Guest Post By Brooke Brown
I never thought I’d have “get divorced” on the list of things I did in my 30th year.
But, here we are.
I feel like I’ve kind of been living a secret life for the past year. Some of my own family members didn’t even know what was going on with me until recently.
It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, or worried about what other people will think of me, it’s just kind of awkward. What are you supposed to do? Make a big announcement on Facebook? That just seems too self-important to me.
So, when my parents asked me if I would share my story with the Lease On Love community this week, I figured it was a perfect time to open up and take a moment to step back and be proud of the courage it took to get where I am today.
I’ve been obsessively thinking about writing this post. Where should I begin? How do I share my story without getting too personal? What is the message I am trying to communicate? I’m sure it’s already pretty obvious, but if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a top-notch gold medal, over-analyzer. (That’s a thing I just made up, but if it were real, I’d have several awards.)
So instead of continuing the self-inflicted mind torture, I’m just going to begin telling my story.
My ex-husband and I were unhappy for several years, but it’s not like we fought every single day. We had some really wonderful times. We laughed a lot. But there were pretty bad times too. But nothing that really seemed to fall in the categories that typically cause divorce.
We talked about separating sometimes. But I always said I didn’t want to. I really didn’t want to. I was terrified to live without him. And we had a really wonderful friendship and bond. But the years continued to pass, and we just couldn’t get past the issues we were having, they kept coming up over and over again. And we kept trying and trying and trying to resolve them. But we never could.
In late 2015 I started a blog called, “Brooke Beautiful.” (Another quick look into my over-analyzing: it took me so long to press publish on my first post because I thought everyone would gossip about how conceited my blog name was even though all my posts were about my struggle with self-love. Told you 😉)
I think beginning the blog and then subsequently writing about the things I had struggled with for so long began my journey to self-love, acceptance, and happiness. And it changed me.
I healed after so many years of feeling like I was dying on the inside.
I don’t even think I knew how unhappy I was until I started to heal.
But, I healed by myself. I rebuilt my broken parts and filled in the holes and patched up the missing pieces. I learned how to be content with the person I was, and to stop yearning for the person that I wasn’t.
And through that voyage, I felt myself become brave and learned more about the life I wanted. I started to develop a sense of independence I had never felt before. And I think because of all that, I could finally begin to see the differences between my ex-husband and me with clear eyes. Without the fear of living without him blurring my vision. I saw that unless one of us made some major compromises, that I don’t think either of us felt comfortable making, neither one of us would be able to live the life we dreamed of.
And eventually, I started to question whether or not we should stay married. My ex-husband had questioned that before, and it always hurt me deeply. But for the first time, I could see that all the times he had asked the question before weren’t to hurt me. He just wanted to be happy. That was powerful.
I think when you can ask the really hard questions and be honest with yourself; you can make ridiculously hard changes in your life without bulldozing through other people’s feelings. That was something I was never able to do before. I was too paralyzed by fear.
I approached my ex-husband and told him how I was feeling and while, yes, it was SO hard, it was also good. We were able to have talks that we’d been needing to have for years. And, his fear of me falling apart into a million little pieces during the difficult conversations was gone because I’d already built myself back up before we had them.
Some people may think, “Oh gosh, that is so sad. The healing happened too late.”
It happened at the most perfect time.
I’ll tell you why.
In Lease On Love’s teachings, there are two sayings that were very important in my separation and divorce.
1. A Loving Release
This is what we call a separation/break-up/divorce. It’s a way to peacefully and lovingly end a relationship. My ex-husband and I were successfully able to create a loving release during our divorce process. We treated each other with respect, we never fought, and we had calm conversations. We were able to have the really difficult talks that we needed to have in order to gain the closure we both deserved. We wish the other love and happiness. Because of all that, we remain friends to this day.
2. There is no such thing as a failed relationship.
This has been an important thing for me to remember during all parts of this process. Just because a divorce happens doesn’t mean you failed. My ex-husband and I taught each other so many lessons and we gave each other so many gifts through out the course of our relationship. Some of them may not have seemed like “gifts” while they were happening, but I feel like they all were now.
We got together when he was 31 and I was 20. Part of our struggles I now am sure of came from the fact that I was so young when our relationship started. I still had so much growing up to do. And it was just such a relief to realize that ending our relationship didn’t have to be full of drama and hatred and regret. We could just decide it was over and that didn’t have to automatically transform our pasts into one gigantic failure. This concept has allowed me to bring so many lessons with me into my future, that will help me continue to be a better partner.
