Katie B. Smith
1. Turn off a water line
Two weeks after my ex moved out, the water line to my refrigerator was leaking and it flooded the basement. I panicked at first and thought I was going to have to move, but after I calmed down and researched how to do it, I felt empowered and capable to turn off the water line myself—and success! It's one of the many skills I've added to my arsenal post-divorce.
2. And snake a drain
Gross, yes, but I can't describe how accomplished I felt the first time I fixed a clogged drain on my own. After Drano failed me, I bought one of those instant power drain snakes and pulled about five pounds of hair and grime from the drain. I felt unstoppable and went on to snake every drain in the house just because I could!
3. Learn how to save money like a pro
My future, my retirement, and everything I do in life is up to me now—and most of what I want to accomplish takes money. After my divorce, I realized that I was hardly willing to give up on my dreams because I thought I couldn't afford them. Ever since, saving money has become somewhat of an addiction and I've been putting away 30 percent of my earnings. I also refinanced my house and am aiming to pay it off in 10 years so I can be mortgage-free by the time I am in my mid-50s.
4. And become comfortable with failure
I've had a break up that really hurt. I've forgotten to pick my child up at an event. I've had jobs that didn't pan out in the end. These experiences are hard to deal with, of course, but they've made me resilient and have taught me that failing is a good thing because it means I'm trying something new. The fact they didn't work out the way I'd planned means I've had opportunities to learn and grow.
5. Invest in my career
After my divorce, I wanted to stay in our family home, I wanted to have a successful career, and I wanted to show my children you can support a family on your own. So, I got organized, applied for tons of writing jobs, hustled like I never had before, and I wasn't afraid of rejection or of putting myself out there. I would have never pushed myself like that if I still had the luxury of sharing expenses with someone.
6. Learn how to be alone
When I was married, there were always four other people around. Now, with my ex out of the house and my kids only with me about 60 percent of the time, I'm alone more than ever. At first, the weekends without my kids were truly painful, but now I've learned to enjoy being alone. I've found having control of the remote, eating junk food without having to share, and walking around in my underwear to be truly blissful.
7. Learn to admit I don't have all the answers
I thought my marriage would last forever, but I was wrong. I thought I could fix it when it was broken, but I was wrong. And I thought I could always put on a happy face for my kids throughout my divorce, but I was wrong. Through this journey, I've learned that I don't always know how to figure something out, and it's actually been freeing. I've realized it's best for me to just be human and figure it out as I go, instead of trying to fix everything for my family's sake.
8. Ask for help when I need it
When my kids need to be in three places at once or my faucet is leaking, I used to be able to depend on my ex-husband to help out. But parenting and home-owning by myself have taught me that I can either white-knuckle it and try doing everything myself, or I can ask for help in ways I've never had to before. And I've learned to go with the latter.
9. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Not being married is uncomfortable. Online dating is uncomfortable. Hearing something outside late at night is uncomfortable. Seeing a family walking across the street on a holiday when I'm not with my kids is uncomfortable. But I've had to deal with these things over and over and over again as I've settled into my new reality. I started telling myself it was okay to feel this way—and over time, I've gotten used to the discomfort. The truth is, I want to fall in love and find a life partner, and I am going to be seeing families crossing the road for the rest of my life. I can either learn to deal with feeling uncomfortable or let it keep me from moving forward. And in this case, option one is definitely best.
10. Believe in love again
When your marriage ends, it's easy to look at that as a failure and think you can't have a loving relationship with anyone, as if love is a one-shot deal. But I refuse to believe I can't find my person. He's out there and I can't wait to meet him.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full time freelance writer, living in Maine with her three teens, two ducks, and a Goldendoodle. Her work has appeared in Woman’s World, Health, Scary Mommy, AARP, and Grown and Flown. She writing her first Romance novel.