Written by: Amanda Cottrell, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Each day, I am grateful for my divorce! I know some of you are probably reading this thinking that lady is crazy... divorce is the worst! Well, going through a divorce is definitely not ideal, and I truly believe in doing everything you can to save your marriage. However, some marriages are not saveable, and that is okay.
One of the best decisions I ever made was to get divorced. I did not know it at the time, but I was in a very unhealthy and toxic, for me, marriage, and I didn’t understand how badly that relationship was affecting my entire being. For years I thought I needed to save my marriage because of my daughter, that I needed to do everything I could to make it work for her sake. When in reality, that was the most toxic thing I could have been doing for both myself and her and her father.
I went to a retreat shortly after deciding to get divorced. At the retreat, one of the councilors said to me, “ask yourself... is this healthy for me and my daughter, and if the answer is no, why are you doing it?“ That question blew my mind. I had never looked at the situation from that perspective, and from that day on, in any situation I am in, I ask myself, “Is this healthy for me and my daughter?” If the answer is yes, then I continue on that path. If the answer is “no,” then I make conscious choices to change the path and direction we are on.
I wanted to model a healthy, empowered life and the “me” in my marriage was not that person. So day by day, little by little, I started doing things to empower my life.
If you are at the beginning of your divorce, you are probably wondering how you are ever going to make it through. You probably have spent a few days and nights crying your eyes out and hiding in your bed. That is okay! I have been there and get that you need time to feel that pain and allow it to pass through.
I have been divorced for 7 years now, and I can testify that every day gets better and easier as long as you continue to make healthy “for you” choices. Then something will come up, and you will be back in that anxious toxic “for you” space, and it will take a while to build the healthy “you” back up again. Trust me, no matter what happens, you have the power to get yourself on a healthy “for you” path.
When I first separated, I lived in my aunt and uncle's basement with my 3-year-old while working full time and finishing the last few courses of my master's degree. I could not have been more scattered and scared. At the time, though, I asked myself where is the healthiest space for me and my child during this time of transition. The answer was to live at the farm for a bit.
Sometimes in our lives, we are meant just to sit and be patient. I spent 8 months living in my aunt and uncle's basement, and I cherish the time we spent there. They live out on a beautiful acreage, and whenever I got stressed or too much in my head, I would head out to the garden and start weeding or out to the barns to sit with the horses. This time allowed me to reconnect to myself, finish some of my goals and have the support I needed at that time. I am grateful each day for their kindness and the experience that gave my daughter a chance to live a country life for a bit before our house was ready.
Any transition in life can be difficult. I needed a lot of support during this time, and I reached out for whatever I had access to. Luckily my work had opportunities for counseling services. I went every week for a while. Then as I got healthier, I could scale back the sessions to twice a month, then once a month, then I will call when I need help again. Have I called for support again in the last 7 years? Absolutely! Having access to good therapy was one of the key tools I used to empower my life after divorce.
I also began reinventing myself. Shortly after my house was ready, I started hosting art workshops to get my creative side out. This action triggered a friend to tag me in a post of someone looking for an illustrator, and I started illustrating a book, then started illustrating my own children’s books for my classroom. Four years later, I have self-published 8 children’s books. If you had told me at the start of my divorce that I would achieve what I have achieved after divorce, I would have laughed at you.
I had so many feelings of regret. I was a teacher. I did not want the parents to know that I had failed at my marriage. But guess what, it made me a better teacher! Almost every year, 1/2 of the students in my class come from homes where the parents have chosen to separate. When the parents know that I have also experienced what they are going through, I cannot even tell you how many times I have been able to support parents positively that I would not have been able to do had I not gone through what I have. It also allowed me to write a children’s book called “Divorce is a D-word, Sometimes Two Separate Homes Can Be Better than One,” to help both kids and parents have a positive outlook at an uncertain time.
A few years ago, a childhood friend asked me if I wished I would have married my long term boyfriend that I had before my husband. My answer was, “no, without my marriage, I would not have had my daughter. Without my divorce, I would not be able to help people the way I can now after going through what I went through.” Like I said before, “I am grateful for my divorce every day!”
If you are in the beginning stages of a divorce, know with all of your heart that things will get better. Ask yourself, “what can I learn from this situation?” And start a path of learning to rebuild and reinvent yourself. Even if you take a few steps backward, you have the opportunity the next day to take steps toward your healthier and more awesome you!
Amanda Cottrell, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Believe! Create! Inspire! Amanda Marie Cottrell is a woman who wears many hats with a BA in Political Science, B.Ed in elementary education, M.Ed specializing in creativity and technology, Reiki master, yoga for young children instructor, artist, mom, author, illustrator, and teacher. She also runs an arts-based business teaching art and mindfulness workshops. As an educator of young children for over 14 years, Amanda’s passion is education and creativity. She believes that everyone has creative capacities. Her mission is to empower people by tapping into their own unique creative gifts through connection and mindfulness. Namaste!