situation with the exception of one friend. I spoke to her daily, if not multiple times a day, seeking an ear and seeking spiritual counseling.
After two years of confiding in my best friend, I finally made the decision to leave my marriage. My marriage was not a godly one. My girls saw a marriage in which their parents did not exhibit love for one another. My girls saw a mother who was always on edge.
I was not the person I wanted to be.
In September 2014, I asked for a divorce. Even though I knew in my heart it was the right thing, it was still painful—for us but mainly for the girls. He asked me to move out, and I complied. In February of the following year, our divorce was finalized.
To fail in marriage felt like I failed at life. As a very successful and goal-driven individual, this took a toll on me. I covered up my pain with a lot of partying and sowing my oats. Nothing to be proud of, trust me—but it is a stage that I needed to go through.
I had to rediscover myself as a woman. I had to rediscover myself as a single mom. I had to rediscover myself as Stacey, a wonderful and magnanimous personality whose sense of self had deteriorated over the years. I met many new friends, some of whom are now part of my innermost circle. As I began growing more like the person I want to be, my focus began to shift. My reliance on God became more prevalent. The need to find acceptance through men and friends began to dissipate. Stacey got her groove back. I began focusing on my relationship with my mom again. My priorities were changing, and I was changing.
I found a renewed focus on my original career. I challenged myself to re-instate my credentials as a registered dietitian, something I had lost during the years of "ugh" in my marriage. (I found out this past May that I am reinstated!) I also began thinking of my future, as I look ahead to turning fifty. I found a side gig that aligns perfectly with my passion for fitness, health, and nutrition. I am more available as a mom for my girls.
I have a purpose in my life again: to be the best version of me.
Better Than Before
Last year I began writing a blog about the crazy dating experiences me and my friends had been experiencing. I use that blog as a platform to inspire women spiritually and mentally through my stories of dating and discovering a better "me."
My life has clarity. But I would be remiss if I did not share with you that through all of this transition, the years of depression, and the aftermath, the strength I received would not have been possible without turning it over to God—my lifeline, my redeemer.
My message is one of rebirth. My message is one of taking ourselves out of the depth of despair and knowing that there is light at the end. And that we are all worthy of the fight. Those here on this earth deserve that from us; I know I deserved it for myself and for my daughters.
So whatever your struggles are in life—and I know some are so much more challenging that what I just described—you can overcome them. Ask yourself who you want to be down the road. Who needs you now? Do you need yourself? Whatever higher power you believe in, turn to that. That is all I could do at my lowest point.
My hope is that some of you can relate to my story and know that life does come back—even better than before. I know this to be true!
Be well and be blessed!
About the Author
I am a single mom since October 2014, when my marriage of twenty years ended. I live in a northern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, with my two daughters, both of whom are attending college. I just turned the big 5-0 and am beginning a new chapter of life. I have worked for the same pharmaceutical company for twenty-two years and am a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Public Health.
My passion has always been health and wellness. I'm an avid fitness junkie with Orangetheory Fitness and recently partnered with a health and wellness company! I began blogging in September 2016, chronicling the challenges of dating after divorce. It has been a fun ride and keeps getting better!