Trust The Magic Of New Beginnings
So where am I now?
Well, that’s the second part of this story.
I’ve reunited with my past boyfriend, Jack. We met when I was 18.
I know. It sounds kind of like a movie. But, it’s real. And, really incredible.
One day he sent me a Facebook message saying, “Hello.” And the rest is history.
Seriously though. I hadn’t heard from him in many years. Then one day, after talking about him with my best friend Breanne just the day before, I got a message from him.
But, I don’t believe in coincidences.
Jack and I started talking again and we developed a deep connection almost immediately. We were long distance, but we would talk for hours a day and we devoured each other’s words. I always say that my hobby is having deep conversations, and we had hundreds of hours worth of them. I was in heaven.
It all happened quickly, and it felt so natural.
My dad told me to, “keep following the open doors.” And, so I did. They kept opening and I kept walking through them.
Jack lives in Virginia. I lived in California.
In August of 2016, I came out here to test out our relationship. You know, to see if what we were experiencing on the phone was going to work in real life.
Well, it did.
It turned out to be pretty incredible in person too. ☺
So, I went home to California and sold like 75% of my belongings. I packed up the rest of my things and moved across the country to be with Jack. It was extremely powerful to realize how little you really need when you feel content.
We started building our life together and I started to blossom into the person I am today. Every single day I see new things in myself and I continue to see the lessons I’ve learned along the way in all of my actions.
We just recently bought a house that we are fixing up together in the mountains of Virginia. And I honestly feel like my life is a fairy tale.
But I don’t want you to think that it just magically happened.
It took work to get here.
These three lessons I learned from my experiences really helped me along the way.
1. Your partner is not responsible for your happiness.
When I was younger I believed that my significant other was responsible for keeping me happy. Jesus! What an enormous job to assign another person. It’s a mindset destined for failure and constant disappointment. It was a way to take absolutely no responsibility for my own emotions. When I realized this, it was a really big aha moment for me. I could finally stop asking my partner to manage my emotions and manage them myself. It removed so much self-doubt and craziness from my life and created a feeling of overall peace that I had never experienced before.
2. Fighting doesn’t equal a bad relationship.
I’m not going to lie, the first couple of fights I had with Jack made me feel like, “Oh god! This means something terrible. There must be something wrong with us.” But the truth is all couples fight. In fact, I think fighting means you care. And it was a huge relief to realize that sometimes the solutions were just simple changes I needed to make in my communication style or there was a simple compromise we needed to come to so we could move on.
3. Self-care is paramount.
Staci always says, “If you’re a hot mess, you show up as a hot mess.” I never really fully understood what she meant by that until I started taking better care of myself. Being a hot mess had kind of a snowball effect in my life. I stopped putting on makeup every day, and that made it easier to wear pajamas instead of real clothes when I worked from home. It also made it easier to vacuum less often, and that made it easier to clean the bathroom once a month instead of weekly…you get the idea. When you’re a hot mess, you’re not going to be able to give your best to anything or anyone in your life, including yourself.
But self-care has the opposite kind of snowball effect. It’s pretty amazing. I started putting on makeup daily, and then wearing jeans instead of yoga pants, and then getting back into my creativity, keeping the house super clean, cooking meals more often, and showing up as my whole self for my friends and family. The people in my life started commenting on how different I looked. I hadn’t lost any weight or changed my appearance, I just simply wasn’t a “hot mess” anymore, and it was really noticeable, even in pictures!
I think the main message I want to share here is that if you are incredibly unhappy in your life, you don’t have to stay that way.
You can change.
No matter how hard it seems and no matter how far away happiness feels. There can also be really amazing joy in the journey.
And you can end up in a place so beautiful that you stop and look around with wonder, “How did I get here?”
Just start by asking yourself what small step you can take today to get yourself to the place you dream of.
And keep asking yourself and keep taking small steps every single day.
You can do hard things.
Do you find yourself in a similar place…having challenges on your journey to love?
We’re here for you and want you to know that like Brooke, the place you dream of is possible for you too. We invite you to sign up for a Discovery Call with Tom & Staci. It’s totally free and you’re guaranteed to walk away with clarity on your next steps on your own journey to love.