Healing after Relationship Loss

I was married three times before I was 35. I changed husbands about as often as I changed hairstyles. It became a running joke in some circles as to which last name it was going to be this year. Although it was kind of funny, and I can definitely laugh about it now, I must admit there was a degree of hurt involved too. What I wanted was a happy, stable relationship with someone I loved and who loved me. And what I truly wanted was to show the world that I really could have a stable relationship, rather than living the life of Elizabeth Taylor and her eight husbands.

Then I met my husband, Seth. And everything changed. Well, not really. I actually had to change prior to meeting him. I wish I could say that I saw his teal blue eyes and I immediately heard a chorus of angels singing and a huge arrow of light above his head flashing “This is the ONE!” But the reality is that a lot had to change in my mind and in my heart before I found him. Or rather, before he found me. But I’ll save that story for a future blog.

After each of my marriages, some dared to ask what made me want to do it again. The underlying question each time was, “Why would you get married again after so many failures?” My answer was that I believed in love, and I believed that there really was someone right for me and that I just hadn’t found him yet. I didn’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, and I just knew I had to keep trying to find happiness. I’ll admit, after three times, most people would probably give up. But for those of you who know me, you know I’m not a quitter. And I just knew there was happiness out there for me. So what did it take for me to take this last plunge?

Forgive the Past. Yes, that’s right, forgiveness. I had to learn to forgive myself as well as the men who had emotionally hurt me. After the first divorce at 26 years old, I really felt quite worthless, and didn’t know how anyone could love me – especially since I didn’t love myself. So you can imagine how much more intensified that was after the second and third times. But I had to learn that bad things happen and the fact that I had several marriages that didn’t work out did not define me as a person.

Create Self-Worth for the Present. I had to learn to see myself as a person of worth. Often when bad things happen to us, we give ourselves so little value that we might as well be a doormat for anyone to step on as they walk by. We don’t value our own choices, our actions, or our bodies. So instead of looking at myself like a total loser, I started to embrace who I was and looked at what I could do to make myself better. For me, this meant several things including a weight loss program (35 pounds lost with Weight Watchers, thank you very much!), enrolling in a graduate school program, and the seeking of a Higher Power.

Believe in a Positive Future. Lastly, I had to learn to believe in myself, no matter how unworthy I felt. I also learned to believe in a Higher Power. For you, that may be something else, but for me it’s God. One day, I looked at myself in the mirror, pre-makeup, and said to my mirror imagine, “Denisse, you are ONE HOT MESS. You have GOT to get it together. You only go around once, and you are wasting your life!” I grew up as a Believer and regularly attended church, but I was far from that at the time. It was then and there that I decided to let go of all the baggage and whatever it took, to give it to God. I wish I could say that I snapped my fingers and suddenly everything was right again. Alas, it took some time, and a lot of surrendering of myself.

These three things paved the way for my soul to heal in a way that I could become whole again. Scarred as I was, I started to feel like I could love and be loved again. As my heart healed, I became the kind of person that I wanted to be, I found joy in my life, and finally felt I was on the right path to find my true happiness.

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