Off-late, I have been reading post from various IL’s - some divorced, some contemplating divorce, some in unhappy marriages, still hoping for a change….a lucky few who have finally found their prospective better half the second time, some who are still awaiting for the best to happen… Each time I read or reply to an IL’s post, I feel her pain, I want to leap through the page and reassure her, give her a hug. Divorce is one of the most difficult journeys one can go on. At a basic level it is survival of the fittest and can be separated into two parts; the legal and the emotional. The legal is simple, but the emotional turmoil is what wears us down, grinding us into little pieces. After my divorce I have pretty much stayed away from dating. I won’t deny – I still don’t trust “men” but I also admit or rather face the fact – I still don’t trust myself to make good decisions. That might take a while, or I might end up being happily ‘single’. A few months before I wrote a post on my solo trip to south India. The ‘Eat, Pray not Love but Let’s Live’ kind of journey. My visit to Dhanushkodi beach in Rameswaram was the best part of that trip. I remember sitting on the beach, the sun glistening like diamonds on the water. The beach area was so quiet that I could hear the sound of the gentle breeze whispering while the waves crashed on the shore. While I connected to the beauty around me, I also found the courage to reflect on my failed marriage and the loss of my identity. Identity….that’s the big one isn’t it? For years I been someone’s spouse, someone’s parent, have lived in a house I learnt to call ‘my home’, had these friends, had gone to this job and now this. Now I had to start over again ! Who was I? I was the wife to a man who did not love me. I was a mother to a beautiful baby boy. I had sacrificed my dreams, my beliefs and yes, even some of my values to make another person happy. So, then the question Who did I want to be? I wanted to be my true self, a best mother to my son, a woman working hard to realize her own potential, staying strong to my values in my own unique way. The solo trip was the beginning of that journey. Yes, there were days during my trip where every place I went or every temple I visited there were families all around me, I realized I was alone. It made me turn around and ask – How can there be a GOD who would allow such suffering. When I met my ex-husband I thought he was fascinating. On a surface level it seemed that the values we shared were enough. I overlooked a lot of other differences that inevitably surfaced. I admit I loved him more than I ever loved myself and I feared the worst. I was afraid that I would be judged, I was afraid if I was capable enough to support my child. But after years of enduring a painful marriage I realized that I had hit a dead-end. Trying to change the unchangeable was senseless. The anger and betrayal was soul crushing. My entire being was filled with unsurmountable painful emotions. I had been betrayed, I wanted revenge. Loss of my family, my home and my identity made me angry than ever. It’s very, very hard being that adult who has lost so much but is still supposed to be that parent who cannot criticize or let down the other parent as the child would interpret it as a let-down of part of them, making them feel unworthy. But going through the dark phase alone scared me even more. My face looked like it would collapse into sobs at any minute, my smile non-existent. I was an emotional wreck. There were many days I spent behind closed doors, tears streaming down my face after a particularly difficult call with my ex or my lawyer. I was hardly functioning. Each time I looked at my child, I wondered if he ever knew he was the only source of my strength and happiness. He would greet me every morning with a huge hug and smile and the feeling of being his only protector was daunting. Every time I cried, sobs escaped from my mouth, my face contorted in anguish and loss. I turned to look at my son and he was no longer smiling. Instead, his tiny little eyebrows were furrowed as he reached out to me. It was then I woke up out of my stupor. Through the pain and the pity party, I was astonished to note that my child could read the emotions on my face ! It was a major turning point. How could I possibly protect him if I was not strong enough? I had to protect him from my pain. That day was the last day I cried over the breakup of my marriage. Today, as I got my son ready for school, I couldn’t help but smile. He was hunting for his friendship band and was unhappy that I was not assisting him in the hunt. He looked like a carbon copy of his father, especially when he made certain faces and used certain mannerisms. As he boarded his school bus I smiled again. Said a little prayer for his safety and thanked God for bringing him into my life. The bond we share is like no other. I no longer reflect on my past or what could have been. I have made peace with my past. I am no longer a victim. I have learnt to forgive myself and forgive my ex. People think you are weak if you love too strong or fall too hard. Without trials or confronting what ‘life’ throws on us none of us would understand what our strengths are. We can all remain safe in our little bubbles but unless we learn to overcome life’s challenges we can never celebrate the possibility of what could be !